Fashion is about representing your identity however that manifests itself. For some, the challenge is that the clothes on the shelves don't always adequately reflect them.
This is especially true for minority groups, plus size consumers, transgender communities, and those who simply do not align themselves with gender stereotypes. Too often, the fashion of these groups is about fitting into preset normative standards. Adjusting to these standards, however, leads to a constant dialogue of subtle self-hatred.
Several celebrities have helped bring these underserved communities to the fore and break stereotypes. Lizzo, for example, wears whatever size she wants, not what others think she should. She works out and eats healthy, although some of those who comment on her Instagram page think differently. I particularly resonate with your story because I am a cyclist who cycled four times 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but by no means looks like a chiseled athlete.
And therein lies the problem. Many athletic women and men who don't look like Michael Phelps or Simone Biles are not represented by fitness models. In addition, these consumers cannot find sportswear in their sizes. This leads these viewers to view the shopping itself as a traumatic experience that lowers, rather than boosts, their confidence. Furthermore, this lack of body representation seems to suggest what an athlete is and what is not, which limits who can be included based on their body type alone.
Some brands are shifting to make sure marginalized communities are better represented. Last week, the sportswear company Superfit Hero completely discontinued its smaller sizes and lengthened it 7 times, which means that it only offers fitness clothing in plus sizes. Not only did the brand offer a wider range of sizes, but instead chose to focus fully on the needs of an underserved community.
The diversity of body types was linked to the LGBTQ + community when Jonny Cota, winner of Making the Cut on Amazon Prime Video, emphasized that “a fundamental aspect of the“ queer power ”is body positivity and the appreciation of all bodies. “Some brands are strongly represented in this direction.
Nik Kacy creates a gender-free luxury shoe brand that offers designs that enable individuals across the gender spectrum to express themselves more effectively. Since clothing is a way of helping some transsexuals combat gender dysmorphism, the need for clothing that adequately reflects their own identity is critical.
Last but not least, fashion still has a long way to go in offering options for racially diverse communities. Last summer, some brands felt they had solved the problem by providing social contributions to Black Lives Matter without actually addressing the shortage of black models, designers, photographers and executive representatives at the brands themselves.
The lack of diversity in fashion translates into a lack of inclusion when it comes to defining beauty in the consumer market. The effects of this can be fully realized through visual representations that do just the opposite. For example, in Black Is King, Beyoncé's visual companion to her 2019 album The Lion King: The Gift, Queen B elevates black culture and fashion by showing independent black designers from around the world, ranging from black singers, dancers, models and actors. What I found most poignant about the work was its power to shed light on the black beauty, which brought the focus to the lack of these images in many other media.
The reality is that these underserved communities are growing and getting bigger over the years. The brands that authentically bond by offering fashion that meets the needs of these groups will win while the others run to catch up. To the future and clothes that better represent all of our many identities.