Australian fashion designer Leina Broughton speaks out about the failure of the fashion industry when it comes to size inclusivity. Here she writes for The Carousel about why the industry needs to have a rethink.
Lack of size representation has again been in the focus as local brands showcased their designs at this month’s Melbourne Fashion Festival.
But just five per cent of brands showcased at the event catered to women over a size 16, with only three of the 56 labels offering above size 16.
It’s time to change the narrative and see more diversity on Australian runways.
Bravo to Ginger and Smart, Rachel Gilbert and Amber Days for catering for more women – we need to be seeing more of this.
Fashion and aspirational trends remain exclusive to those size 16 and smaller.
What message does this send?
I’ve heard so many stories from women who have the income and desire to purchase from fashion brands, but the thought of going into a store where all that is on offer for their size is a scarf or accessory is embarrassing and belittling.
Watching the runways in Australia, you’d be forgiven for not realising that the average dress size in Australia is 12-14.
We continue to showcase a single shape. Why are we so against women of different shapes and sizes?
There is an old default that says we ‘need’ models to be coat hangers in this country. How is this relevant to the majority of women?
There is some movement in the industry though, with different shapes and ages showcased on the runway in Europe at the Valentino Spring Couture show.
Mature, veteran, and curve models walked in Pierpaolo Piccioli’s latest show, surely if Valentino can aim to bring inclusivity to couture, other brands can too.
There was a lot of anger after Australian Fashion Week in Sydney last year, where ‘bigger’ models were invited – but only to sit in the audience.
Melbourne Fashion Week wasn’t much better. Of the 70 odd labels listed, only 21 offered over a size 14 and just 8 catered to a size 16.
At the same time, eating disorders among girls in Victoria and New South Wales have almost doubled in the last two years alone.
A study by Swinburne University found an increase of more than 60% in reported restrictive eating and a 30% spike in binge eating in those with a history of eating disorders.
The study also found a 30% increase in these behaviours among people with no history of disordered eating, with lower self-esteem and negative body image to blame.
I’ve spent the last five years ranting about sizing. When will we finally include more than one size, one height, one look? Until then, we can”t support events which are stuck in an archaic and irrelevant past.
We’d love to do our own runway but it won’t be about size, height or age. It will be all about empowered fashion that is created for Australian Women to celebrate who they are. To create clothing that represents the confidence they have inside.
The timing of Melbourne Fashion festival falling across International Women’s Day and yet once again highlighting the inequality of luxury and how high end is showcased is so disappointing.
Leina Broughton is one half of fashion label Leina & Fleur.