The Vogue Business AW24 size inclusivity report

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“I think it’s really important to not just work with people who are well known….

“I think it’s really important to not just work with people who are well known. I really admire Ashley, but I also think it’s important to uplift others — there was a time when Ashley wasn’t well known,” Feben says. “The industry isn’t changing as fast as we want because people are not giving space and access, they’re using the same models that they know will pass but they’re not wanting to budge on their safety nets. If you’re a real leader you take chances.”

London-based men’s modelling agency Supa, which represents plus-size model talent like James Corbin, launched a women’s division this month, identifying white space in scouting new diverse model talent. “The industry has in recent years looked to be moving in a more positive direction, but this last show season felt like a huge step back with most runways showcasing a very tall and very slim silhouette again,” says women’s director Tim Clifton-Green, who joined from model agency Next to lead Supa’s new division. “For too long the fashion industry has sidelined certain body shapes and naturally, without exposure in the media, there have not been enough inspirational diverse role models to look up to.”

Supa will work with its model talents to build their profiles in other fields and interests like art or music, he adds, which can help them reach supermodel status. “Building a model’s confidence and allowing them to freely express themselves and let their light shine is so key.”

Street casting remains a priority

Feben says there’s “a lot of politics” involved behind the scenes in casting. “With casting, it depends on who’s taken and who’s in town,” she says. “There are more curve models in London, sure, but the agencies won’t necessarily give you your request because you’re a newer brand.” The lack of plus-size model availability triggers a ripple effect. “The curve models don’t want to walk on their own as the only plus-size models, but it’s frustrating because sometimes you can’t get other girls.”

That’s why emerging brands that prioritise size inclusivity typically street cast a large proportion of their models. Budget is another consideration. “The choice of the plus-size supermodel for us at the moment is still unfeasible because of budget,” says Milan-based designer Marco Rambaldi, a consistent feature in Milan’s top 10. “We always brought friends, people from our community or people we met on the street to the catwalk. We focus on the values we want to express based on our current possibilities. This does not mean that when we are [a bigger brand] we will forget about the unknown [models].”

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