Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Feature Articles

Fake Bag, Fake Lifestyle by Harley
To Intern or Not to Intern by Julia Ross
From Curve to Bone: Evolving for Better or Worse? by Samantha Lawson
Loving and Learning in the real 416 by Patricia Wolff

Behind The Scenes At New York Fashion Week by Chloe Li-Chapman
Lolita: Sexual, or Not? by Eli Chan

Behind The Scenes At New York Fashion Week

September comes around and you know it means the end of summer, back to school and the start of New York Fashion Week. I was lucky enough to be selected out of hundreds of applicants to help volunteer for the full week.  Everyone in the industry knows New York Fashion Week, apart from Milan and Paris is the biggest one. This is the time where huge designers and newcomers share a week dedicated to them and their craft. There are many locations where New York Fashion week takes place, so if you happen to be attending many shows, good luck trying to find a cab. IMG a huge media marketing based business is in charge of putting together NYFW at Lincoln Center. Although there are many offsite shows, Lincoln Center is considered the “corporate” side, where there are many big sponsors that change every year, but the one that remains constant and the biggest is Mercedes Benz.  My main responsibility was being stationed with Mercedes Benz in their private lounge and to make sure their guests were escorted into each show at the appropriate times, communicate with the front sponsor check in and ensure that all sponsor guests had a great time.


Walking behind the scenes of fashion week is not as glamorous as it may seem. It involves hundreds of people walking around talking on headsets, typing furiously away on their iPhone while answering a million emails on their blackberries.  There are 4 venues in the whole building. The Studio, The Stage, The Box and The Theater. The Studio is a smaller venue capacity of 250 excluding media. The Box which is usually just for installations is the smallest venue and can hold 100 people at a time. The Stage second largest venue holds 400 including media, The Theater is the biggest venue which can hold up to 600 people.

Typical Day

Days can stretch to 12hrs with a couple hour breaks in between. At first the volunteers eager to be on site in case they see a celebrity, spend their breaks walking around, venturing to Starbucks down the street and checking out all the sponsor booths for freebies. But as the days go on and the days repeat themselves, most volunteers find themselves spread out along the courtyard by Julliard sitting under a tree napping or finding any dark corner away from crowds to rest, headset still attached. Days are long and unfortunately unpaid, but although you might find yourself questioning if all the work you are doing is worth it by the fourth day, you quickly snap out of it and realize that this is the opportunity you have been waiting for and you are lucky to get the chance to experience something that thousands of girls only dream of.

How to Apply

Anyone can apply to the volunteer program and help out, but the job you want is the one where you work directly under IMG with their sponsors and like all things to do with fashion and PR networking is your best bet to get the job. I was fortunate to have a connection through a friend who had been doing working  with them for years and when he found out they were looking for experienced people to work directly with their biggest sponsor he suggested me for the job. Receiving the write contact info I e-mailed them right away and because his word was so reputable they told me I had the job. Now you never have the job until you actually see it in writing, so I made sure to follow up a week later. When I hadn’t heard back, I made sure to send another e-mail not long after. Soon enough I got a response with about the dates, Volunteer handbook and waiver.  Best advice I can give is to make connections and maintain them well after. By making the connections I did with the head of marketing for Mercedes Benz, they remembered my name and requested I work with them whenever I was in town. I built some strong relationships and unfortunately at the time I wasn’t able to jump on job offers, but I know that by keeping up those relationships I made, this will benefit me in the future when I am looking for a job.

The amount of work that goes in behind all the glitz and glam is extreme and being a part of it is an amazing experience I wish anyone in fashion who is interested can experience. You meet so many different people from all over the world and build so many new relationships. Being in an environment like that just pushes yourself to be at your best whether it be work ethics, social skills and of course your own personal fashion sense. My advice to any girl who has the aspiration to work in fashion and wants to reach a bit further then just here in his or her own city should apply and see what happens. Worst case scenario you don’t get chosen that year, best case scenario you do. If chosen and you decided to attend, I promise it will be an experience you will never forget.



Friday, November 01, 2013

Lolita: Sexual, or Not?

Lolita: Sexual, or Not?
Is the Lolita fashion a representation of sexuality or of modesty?

The word Lolita is commonly known to many people as the title of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel which tells the story of a man lusting after a child. However, Lolita also refers to a type of fashion that originated in Japan. Because of the sexuality that is tied with the word Lolita, it is no wonder then, that many people interpret the fashion to be an extension of the sexuality portrayed in the novel. Although there are points that may tie this fashion to sexuality, there are also points that prove it to be a form of protest against sexuality in women’s fashion.

What is Lolita?
First of all, you may be wondering exactly what Lolita fashion is. The style is largely influenced by Victorian girls’ fashion. There are many strict rules to achieving this look. First, the silhouette must always include a very wide a-line skirt that comes down to the knees. Many women who wear Lolita fashion wear petticoats under their skirts in order to fulfill the fullness that is required. Other distinct features of the fashion include blouses with puff sleeves, lace trims, and bows. Modesty is an important element in the style, the wearer must never show too much skin.

