Model Felicity Hayward on why LFW needs to become more inclusive

Model and influencer Felicity Hayward is not attending London Fashion Week. Here, she explains why she’s made that decision.

At New York Fashion Week, my US-based plus-size peers told me they were disappointed in the lack of diversity this season. But the energy, to me, feels very different in New York, so to my US friends, I say: you have no idea how many steps ahead of London you are.

It’s not just the shows that are more diverse; there are more events, opportunities and brands including curves and making New York shine brightly as a land of inclusion.

You have photographers such as Lydia Hudgens, who is photographing solely plus-size street style for a large online platform. There are influencers like Kellie Brown, who is promoting the plus-size presence with her own hashtags and the movement AndIGetDressed. There’s also writer Gianluca Russo, who is talking about the male plus-size movement and inclusivity for many media outlets.

We have none of this in London. The only plus-size representation I ever seem to see at London Fashion Week is Stylist’s Billie Bhatia, and the occasional model or two.

New York has curve specific events, such as 11 Honore’s private dinner with a range of top curve models and influencers. It was a true celebration of women and by no means a gimmick.

I use the word gimmick because of the way I have been treated in the past in regards to my size and the fashion industry. I previously wrote for Stylist about the lack of dressing opportunities that arise for red carpet events in London, and the stress me and my publicist go through every single time in order to try find something equal to my peers.

I can’t begin to tell you how incredible it was to walk into the 11 Honore showroom in New York and find a Dolce and Gabbana dress in my size. It was a wonderful and luxurious shopping experience.

Do you understand how groundbreaking that is? At the same time, do you understand how sad it actually is to say it’s groundbreaking to find designer in your size?Do you understand your privilege if this is something so regularly available to you? Do you understand the feeling of always feeling less than to your smaller friends due to lack of availability in fashion?

It’s not just Dolce 11 Honore has either; there’s a beautiful showroom showcasing designers including Christopher Kane (up to a UK 22), Prabal Gurung (up to a UK 24), Sally Lapointe (up to a UK 26), Veronica Beard (up to a UK 28) and Christian Siriano (up to a UK 28).

Most of these designers also show at NYFW, meaning you can buy a designer piece in your size and attend the same designer’s show wearing it. UNREAL.

This season in New York we had models including Precious Lee for Christian Siriano, Candice Huffine for Veronica Beard, Saffi Karina for Serena Williams, Paloma Esser for Eckhaus Latta and Alexis Ruby for Marc Jacobs. We also saw independent designers such as Rene Tyler using models from UK sizes 18 to 28 including, plus-size teen model Lex Gibbon.

Chromat also stole the show with its diverse presentation using models of all genders, abilities and sizes to once again prove how forward thinking the brand is with its inclusion.

I just don’t get why the UK is so behind, especially given the figures: the plus-size market is expected to grow to $24 billion in the US this year, and by around £9 billion in the UK.

Isn’t the money enough to make designers and brands open up to the opportunities inclusive sizing and representation will bring? Surely one of the top priorities in a business is to make money? Or is “plus-size” still deemed such a filthy word that brands still don’t want to associate their trends and styles to bigger people? Answers on a postcard please.

In the meantime, London Fashion Week: you are now up. Prove me wrong please.

Image: Getty

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