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Big names in fashion say the industry is shedding its history and becoming more diverse


WASHINGTON (Circa) — In a shift spearheaded by more diverse models and more environmentally conscious consumers, the fashion world is giving itself a new look.

There’s no better example than the runways this season, as designers showcase their Spring/Summer 2019 collections in New York, London, Milan, and soon Paris.

When the British Fashion Council announced that all 80 participating designers in London Fashion Week had opted out of using fur, it exemplified a shift in consumer consciousness.

This year also marked the first time all models were given access to private dressing rooms, a shift from the previous practice of allowing the press and photographers backstage as models changed.

But perhaps the most noticeable change was the increased inclusivity among models.

According to the Fashion Spot, the runways in Spring 2018 marked a high point for racial diversity, with more than 30 percent of models being non-white, up from 17 percent just three years earlier.

“I’m seeing models of color being put in the spotlight more, especially dark-skinned models like myself,” said Anok Yai, a model who recently landed an Estee Lauder contract.

“For the first time in my life, I was able to flip through a magazine and see somebody who resembles me,” said Somali-American model Halima Aden, who broke barriers as the first hijab-wearing woman to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, as well as the first hijab-wearing model to sign on with mega-agency IMG Models. “To give this honor to so many Muslim girls who wear the hijab, and for them to have the opportunity to see somebody who is dressed like them....is incredible.”

“Fashion has this long history of sort of being unapproachable and not very nice, and I think that’s actually changing right now,” said model and recording artist Karen Elson. “We want to be representative of all men and women of different backgrounds, shapes, body sizes, and to be a more accountable business.”

Ivan Bart, president of IMG Models, couldn’t agree more. “Whether it’s about race, whether it’s about women’s issues, whether it’s about age issues, gender, size. This is an exciting time to be a part of this industry, because we can lead the change that will affect society.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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