There is no doubt that there is still room for positive development in the fashion industry. The twenty-first century has seen the growth of many issues, such as the meteoric rise of fast fashion (which is an ethical nightmare for a list of reasons too long to go into here, but includes and is not limited to the exploitation and frequent mistreatment of workers).
But one realm in which fashion has improved over the past several years is in the diversity of design options. There was a time when, if your body was above a certain size, much of fashion was inaccessible to you. Similarly, make-up for people with dark skin was limited in production, and a pale tan or beige was considered the standard ‘nude’ color.
The twenty-first century has seen these norms not only come into question but start to change. Movements to question our own implicit biases, including the way that our standards of beauty affect our treatment of others, have become a key part of how many people perceive and interact with the fashion industry.
One example of the push towards diverse fashion are the Savage x Fenty and Fenty Beauty lines, launched by Rihanna. Savage x Fenty is a lingerie line. They offer underclothes in multiple shades of nude for a variety of skin tones. Some are actually paler than the standard beige, and there are multiple shades of brown and black. In making these options available, Savage x Fenty has made it much easier for women to find a skin match when looking for natural or nude-colored underclothing.
Additionally, Savage x Fenty lingerie is available in a generous range of sizes. Currently, the Savage x Fenty online catalogue includes items in sizes up to 3x, with plans to continue to expand the size availability of their catalogue.
Fenty Beauty has also taken care to include diversity in the launch of its makeup line. Coming out with over forty shades at the time of its first launch, Fenty Beauty has been lauded for providing a large number of make-up options. It is seemingly designed around the notion that everyone has different needs, making it more accessible than ever to people looking to get into makeup, or even to long-time makeup fanatics looking to find a better fit.
Interestingly, Fenty’s diversity is not just a feature that the brand includes and otherwise ignores. It’s actually a cornerstone of their marketing strategy. Savage x Fenty’s Instagram, for instance, highlights a range of models of different races and body types. One post from their Twitter and Instagram prior to Savage x Fenty’s launch highlights this particularly well, declaring: “X stands for ALL.”
And judging by the fact that both Fenty branches are both still afloat and lauded by laypeople and fashion bloggers alike, with a new line of skin products having recently launched, this method seems to have worked for them. Fashion and beauty companies that prioritize inclusivity are appealing in a market where people are looking for clothes and makeup designed to suit them as individuals. Even those who already have their staple products with other companies may jump ship to a manufacturer that supports ideals they’re interested in.
Of course, the issue has not dissolved entirely. Not all companies have miraculously started producing diverse products. In the fashion industry particularly, many companies release ‘plus-sizes’ that are smaller than the standard to create the public image of being inclusive. But societal expectations have shifted; companies are frequently punished by the public when they forget or actively ignore large swathes of their customer base. Now, brands can expect to face criticism for a lack of diverse sizing and options.
As with all things, this trend in fashion has not been received entirely without criticism. But this increased range of options has created a world in which self-expression and creativity through fashion and other beauty products can flourish more than ever before, and that alone is a great thing.