by Tanvi Shah
The fashion industry has always been rife with harsh realities, and one of the most pressing issues is the pressure to fit into a "sample size”.
Sample size typically refers to the standard measurements used by designers to create clothing samples. These are for their collections which are then worn by models during fashion shows and used for photo-shoots.
But what is considered sample size? Typically, it is a size 0 in the United States, which equates to a UK size 4.
The pressure to fit into a sample size is immense, and it falls primarily on the models.
Models are expected to maintain a certain body type and size to be able to wear any clothing for the runway or in campaigns. This expectation is not only unrealistic but also damaging to the mental and physical health of these professionals.
The fashion industry has been known to glorify thinness and perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards. It is time to question the industry's right to comment on women's bodies and begin to create a more inclusive environment.
The power dynamic among celebrities, stylists, and designers is also worth noting. Celebrities have a tremendous influence on fashion trends, and designers want their clothing to be worn by them, which means they have to cater to their body types.
However, not all designers are willing to customize their clothing for specific body types, and this puts pressure on stylists to source clothes that fit their clients.
Even late fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld, has recently been under fire for his fatphobic comments - with many believing his statements should have stopped him being the theme of this years Met Gala.
Some of his quotes include stating, “No one wants to see curvy women,” to the German Magazine, Focus.
He even criticised international supermodels, claiming in an interview with GQ Germany that “Heidi Klum is no runway model. She is simply too heavy and has too big a bust."
So, what can the fashion industry do to be more inclusive?
The first step is to promote body diversity. The industry should showcase models of all shapes and sizes on the runway and in campaigns. This will not only promote positivity but also to provide more options for customers when it comes to choosing clothing that fits their body type.
Additionally, designers should create clothing in a wider range of sizes, not just size 0. They must be more willing to make samples fit for the models, rather than the models being expected to fit the clothing.
While this can be expensive, it is required if the industry is to encourage body diversity and inclusivity. It can also be seen as a good investment for designers because it allows them to access a larger audience and market their brand as inclusive and forward-thinking.
It is also crucial to hold designers, managers, and stylists accountable for their actions. The industry must take responsibility for promoting unhealthy beauty standards and perpetuating body shaming.
A recent example of this is the discussion initiated by Diet Sabya on Instagram.
Diet Sabya is an Indian account that calls out copycats and unethical practices in the fashion industry. They recently posted about a conversation between an Indian actress and her stylist, where the stylist was urging the actress to lose weight to fit into a particular dress. This post sparked a debate about the industry's toxic culture and how it needs to change.
Similar instances of body shaming and pressure to fit into a certain body type have been seen in the fashion industry worldwide.
For example, in 2018, a fashion brand was criticized for selling a "fat-shaming" sweatshirt with the words "Being fat is not beautiful, it's an excuse" printed on it. The brand faced backlash for promoting harmful and hurtful ideas about body image yet celebrities like Kim Kardashian continue to celebrate losing weight - with Kardashian’s last Met Gala outfit, the infamous Marilyn Monroe dress, being highly publicised after she told a Vogue reporter that she'd lost 16 lbs in just three weeks to wear it.
It is time to put an end to the unrealistic beauty standards and pressure to fit into a sample size. Ultimately, no customer is sample size, and it is time to embrace that fact.
In fact, the average size in the UK is 18 - and it's time for the fashion industry to acknowledge that and to make a conscious effort to become more inclusive and accepting of the different body types who want to see themselves on the runway, ad campaigns or website listings.
In conclusion, the fashion sector requires greater transparency and accountability. This includes holding designers, managers, and stylists accountable for their behaviour and fostering an open and respectful culture.
Edited by Emily Duff