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3 Ways NY Fashion Week Is Redefining Beauty Standards

author image Laura Hertzfeld
Laura Hertzfeld has reported on entertainment, business, and lifestyle topics at a variety of outlets, including Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine, Tablet, and NPR.  She holds a degree in history from Barnard College, Columbia University.
3 Ways NY Fashion Week Is Redefining Beauty Standards
New York Fashion Week gets underway in NYC. Photo Credit Photo courtesy Brie LaRoda

New York Fashion Week is always a celebration of the wacky, the wild and the wearable — and this year is no exception. But what we weren’t expecting was just how wearable.

“Every show I went to seems like it’s more wearable for the everyday person,” Brie LaRoda, a dresser for New York Fashion Week runway shows, thank you for asking!, tells LIVESTRONG.COM. “As one of the Fashion Week posters says, ‘If you don’t know what color to wear, wear them all.’”

Some brands are going even further this year to take inclusiveness to the next level — calling in plus-size models to walk the runway and using employees rather than models to show the latest styles — while still focusing on the artistry and showmanship that’s expected of Fashion Week.

1. Plus-Size Fashion — Without the Fanfare

“Project Runway” guru Tim Gunn made headlines when he took brands to task in a Washington Post op-ed this week, saying that high fashion brands make designing for and featuring larger women in campaigns the exception, rather than the rule.

“The average American woman now wears between a size 16 and a size 18, according to new research from Washington State University…. But many designers — dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or simply too cowardly to take a risk — still refuse to make clothes for them.”

And while Gunn’s words hold true, it would be remiss not to talk about the exceptions — and there are some big ones this year. One of those is Christian Siriano, who used five plus-size models in his NYFW show without mentioning his plans in a press release or making any big show of it. He also famously dressed Leslie Jones for the “Ghostbusters” premiere in July when other designers backed off.

Check out the runway walk from his show below:

2. Diversity on the Runway

J. Crew traded in a cadre of stiletto-clad runway models for a diverse — and gorgeous — group of its employees and friends of the brand, ranging in age from 13 to 70 and representing a variety of professions and interests. There was even a model who is seven months pregnant. An economical and brave choice for the struggling mall brand.

3. Shows of Empathy and Activism

Political activism isn’t the first thing that comes to mind with Fashion Week, but a few brands are trying to change that.

An Indian acid-attack survivor was front and center at the FTL Moda show, bringing attention to victims of these attacks in India. According to the Wall Street Journal, there were 309 such attacks in 2014 alone. “I believe beauty is not external, but rather what comes from within,” the model, Reshma Qureshi, said in a release.

And with the upcoming U.S. election, the fashion world is trying to do its part to get people to the polls with the #runwaytoregister campaign featuring Kendall Jenner. Younger women — often the biggest consumers of high-end fashion — could be a deciding factor in the election, so the campaign aims to reach them at a critical moment in the campaign cycle.

LaRoda says that getting in touch with the younger generation has been a theme throughout this Fashion Week, with designers listening to millennials and incorporating them beyond the runway strut. “Tommy Hilfiger is working now with Gigi Hadid. The younger generation is mixing and matching clothes. Things you totally wouldn’t pair are working.”

What Do YOU Think?

Are you excited about the trends toward more inclusiveness at Fashion Week? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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