Fashion is more than clothes; it is a statement. Art and expression have taken numerous forms throughout the years. It turned into an illusion that the masses think they can afford or relate to but are a part of. This season London’s runway wanted to repaint that image with Inclusivity. 2023 can be a year where fashion becomes everyone’s cup of tea and LFW took the lead. London Fashion Week is a fashion industry expo held twice a year shaping the industry. It belongs to the ‘Big Four’ fashion weeks, alongside New York, Milan, and Paris
London Fashion Week began on Friday, the five-day event will honor late designer Vivienne Westwood. Westwood, who passed away at 81, was a renowned figure in British fashion. She was credited for popularizing modern punk and new-wave outfits. “It is only right and appropriate that we dedicate the entire week to her. We must celebrate her contribution as she was extraordinary and unique.” Says British Fashion Council chair David Pemsel.
During this bi-annual event Burberry, the legendary British luxury brand, presented its debut collection with the new creative management of Daniel Lee. Christopher Kane, Erdem, Nensi Dojaka, Roksanda, and Simone Rocha are among the other standouts. We saw Victoria Jenkins, the creator of the clothing line Unhidden, she showed fashionable yet accessible looks for those with impairments. Jenkins created wheelchair-friendly fitted pants with vertical pockets to prevent things from spilling out and an elasticized waistline to prevent cutting into sitting wearers.
From second-hand clothing to inclusivity amongst the models, this season ticked every box. But was it inclusive enough? Surely it was a step towards inclusivity. People who have been looking for representation and understand the core of fashion were pleased to see models of every race, shape, and size but it couldn’t please the masses.
The fashion industry is so far deep in its trap that the runway will always be a foreign land for the public. Inclusion is crucial, it gives people with various origins and identities a sense of representation and inclusion in a field that has traditionally excluded them. Also, it encourages variety, which boosts the fashion industry’s capacity for creativity, innovation, and cross-cultural communication. But we can only see a glimpse of it for ages.
Cisgender white people who fit the beauty standards and measurements have dominated this field and continue to do so. Undoubtedly the industry is evolving but the diversity is still negligible because the viewers still find only those aesthetically pleasing who fit the traditional industry standards.
Ukrainian brands @KseniaSchnaider, PASKAL, FROLOV, unveiled their collections at #LFW, for Ukrainian Fashion Week international season.— London Fashion Week (@LondonFashionWk) February 21, 2023
The show had a moving end with KSENIASCHNAIDER , Julie Paskal and Ivan Frolov taking the final bow together united by the Ukrainian flag. pic.twitter.com/EZ6ntrEEop
Also Read: Milan Fashion Week 2023 Is Back In Full Glory
Will inclusivity always be an Illusion in this London industry?
Although the fashion industry has made great strides in embracing various beauty standards and letting go of its elite and privileged past, more has to be done to create a more welcoming and forward-thinking future. Fashion Spot’s diversity study, which looked at runway shows in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, said that the spring 2018 fashion season was diverse and that 27.9% of the models were women of color. The same study found that the prevalence of plus-size models over 50, transgender, or non-binary was 2.2%, 3.0%, and 1.3%, respectively.
The industry in 2022 produced its most racially diverse season. But, the history of the business, which ranges from accusations of cultural appropriation to open racism, has shown how far fashion still needs to go to become more inclusive. London Fashion week is just another milestone at best.
Inclusivity is just a cover to hide how it all really operates. Most of the change, nevertheless, has been ornamental; marketing has played a bigger role than actual change-making. Underneath the facade of its large, flashy advertising campaigns, the sector is still having trouble changing the way it conducts business and incorporating diversity. Inclusion is a difficult dialogue to have in a sector that has mostly been focused on selling exclusivity. Puppet masters have bowed to public pressure for more varied faces, but there is almost daily proof that they are unwilling to share authority and invite different viewpoints to the table where choices are made.
London Fashion Week is the smallest step taken in this ever-expanding industry. Surely everyone appreciates the efforts made by the British Fashion Council to navigate the runway toward inclusion, but the debate is nowhere near the end. The industry needs to adapt to variety the same way they adapted to exclusion.