Written by María García-Mauriño
They say every generation thinks they’re better than the ones before, and that is not different when it comes to fashion. We think we’re the first ones to ever break beauty canons, but we can’t forget that fashion is an industry just like any other, and it reflects what people want to see. This means that it experiments. Constantly changing through time, trying to keep up with the consumers’ new habits and trends. There are multiple examples of this through history, but one of my favorites is Calvin Klein’s ground breaking move in 1994 with the launch of CK One: androgynous figures, blurred lines between men and women and new icons such as Kate Moss depicted a new image of beauty as an answer to social and political changes that removed the word “innocence” from the definition of youth.
It is for sure that our generation, as that of the 1990’s, are craving change. Our voice has become stronger in this digital era we have unstoppably and unapologetically immerged ourselves in, and it is becoming harder and harder for brands to remain impassive to what we have to say. Instagram has become a public model agency, allowing girls and boys with diverse kinds of beauty to find a platform where they’re able to grow professionally without fitting in size 0 jeans. The plus-size model Ashley Graham’s Instagram account has 5.3 million followers, and she has even signed with the home agency of Kate Moss, IMG. Since the agency started what they called the “Curve” board, they have signed hundreds of plus-size models at a rapid pace, and it doesn’t seem as if they’re going to stop.
It’s no longer just about size, however. We´re concerned about color, about sexuality, about religion, about skin… We want everyone to be included. Brands that are unable to adapt to diverse types of beauty are becoming obsolete, while those who are changing history are praised by masses. One of the most recent examples was the launch of Fenty Beauty by our girl Rihanna. Her new makeup brand offers 40 different shades of foundation for all skin colors, with a powerful beauty campaign starring models of different shades, sizes and religious beliefs. One of the stars of the show was certainly Halima Aden, the first hijab-wearing model to ever sign with the giant IMG. She also debuted in the Yeezy Season 5 runway show at New York Fashion Week and with her Allure cover she became the first model ever to wear a hijab in the first page of a beauty magazine. Born in a refugee camp in Kenya, the 20-year-old model has still a lot of territory to conquer.
Even the historically immovable fashion week is hearing our desperate voice, not just Yeezy. The Fashion Spot recently carried out a study which covered a total of 241 shows and stated that 27.9 percent of the models who walked this fall’s 2017 runways were minorities, the highest proportion in the last couple of years. Not surprisingly, New York Fashion Week is leading the change. In fact, all of the shows that the report looked at in New York included at least one model of color, and all five of the shows that ranked highest for racial diversity across the four cities (New York, Milan, Paris, London) were held in The Big Apple (Gypsy Sport, Chromat, Kimora Lee Simmons, Yeezy and Marc Jacobs). This season there were 12 transgender models, 21 women aged 50 or older and 30 plus-size models compared to 16 last season and 6 the season before.
Some believe that time will come when being a plus-sized model in the NYFW won´t be the headline of all fashion magazines; when agencies won’t tell black models “sorry, we’ve already casted a black girl” as if all black girls are the same; when wearing a hijab in a beauty cover won´t make the news. When every makeup brand will offer foundation shades for every single type of skin, and not just Fenty. However, whether we’re in front of a trend or the new normal only time can tell. Whether this is the way to go, I feel like there’s no doubt we’re changing the industry. Will being “different” ever stop being different? Will the next generation of supermodels have no physical requirements at all? I don’t know about you, but I can´t wait to find it out. For now, all we can do is scream out loud that we’ll fight until this new generation of beauty is here to stay!