Last week, Dia & Co kicked off New York Fashion Week by launching a gorgeous collection from the legendary designer Diane Von Furstenberg. Our launch was attended by some of the earliest pioneers and fiercest champions of inclusive fashion – curve models who’ve been the face of the movement down the runways, editors, and journalists from some of the most influential media outlets in the world who are keeping the industry accountable, celebrity stylists who dress and represent inclusivity in Hollywood, and pioneers of the body positivity movement who literally gave a voice to millions of women on social media, and, of course, Diane Von Furstenberg herself.
The event made a clear statement at the beginning of New York Fashion Week: the plus customer is here to stay, and we need to keep showing up for her. At Dia & Co, we take our responsibility of advocating for our customers and continually expanding their access to fashion very seriously. Partnering with a fashion icon like DVF is the beginning of a relationship that will grow into a greater style and size offering for everybody.
This launch would have been exciting in any year, but it felt imperative this year. This season, we’re seeing serious signs of regression in inclusive fashion and plus-size representation. Even some of the most prominent faces have not yet been seen on the runways. According to Fashion Spot, curve representation on designer runways peaked in Spring ’20 shows and has declined since.
“The plus customer is here to stay, and we need to keep showing up for her. “
This Fashion Week, I fear, may be the steepest decline yet.
Shockingly, it’s looking more like 1993 than 2023. We are seeing a return to the ‘heroin chic’ body type on TikTok, in Hollywood, in the news, and as we are seeing this week, on the runways. This is fanning the flames of weight bias in the worst way.
Despite its origins in Hollywood and on runways, this dynamic directly impacts the 100 million women who wear plus-size clothing in this country.
Runway representation is a leading indicator of what will happen in retail.
Our analysis suggests a two-year lag between the conversations on runways and the options available to mainstream consumers at retailers. Below, we use Nordstrom’s plus-size denim assortment as a proxy for this availability.
As representation rose from 2016 to its peak in 2020, the proportion of denim styles available in plus size doubled at Nordstrom.
Unfortunately, the reverse will also be true. Let there be no doubt that we should expect these style counts to come down as quickly as they rose if runways revert to their previous, homogenous ways.
We’ve already heard of retailers cutting plus-size orders, citing changing consumer body ideals. We need to set the tone and ensure that the plus community has a presence in fashion and trend conversations. We mustn’t lose ground in the hard-fought progress this community has made over the last 10 years.
So what now?
It’s critical that the industry – from brands to retailers, journalists, publications, modeling agencies, and everyone else – step up now to halt the backslide from inclusivity in fashion.
We know it takes work. There are real challenges in successfully building an inclusive business in our industry. On behalf of Dia&Co and 11 Honoré, we will do everything we possibly can to help brands overcome these challenges, like so many of our partners already have. Whether you choose to sell on our platform or not, we commit to sharing all the lessons we have learned in the 10 years of launching brands and serving our community. Of course, if a growing sales channel is needed, we would also love to welcome you to our marketplace.
We have proven there is a successful path to inclusivity. Call us. We can help.
In September, we will gather again as an industry; what will the headline be then? Now is the moment to ensure it’s the one we need it to be: forward progress on inclusivity. Our values and customers demand it of us all.