Fashion Week

“Fashion should empower”: the women protesting a lack of body diversity on the runway

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Anna Pollitt
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Before big-name shows and glitzy parties engulf the news agenda, London Fashion Week has taken off in a spirit of dissent with protests both on and off the runway.

Body inclusivity, trans representation and political inaction were brought to the fore at the opener of the capital’s fashion extravaganza on Friday. 

As emerging talents showcased their creations, Hayley Hasselhoff led a charge of fellow plus-size models and social media influencers to rally against the narrow range of body shapes on the runway.

The protest on the Strand was organised by Simply Be

Brandishing placards reading “Fashion shouldn’t shame us” and “Our beauty is immeasurable”, the likes of Felicity Hayward and Sonny Turner descended on 180 Strand - the heart of LFW – in white t-shirts bearing their professions, as a further reminder that women are more than a mere dress size.

Despite the average British woman wearing a size 16, only 30 plus-size models walked in 10 shows across Fashion Month last season, with Nicholas Kirkwood being the only LFW designer to use a plus-size model, according to Fashion Spot

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Hasselhoff, 26, took part in two similar protests last year, the first at LFW in February and again in November to shine a light on the annual Victoria’s Secret lingerie show, which has never featured a plus-size model.

“I think it’s really important that we continue to campaign for body positivity and diversity in the industry,” she told Evening Standard in February.

“We want to give women everywhere the confidence to be who they are. This is only achieved by showing a wide variety of models, irrespective of size.”

Also on the Strand, trans activist group Transmissions held a fashion show themed protest against a lack of trans inclusivity at the shows.

The group’s founder Lucia Blake told Dazed that because “the fashion industry decides what bodies are normal and which ones are not” it should be hiring more trans models rather than rotating a few big names who have been accepted into the industry.

Moving away from fashion’s responsibility towards representation, Friday evening saw supermodel Adwoa Aboah lead a powerful show of support to survivors of the Grenfell disaster.

The supermodel joined Clara Paget, Emile Sande and DJ Becky Tong to unite with members of Justice4Grenfell on the runway. They all wore simple white t-shirts bearing a strong message: “72 dead and still no arrests? How come?”

It’s 20 months since a fire destroyed the 24-storey block of flats in west London.

“I hope the public sees the faces, the stories, and knows that it’s still very much part of the survivors’ everyday lives.” Aboah told Evening Standard.  

Images: Getty

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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at Stylist.co.uk, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant.

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