08 Oct 2019

Inclusivity and diversity in fashion

Inclusivity and diversity in fashion

In an industry that’s been built on exclusivity, fashion has, more often than not, failed to represent anything more than one standard of beauty. The beauty cult of the young, slim, white model has long been the ideal represented in our industry leading to a perception of a lack of diversity in fashion as a whole. Until now. As social media and a greater connectedness amongst designers and consumers opens doors to new conversations, the future of the fashion industry is looking much more diverse in more ways than one…

Fashion and mental health

After that mental health protest at Gucci’s London Fashion Week show, the conversation around mental health and its representation in the fashion industry has been blown back open. Whilst the prevalence of eating disorders, especially amongst models, has been acknowledged for a long time now, other issues surrounding the topic of mental health have been, until recently, very much taboo. But with the deaths of designers Kate Spade and Alexander McQueen raising awareness of just how the pressures of the industry can take their toll on creatives, these issues are becoming harder and harder to ignore and mental health awareness in fashion is on the rise. But it’s not just the big names feeling the strain. Suicide rates and cases of addiction are on the rise in fashion students and young creatives in the industry, as well.

Racial diversity in fashion

The conversation surrounding race is perhaps one of the most contentious in the fashion industry. Historically, a lack of diversity in both fashion magazines and models has led to a sense of exclusion amongst the majority of women, who do not fit into the perpetuated stereotypes. Again, though, fashion is following suit where the conversation is concerned, as cultural movements like Black Lives Matter continue to be relevant. And, whilst a more diverse line-up of catwalk models is proving a visible shift in attitude, the changes in the industry go behind the scenes too. 2018 saw streetwear designer Virgil Abloh become the first black artistic director of catwalk giant Louis Vuitton and even high street brands are expanding their collections to include modest fashion for Muslim women. 

Age and diversity in fashion

After being released from her contract as brand ambassador for Lancôme at age 43 for being “too old”, Isabella Rossellini reclaimed the gauntlet in 2018, aged 65. And with the Elastic Generation being fashion and beauty’s biggest spenders right now, it only makes sense that older women should be seen representing their off-runway counterparts in the industry. Naomi Campbell, who has long been known for her advocacy for diversity and female empowerment, is understandably front and centre of this conversation. The model, activist and newly crowned BFC Fashion Icon closed the show at Saint Laurent’s Paris Fashion Week Show, an honour not usually reserved for those with 49 years under their belts.

Whilst there is still a way to go, fashion is well on the road to a more inclusive, diverse and intersectional future. Make sure you join us at Pure London’s AW20/21 edition to hear more on the issues of the industry today. Join us on 9th – 11th February for the Festival of Fashion at Olympia London.


This post was created by Pure London editor Emma Wilder

Source: “9 Ways The Fashion Industry Embraced Inclusivity in 2018” article by Emma Day, Vogue
Source: “Editor’s Letter: Lorraine Candy on age diversity in fashion” article by Lorraine Candy, The Times
Source: “Fashion’s long road to inclusivity” article by Sarah Kent, Business of Fashion

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Location & Opening times:

Olympia London,

Hammersmith Road,


London W14 8UX


Sunday 9th February 2020, 09.30 - 18.00

Monday 10th February 2020, 09.30 - 18.00

Tuesday 11th February 2020, 09.30 - 16.00

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