The Not-So-Glamourous Reality

Behind the glossy pages, billboards and fashion weeks, a darker reality lies beneath the glamourous exterior. It’s no surprise that back lash has resulted from years and years of abusing this illusion within the industry. These bad behaviors have led to the encouragement of eating disorders, sexual abuse and disregard of labor laws. Of course, it’s understandable that designers want to find a model that will portray their collection in the best light, but that’s no excuse for the consequences that have come of these actions.

Picture Me 516lr4gQfiLis an eye-opening documentary directed by Sara Ziff, a successful veteran model, and her boyfriend, Ole Schell. It starts out by explaining the basics of the industry and shows how Sara started her prosperous career at the age of 18. At first glance, Sara’s life is the epitome of glamour: jet setting to Paris, walking in shows like Chanel, seeing her billboards line the streets and cashing checks a size that some of us may never see in our lives. As time progresses and Sara meets more and more models, their struggles become more apparent. The documentary introduces us to models across the globe who have come face to face with this harsh reality of the modeling industry.

Since this documentary aired in 2009, there definitely have been improvements within the fashion industry as a whole. In 2015, Paris Fashion Week declared that all models must be of a healthy BMI to participate. Fashion weeks across the globe have slowly followed suit. There has also been an increase in diversity, especially in New York. This season of NYFW featured the most models of plus sizes, ages above 50 and transgender. Even 31.5% of models were of color. Designers, like Christian Siriano, Marc Jacobs and Brandon Maxwell, casted models in a variety of ethnicities, ages and sizes. Another trend setter has been Aerie. 56df40e41500002a000b16a1Their #AerieReal campaigns have received much positive recognition from consumers. They include models of all kinds without the use of retouching. Consumers were so adamant about these changes that Aerie saw a 20% increase in sales during its initial launch in 2015. These are feats in the right direction for the fashion industry, but they are only baby steps in the larger scheme.
Sara Ziff has also founded The Model Alliance to help combat these changes. As models do not have access to a union as other performers, such as actors with SAG, The Model Alliance was created as a volunteer-run advocacy group for American models. Their goal is to ensure long lasting change in labor standards, financial transparency, affordable health care and set an industry standard code of conduct. These changes will not only directly benefit the models but create more ethical work environment for all and set a better example to the many who admire the fashion industry. 
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NYFW Makes a Statement

New York Fashion Week is always about making a statement- but this season went past just a daring fashion choice. The fashion industry reaches nearly every person on the planet (well besides nudists), so why not use such a powerful platform for the greater good?

Designers and influencers took note of this for NYFW AW17 to make a statement to society: whether it was about human rights, feminism or diversity. This season was host to the most models of plus sizes, ages above 50, and transgender. Even 30.3% of the models were of color. The CFDA set the tone before the week started by giving away pins saying “Fashion Stands with Planned Parenthood” to industry leaders and attendees to provide support and education on the benefits of Planned Parenthood. Mara Hoffman even invited the leaders of the Women’s March to speak prior to her show.

As the week continued, designers used their platforms to spread positive messages in their own unique ways. Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung, and Jonathan Simkhai still featured gorgeous garments as well as groundbreaking slogan tees. The influence of the 1970’s was still prevalent this season with the use of extravagant furs, bold colors and meticulous detailing. Christian Siriano and Prabal Gurung closed their shows with slogan tees that left a statement in the mind of the attendees. “People are People” was the stand out at Christian Siriano while Prabal Gurung had an array like “Revolution Has No Borders” and “I Am an Immigrant”. Jonathan Simkhai highlighted his beautiful designs on the runway, but attendees left with t-shirts that said “Feminist AF”.

Another common theme was drawn from patriotism. Designers like Coach, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs all drew inspiration from America. Coach and Marc Jacobs both channeled the old school, New York hip hop scene for their collections. Coach even took it a step further by combining influences of the wild west in the garments as well as using a prairie as the runway. Raf Simons utilized the classic red, white and blue for his runway debut for Calvin Klein. His statement was less obvious but still effective as he closed his show with David Bowie’s “This is Not America”.
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Change is Coming… And It’s Under 30

It’s no secret that the world of fashion is evolving at a rate so fast that some of us are even having a hard time keeping up. Although, change is ultimately what the entire industry is built on; that craving for the latest and greatest is never quite satisfied. With media playing such a prevalent role in our consumption of fashion, change is moving faster and more drastically than ever before.

Vogue recently posted an article titled “Change is Coming: 13 Talking Points for an Evolving New York Fashion Week”. Change has been a rapid influx since the “see now, buy now” model was put into place by various designers then followed by NYFW heavy hitters’, like Rodarte and Tommy Hilfiger, decisions to show in other markets.

All of this led to my interest in talking point #1 “Is NYFW optional?” and #3 “Is NYFW more important than ever?”. My initial impression to these ever changing formats, whether it’s “see now, buy now” or outlandish forms of presentations, like Opening Ceremony’s display at the New York City Ballet, is a call for attention. With the overabundance of media coverage, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of various forms of coverage. It has nearly become a competition of who can stand out the most.

With that being said, it is more important than ever that brands are participating in NYFW. This the most covered and reputable access point for brands throughout the year. Even though the market is so saturated, it is not worth missing out on the opportunity to stay relevant to the consumer. The various presentations are now focused on grabbing the attention of the consumers rather than professionals. Whether they gather their information from Vogue Runway or Instagram, an intriguing presentation will get a brand notice. This format has truly risen the bar and now is the time for designers to take advantage of the opportunity to shine.

This change is not only relevant at New York Fashion Week but within the fashion industry as a whole. A prime example of this is in Forbes 30 under 30 2017 Arts & Style list. These professionals are making waves in the industry with their innovations across all platforms.

Julia Gudish Krieger, 28, is the founder of VillageLuxe. She describes it as “Rent the Runway” for your everyday wardrobe. They offer high-end items to their customers like Hermes Birkin bags and Chanel boots. It’s become so popular that there’s actually a waitlist of thousands, and you need an invitation just to join. She’s found the perfect way to maintain exclusivity of their products while still making them more accessible to a wider market.

Another young professional bringing change to the industry is James Charles. He’s only 17 but has achieved the ultimate beauty rank of a CoverGirl ambassador. As the first male ambassador, he is opening doorways for beauty influencers of all backgrounds to reach success. In fact, he is only a high school senior and a self-taught makeup artist. He goes to show that with enough passion and determination, the sky isn’t even the limit.

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