Diversity on the Runway
With the Modern Woman Show fast approaching, one of the biggest tasks as the fashion show coordinator is choosing the models that will be showing the clothing on the runway. Their job is to look great, that goes without saying - they're models... duh, but ultimately it is to represent the vendor's merchandise and make it appealing to the audience. But then the question becomes, what makes something appealing?
So often following any fashion show I work at or attend, I hear "The clothes look great on those models, but they sure wouldn't look like that on me!" That is almost verbatim. Every. Single. Time.
The thing is, while clothing on a parade of similar looking people can make a beautiful, artistic statement for haute couture shows, this particular show is about everyday people that shop with our local merchants. In our community, that means a melting pot of ethnicities, body types, and lifestyles. Aiming to have some diversity on the runway allows the audience to perhaps see themselves reflected in the show, feel more confident trying on the clothes, embracing the newest trends, and ultimately supporting those local merchants.
The goal is to show attainable fashion. That means no matter the colour of your skin, what your story is, your age, what gender you are, if you are thin, short, curvy or tall - you can come to the show and feel like you saw something on the runway that you can wear.
This year we welcome several new vendors that really put a new twist on the diversity of the show in terms of the clientele it reaches. We have FIVEAM, our first menswear retailer; Kiowa Sage - a local First Nations designer; and Red Lotus - a boutique that specializes in garments geared toward women who have undergone mastectomies.
A term thrown around loosely is "body positivity", but people assume that means loving yourself only at a certain size or weight. WRONG! It means accepting and loving yourself (and others) no matter what beef they have with themselves... and trust me, we all have them.
We have 30 (30!) models walking in this year's show, and not one of them look alike. I asked a few of them to weigh in with their feelings on runway diversity and here is what they had to say:
"The only Webster's definition of 'model' that denotes a size requirement is when referring to a miniature replica. Since no one can essentially be a miniature replica in the fashion world, I'm ecstatic to see the industry finally embracing models of all shapes, sizes & colours. The focus should be more on projecting the image of healthy confidence rather than a particular body type to aspire to. Thin, curvy, tall, short - it's all beautiful."
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but true beauty is within all of us no matter your race, gender or shape. We are all beautiful and it is confidence that will make us shine. To quote Dr. Seuss 'Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind!' At the end of the day we all smile in the same language.”
"Runway fashion is a visual picture of a moving art form. It holds many titles and is always presents the top fashion trends. Body imagery and its uniqueness plays an important role. I believe runway should take further steps to embrace ALL body types to create solidarity among designers."
"Bodies are beautiful no matter what shape and size. We are made to believe that smaller is better and we become obsessed with looking a certain way rather than treating the body like the magnificent biological machine it is. We need to turn our focus to optimal performance rather than fitting a particular mould. We are all unique and that should be represented in the media as well as on the runway."
"Diversity in fashion is essential and it starts by educating men and women that beauty comes in different shapes, colours, and sizes. This allows the younger generation to be empowered as they see more "relatable" role models on the runway. One day I will look back on this day holding onto my daughter's hand when she tells me 'Mom, you have done it, so can I!'"
"When Katie first asked me to take part in this fashion show, my immediate response was 'How cool!' Followed by utter dread. As the date draws nearer to the show, I've actually realized how freaking cool it will be to be a model of a different demographic that people can look at and identify with. I feel like on this stage if I can make even one person in the crowd feel like 'Hey I could wear that too!' then that is worth the experience itself!"
As you can see, these models are just like you and me. They are you and me.
My personal advice? Take care of your body and mind and the rest will come. It's just that simple.
I can't wait for this year's show and see all of our beautiful faces and vendors light up the runway! Come out to the show and share our good vibes!
Make sure to grab your friends and take in the Runway Fashion Show hosted by Chantel Huber at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 16th at Prairieland Park. See the newest trends in fashion with 11 boutiques including, Swank Shoe Lounge, Era Style Loft, Details at Home, Kiowa Sage, Harper Clothing Co., Tonic, Red Lotus, Lead Pilates, Two Fifty Two Boutique, Bella Chic, and FIVEAM. Come early to grab seats, win some fabulous prizes, and of course...get a head start on all the shopping at the Modern Woman Show & Expo. General Tickets are available at the door for $10. This event is proud to support the YWCA Saskatoon.