In some ways, the Sports Illustrated Runway Show in Miami at the end of last month was much like any other.
There were swimsuits. There were models. There was a catwalk and photographers.
But there was one marked difference.
“Some people [in the audience] were moved to tears,” MJ Day, editor of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit told New York Post.
“They saw themselves represented on the runway, which they never thought they would,” he said.
Specifically, Day was referring to the models Sports Illustrated chose to use. They ranged dramatically in size, shape and ethnicity, in an attempt to be portray women in a more diverse way. Here are some of the models who walked the runway for Sports Illustrated in this show:
As one model stepped foot on the runway, in a one piece costume, cut high on the hips, with a low v-neck front, the crowd applauded and cheered in a way that is virtually unheard of in the fashion world. Usually, catwalk audiences are full of jaded fashion editors, stylists, buyers and bloggers who are silent in the way of their fashion overlord Anna Wintour.
Not this time though.
“I think they were shocked because you don’t typically see that at fashion week … especially at swim fashion week,” Day said of the emotional reaction.
“Being a larger person myself, I know that if you’re over a size 10, there often isn’t an option for you,” Day said.
“That’s really frustrating because I’m happy to spend my money — if I can just find what I want.”
Jessica Lewis, producer of the modeling-industry documentary Straight/Curve, says that the decision is indeed socially overdue, but it's also a commercial imperative. "Retails are noticing that a large majority of the population are demanding more body diversity," she says.
Here is the editor of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, MJ Day at the end of the parade with one of the models from the show:
“It’s a great opportunity not only to be more socially responsible and ethical, but also for marketing" said Lewis.
Hopefully key players in the fashion industry saw the tears, and heard the applause and learned from them. Learned that women of all shapes, sizes and skin colours are desperate to see ourselves represented and ecstatic when we are. Learned that when we feel included we will be more likely to spend money.
And maybe one day women won't be so thankful to see models on a catwalk who actually, in some way, resemble them. Because this kind of basic diversity will be everyday ordinary. As it should be.
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