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Give Me More... Fashion Inclusivity!

Post from Manhattan Minds~ an inspired blog on New York City Art, Beauty, Fashion & Lifestyle by the Founder, Mona Maine de Biran...

It’s no revelation that for ages the common perception of what qualifies as beautiful is a tall, white, skinny woman with long hair. Not so long ago when I was a model, this was the case. Nary did one see a plus sized woman at a show, except seated in the isles. Though beauties as undeniable as Naomi Campbell were as plentiful as the ethnic customers buying the high-priced couture she wore, diversity was painfully lacking.

Let’s not forget that nearly every designer that now spouts their devotion to the popular trend of diversity and inclusion in fashion was, not long ago, guilty of exclusion- racial and body bias.

Happily, in recent years, we’ve seen the fashion industry (if only by popular demand) move toward being more inclusive, if not make an about face. This year NYFW saw more plus models, more tattoos, more smiles with large gaps between the teeth, more birthmarks, more skin colors, more imperfections – more diversity than ever before .

Socially, if not stylistically, fashion is always behind the trend. Slow to adapt.

Some of the newest names in modern fashion are working to turn the tide and tanker. Breaking down fashion stereotypes and becoming more inclusive as a brand. No where was the excitement on the NYFW runway theater over the abundance of models from every country, size, gender and race more palpable this year than at Rihanna's Savage x Fenty show.

I never saw any blond turn as many heads as the scantly clad and pregnant Slick Woods or the always stunning Lily Aldridge. I admit to being personally in awe of these models, almost having a moment of “belly envy”. It’s about high time that our modern culture returns to tribal traditions of venerating the beauty of a body that carries life within.

But how well is this New York Fashion Week inclusivity translating off the runway?

Sadly, off the runway there are still many fashion retailers that cap their sizes. Men and women of “plus” size are relegated to the corners of stores. Even the well meaning retailers often fail to offer a balanced approach at their beauty counters.

But not all hope is lost. Top on my list of affordable favorite do-gooders is Anthropologie, with its attractive, fun and inspired styles is a bit pricier and tends to market to higher-income, established women. As a woman, I identify with its non-conformist vibe all about “the creative-minded woman, who wants to look like herself, not the masses,” as stated on its website.

H&M, a chain most widely recognized for its affordable pricing that allows younger buyers and others with limited funds to shop with the best of them, also carries a wealth of styles and trends translated from the runways to fashion, beauty, accessories and homewares. Their stores include clothing for women, men, teens and plus-size.

Despite the number in its name, Forever 21 I have to admire its mission to cater to the young in spirit and not a physical age. Its clothing is urban and trendy, and abundantly available to men and women in every size. Urban Outfitters may not offer the wider range of size (at least for the girls) that Forever 21 does, but what it lacks in size it tries to make up for in its range of style- from kitten to tomboy.

What’s up, though, with the fashion retailers bias in the beauty corners of their stores?

Still catering to a mostly female shopper, the beauty section of these retailers is designed for women. And, what if you are the kind of women who does not like pink, sequins, flowers and fluffy kittens? That kind- my kind- and men are not served. But then, a good scrub and soap are all a guy needs, right? You’ll find that, but little of it and little else.

According to a Refinery 29 article I recently read, roughly half of men do not use a beauty product in their morning routine. Which, news flash, doesn’t that mean that roughly half of men DO use a beauty product in the morning?

Perhaps if there were more unisex and mens products in the beauty corners of the places men shop for fashion, then they would not have to go to specialty stores. Duh?

Sephora, Ulta and department stores like Nordstrom and Dillards are places I recommend for everyone with beauty products in every shade, gender and style. Feel Unique and Jet.com also offer alternatives to the mainstream brands, whether for women or men or my favorite category- everyone! (unisex).

So, cheers to brands to all the brands atoning for their prior sins, making baby steps or big steps, to be more inclusive instead of segregating!

If you've enjoyed this blog, then please share your thoughts. Manhattan Minds, like yourselves, would love to know! And please follow us on Instagram @ManhattanMinds and Twitter- we love hearing from fans and followers. Manhattan Minds is an inspired blog on NYC Art, Beauty, Fashion and Lifestyle.