Talking about Changing the Face of Fashion with the CEO of Models of Diversity

Fashion is an industry that is aiming for perfection in every aspect. The continuous strive to fit in with a mould of the moment will always be part of the sector. However, in recent years there has been a change and a sense of public duty to push for more diversity.

Many young girls look up to perfected images of models and celebrities. Those pictures themselves never truly look similar to the model photographed. These images have become the goal for those across the world, no matter how impossible it is to gain them.

When you ask a primary school child, or pre-pubescent child; more so than ever they will state that they want to be famous. Many young girls, not all, in schools strive to be models. They are brought up in a society where beauty equals wealth, over individuality and education.

Now, this is not to claim that the majority of children, or society are like this. However, it is a reality of many schoolchildren across the UK, if not the world.

Due to this, many young adults send in photographs to modelling agencies in the hope that they are what they want. This happens more in the last decade, due to the mobility of agencies and abundance of them. It seems that young adults search for that reassurance of being beautiful, and ultimately this comes with the acceptance into an agency or fashion brand.

For the strong majority, nothing ever comes from the agency. But this doesn’t demonise the person who sent in the pictures, and more important, does not mean they are not beautiful. But we cannot shove the blame on bookers or agencies.

It is obvious in the industry that there is a lack of representation of the ‘everyday woman’. But what can be done to change the mind-set of the industry, when it has been stuck in the perspective of fashion houses and capitals across the world for so many decades.

“Due to my athletic build and being a size ten, I was considered too big for the fashion world. This halted my modelling career.”

Angel Sinclair is now the managing CEO of Models of Diversity. An organisation that is campaigning for the representation and diversity of models in the fashion industry. The campaign group [MOD] are calling on all areas of the industry; including the beauty and marketing industry, to recognise the beauty of all races, ages, shapes, sizes and abilities.

Sinclair begins the interview by impacting what the aim of the campaign is; that we want to change the face of fashion and modelling.

After working alongside Gok Wan in TV show, Miss Naked Beauty, Angel began to see the disparities of the industry. Stating that after being on the show it made her question where were the disabled models? And the models of colour? The now CEO said that she realised that there needed to be a change and due to this MOD was born in 2008.

It’s been eight years since the campaign has started, and along with the campaign the industry can be seen to have changed progressively since then. Slowly, but definitely surely.  Despite this, Sinclair establishes that there still isn’t enough being done, and why the campaign is so important to impact the public.

Although the campaign focuses on the generalised fashion industry and the marketing teams behind the fashion shows. We talked about the luxury fashion sector, and the past Couture Week in Paris, we discussed deeply the lack of diversity in French fashion houses; including Lanvin, Celine and Balenciaga.

Balenciaga according to Refinery29 reported that there were only four models of colour who walked in the Balenciaga show, which unfortunately is an improvement on previous years.

Additionally, the disparity of models of colour can also be seen in trendy fashion house Gucci – in their Milan Fashion Week show in February, 119 models walked in the show, 102 were white and only 17 were models of colour.

Yves Saint Laurent has been under fire for many years, in some cases it has been one of the worst supporters of women of colour. When discussing the lack of diversity within Paris, Angel simply claimed that it was it was because they [fashion houses] were scared.

Angel believes that the instability and support of the diversity of models comes down the marketing techniques of the fashion houses.

As someone who has had experience within the industry, Sinclair adamantly states that the houses see their lines selling, and therefore they are not interested in changing for any reason. She believes that many of those houses are not interested in what the consumer wants to see.

The consumer wants, and needs to see diversity. Models of Diversity is campaigning to show how much the fashion houses should be taking note and beginning to listen to the consumer. After a certain point of time the consumer will stop seeing themselves in the collection, and therefore they will not be investing in it.

But we shouldn’t be so pessimistic on the fashion industry. Amongst the disparity there have been improvements to the industry – this can come from the recent laws in France for BMI of models and the awareness of plus-size models.

Sinclair is strongly appointed on the theme of plus-size models, insisting;

“Why does it have to be that they aren’t just described as a model and are in fact always described as something else.”

Paris Couture Week has been and gone, and fashion house Kenzo cast 83 Asian models for its Spring 2018 show. Alongside this, music for the show was inspired by Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and model Sayoko Yamaguchi.

After discussing the show, and the progressive transition implemented by the show. The conversation turns back on what Angel and her team are moving towards. Angel discusses how the Kenzo show isn’t the beginning of the end, and the fight essentially is not over. Sheclaims that it is just one brand that is pushing this.

“We would love for more fashion houses to use a diverse range of models in their campaigns.”

Recent seasons in hindsight, suggest that fashion houses are using the ‘box-ticking’ technique with show casting. It seems that as long as the designer has one model representing each nationality and ethnicity, their job with diversity is done. That is how the industry is justifying its inconstancy of models.

Angel agrees, she says that fashion shows are not showing a true representation of diversity; going on to say that one black model doesn’t showcase all black models, the same with any nationality.

It comes down to the representation of real woman from the real world in the fashion industry; something which I have to say is far flung from anything normal or average.

MOD and many charities want to see what is represented when you walk down a street. The sense that no one person is the same.

We know that within one size group, no one woman will look the same. Nobody is a complete copy of another. Agreeing with this statement, Sinclair declares that it [the fashion industry] isn’t a true representation of society or the consumers.

Ultimately the consumers are who truly matter in the cases of fashion. They are the ones who are going to be buying their clothes, therefore they need to see similarities in the models to buy the clothes.

A middle aged woman who is a size 14, will not feel represented by a size six twenty-year-old walking down a catwalk.

Models of Diversity isn’t just a campaign that aims to represent women and men of colour, or ethnicity, but also models with disabilities. To which there are an abundance.

When questioned about the idea of that many models with disabilities might become exploited by the industry. Angel asserted that models with disabilities have been used as tokenism, instead of working alongside ‘normal’ models in the industry.

When you look back at all the fashion shows you have seen or watched, not once has there been a model with a disability. This is damaging towards young children across the world, who have disabilities, their lack of representation in a world full of beauty and glamour may lead to the feeling of low self-esteem, or confidence.

Sinclair states that, a disabled model would never be described as a model, more over they would be labelled by what makes them stand out. MOD are aiming to make sure that models with disabilities are getting the support that they need, and the promotion that is necessary.

When moving back to the idea of tokenism, Angel discusses that the only time models are exploited is when models are used as a gimmick for press or publicity. For the brand and not the model.

Moreover, they are used as a state to essentially show that they are ‘woke’. That they accept all bodies for their brand, however, the reality is that you still have to reside within a box to be part of their line.

What seems paramount is that Sinclair is passionate in her duty to provide diversity in the industry. With that strive to change the face of fashion, it is immanent that in the next decade there will be a lack of moulds.

Models of Diversity is a campaign which will make a difference to the world, and hopefully one day Sinclair and her team will be able to show that everybody can be represented and that the most important part it breaking free of those moulds.

What do you think of this interview? Remember to check out Models of Diversity on all social media accounts. Have an opinion? Let us know what you think, we would love to hear from you.