Alexandra Shulman Reveals Fashion’s Ongoing Battle with Size Inclusivity: Reflecting on Her 2009 Plea to Designers

Alexandra Shulman Reveals Fashion’s Ongoing Battle with Size Inclusivity: Reflecting on Her 2009 Plea to Designers

While rummaging through old papers, I stumbled upon a letter I wrote in 2009 to the most influential fashion designers, urging them to create larger sample sizes.

This was a plea to allow Vogue to feature a wider range of body sizes in their editorials.

Addressing a Growing Problem

In my letter, I highlighted the growing issue of sample sizes not fitting even the healthiest of models, forcing us to use emaciated-looking girls.

I argued that this trend was irresponsible and out of touch with public sentiment, and it ultimately did not benefit anyone in the fashion industry.

A Forthright Appeal

The frustration behind my letter stemmed from numerous instances where we couldn’t find designer clothes to fit the women we wanted to photograph.

Even Kate Moss struggled with the sample sizes at times. My candid message to designers like Miuccia Prada and Vivienne Westwood was blunt and unyielding, emphasizing the damage caused by the current state of affairs.

Limited Impact Despite Polite Responses

Many designers replied politely but evasively, often failing to acknowledge the extreme thinness of their models.

The size of catwalk models directly influenced the sample sizes we received, limiting our choice of models.

Despite my efforts, little has changed in the past fifteen years, as evidenced by recent statistics showing minimal representation of larger models.

Persistent Size Exclusion in Fashion

Recent fashion weeks in major cities featured only a small percentage of models larger than ‘straight size’.

Plus-size models were tokenized and their presence on the catwalk has dwindled. High-profile shows, like those of Versace and Balmain, have reverted to using exclusively thin models.

Complexities of the Size Debate

The fashion industry’s brief embrace of plus-size models faced criticism. While most women are not as large as plus-size models, the industry’s portrayal of these models complicates the issue.

Despite the body positivity movement, the occasional plus-size model on the catwalk does little to change societal attitudes towards size.

Reflecting on My Tenure at Vogue

During my 25 years at British Vogue, I grappled with the complexities of using slim models.

Despite understanding the aesthetic appeal of thin models, I was constantly involved in debates about their impact on societal attitudes towards body image and eating disorders.

The Persistence of Thinness in Fashion

Historical context shows that the admiration of thinness has deep roots. From the elegant models of the 1950s to the waifs of the 1990s, thinness has been a constant in fashion.

The body positivity movement made some strides, but the obsession with thinness remains strong, as evidenced by the popularity of weight loss drugs like Ozempic.

The Influence of Celebrities and Weight Loss Trends

The rise of weight loss drugs, popularized by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, reflects society’s ongoing preoccupation with thinness.

These drugs offer a quick solution to weight loss, appealing to many despite the public discourse on body positivity.

Challenges in High Fashion

High fashion still largely excludes average-sized women. A quick review of designer collections shows a lack of availability for sizes above 12, contrasting with more inclusive British brands.

Even collaborations, like Victoria Beckham’s line for Mango, fail to offer larger sizes.

The Future of Size Inclusivity in Fashion

Real change in model and designer attitudes towards size is unlikely without a radical shift in societal preferences.

The advent of weight loss drugs like Ozempic suggests that the fashion industry’s thin ideal will persist, making significant progress towards size inclusivity even more challenging.

TDPel Media

This article was published on TDPel Media. Thanks for reading!

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