A New, New Yorker: Progressiveness in Runway Fashion

Kalissa Marion

February 5, 2020

New York. The big apple. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, whatever you want to call it. We all have big dreams here. We’re the young creatives that are not only efficient but inventive, reshaping the fashion world day by day.

We are quite literally the future. It’s the single thing that keeps me reluctant to give up within the fashion hemisphere. We’re living in a time where american culture is changing at an alarming rate, causing us to forget how impactful these milestones are. It’s very easy to go throughout life without realizing, however recent doors have opened, bringing society closer to inclusivity in an industry which wasn’t always so easily accessible.

I’ve witnessed many things within the fashion industry. Once an outside observer, I was suddenly thrusted into NY culture, the most influential melting pot in US history. I was unprepared, paralyzed in awe. wide eyed and bushy tailed, toward the various styles flooding the streets and stations. Not only the different variations but the complexity.

I’ll never forget the first moment I saw a model that wasn’t a size 0. A model with imperfections that were once deemed unbeautiful. A model with complete symmetrical vitiligo. There are so many different types of bodies, backgrounds, and appearances that weren’t always openly broadcasted and embraced. It gave me hope that someday fashion would be more diverse.

It’s moments like these that inspire people, that gives them thoughts of “okay, i can do this!” For example, the models who made me feel that way were: Naomi Campbell, Maria Borges, Chanel Iman, Duckie Thot, Jordan Dunn, and Tyra Banks. Something as simple as seeing someone who represented me ignited a newfound hunger to accomplish things that weren’t possible 100 years ago. Although it may seem a long time ago, it’s only within our great grandparents lifetime.

Within the previous years, not only were there strides in diversity of ethnicity but also the diversity in body types. A journey of recovery and a healthier lifestyle followed. I found myself taking these new ads personally. Models with natural curves made me mentally strong. From that moment forward I decided to pursue a new outlook of positivity towards no longer looking like the typical model. Breaking out of the rules, prejudices, and boundaries the boomers set in place for us wasn’t easy, but easy isn’t always the obvious answer. I began to live by the motto “The bigger the risk the greater the payoff.” Change is nonexistent without risk.

When I think of young creatives on a global scale, my first thought is YouTube. To me, that was the beginning of the age of people who were my age having a voice. Their voices were loud and clear, sometimes louder than the local news stations. The internet gave younger generations the new opportunity for exposure. After all, with new technology it’s easier to share passions and thoughts, further progressing the fashion industry.

Naturally, with these new advances, are the young creatives who have mastered the art of self distribution. Unapologetically open minded, willing to try new ideas, as well as being unbothered by standing out. It’s impossible to ignore, even some high end designers and established artists are striving to have the same appeal. At the end of the day the designer has to cater to whoever purchases. Whether it’s viewing the culture from the outside in, or being apart of this change, adapting to the new demographic of whoever purchases is essential.

The biggest example of failing to cater to these new demographics is Victoria’s Secret. In August of 2019, amongst all of the progressive changes in our society, Ed Razek, the brand’s past executive, publicly made a demeaning comment stating, “Victoria’s Secret should not cast “transsexuals” in its fashion show, because the show is a fantasy. Mr. Razek later apologized for his “insensitive” remarks.” That was the beginning of the end of America’s top retail chains, once drawing in millions of dollars a year, with its peak in 2013. I remember watching their annual fashion show religiously, later feeling as if i wasn’t skinny enough.

Two nights ago I watched the Savage X Fenty show online, and I have to say it’s the most inclusive fashion show to date. Models of all different sizes, ethnicities, and genders united to make a statement. A statement that gave me more confidence to stay in my non conventional, artistic career path. It’s a moment in history that will force fashion out of its traditions. Anna Wintor could be seen in the front row, analyzing behind her infamous sunglasses. Representation matters. Another honorable mention is Pyer Moss. Do I need to explain?

These milestones are great, however there’s a lot more work to be done. I feel lucky that I began modeling in 2019, in such an enriched city. It’s a year that’ll always be memorable, being the most diverse year thus far. Now it’s 2020, another year where younger creatives can have their time to shine. Through diversity and creating we’ll change the industry for the better. Who knows? It may inspire someone to aspire to be the next top model or the next fashion house. It may cause others to realize they have potential also, the same way it happened for me.