The Controversy
Because of the over-the-top nature of the fashion, it may be considered a strange style of dress to many people outside of Japan. A large topic that often comes up on internet communities, such as Facebook, is whether the fashion really represents the sexualization of little girls or not. On February 3, 2012, a poster for a documentary titled Are all Men Pedophiles? directed by Jan-Willem Breure was uploaded to Facebook by the documentary’s Facebook page. The image portrayed a woman dressed in Lolita fashion. The documentary itself, discusses pedophilia in general and does not actually link the Lolita fashion to pedophilia. Yet, when the image of the poster appeared, many women who dressed in Lolita fashion commented on the image displaying their displeasure at having their beloved style of dress being portrayed so sexually. This example clearly shows the different points of views that people have towards the fashion. Although those who wear it claim that the style emphasizes modesty, outsiders to the fashion end up perceiving it to be something sexual. If it’s not being perceived the way it was intended to be, then what does the fashion truly represent?

The Sexual
The main thing that sticks out about this fashion to many people who are not familiar with it is that it involves adult women dressing up in very child-like clothing. After all, the style is influenced by little girls’ fashions of the Victorian era. In addition to this, girls who dress up in Lolita fashion usually go all out to make their makeup and hair look nice too. The combination of makeup which can represent attraction and seduction and a child’s clothing which represents innocence provides the image that this fashion is about the attraction towards children or a child-like imitation.
In addition, a sub style of the fashion called Sweet Lolita usually incorporates very cute themes. For example, many Sweet Lolita dresses have cute prints on them such as teddy bears, merry-go-rounds, and cupcakes. Some of these prints may be seen to be another representation of children in Lolita

The Non-Sexual
On the other side of the argument, Lolita is said to be a form of protest against the sexuality in regular fashion styles. One strict aspect of Lolita is that it must always be modest. Not much skin is usually shown in Lolita outfits. Even with strapless dresses, the shoulders are usually covered by a blouse worn on the inside or cardigan or shawl worn on top. Skirts should go to about the knee level, preferably just below the knee. Legs do not remain bare, but are covered by stockings or knee socks. These aspects all go against the norms that we are used to in fashion where tank tops and mini-skirts are seen regularly and are perfectly acceptable garments.
As previously mentioned, Lolita often incorporates very cute, child-like themes that can relate the fashion to the sexualization of children. However, these cute themes can also be taken as simply cute themes. Lolita can be seen as a way for women to dress cutely and be attractive without doing so by just showing off a lot of skin.
Does simply covering up remove the sexuality that may be implied by Lolita clothing? Or does the fashion mean a bit more than simply being cute and modest? In the end, fashion in general is a way for us to express our personality to others. Obviously, the women who wear this fashion don’t see their clothes to be sexual at all, but only see it as a fun way to dress up differently than usual. Whether others accept the fashion or not should not matter as long as you have fun dressing up in it. And if this means dressing up a bit differently than what is normal, then so be it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fake Bag, Fake Lifestyle

Fake Bags, Fake Lifestyle

Counterfeit bags; we have all seen them.  Some of us are guilty of owning one, or a few.  They are affordable, foolproof, eye-catching and if well made, are as gorgeous as the original design they are replicated from.  Sometimes a walk through Chinatown is all we need to convince ourselves that that replica Louis Vuitton Speedy bag is a must-buy.  It looks so beautiful, sitting there behind that glass counter with all the other Louis, Gucci, Burberry and Chanel fakes.   No one would know the truth about the bag’s authenticity; instead, people would stare and think “that girl is both successful and in style”. 

            Why is there such a high-demand for replica handbags? The threads on that thirty-dollar Gucci purse are bound to loosen with use, yet people purchase it anyways.  Pay a bit more and you could get yourself a good quality no-name bag that will last for years; but these are not as popular.  And why not?   Why are people paying for a bag that is so cheaply constructed, just because it has red and green stripes stitched onto it?  The answer is simple-- those red and green stripes give fashionable consumers what they want out of a product; status.

            Those famous green and red Gucci stripes.  They are classic and never go out of style.  People know what the stripes represent as soon as they see them.  They are as sought-after as the beige and red Burberry plaid, double Chanel C’s and quilted leather, and the signature LV monogram.  People associate these famous colours, embellishments and logos with wealth and social status.  The real versions of these designer handbags cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.  Not only are real designer handbags purchased for their outstanding, long-lasting quality, but also for that feeling of exclusivity that comes with the outrageous price spent.

            But doesn’t having an entire market for fake designer products contradict the main reason these bags are so sought-after?  Today, fake bags are so easily accessible, meaning anyone can own one.  This takes away the exclusivity of the label.  Louis Vuitton, for example, is one of the most counterfeited brands on the planet.  Take a walk to a busy intersection of the city, and it is hard to tell who’s Louis bag is real, and who’s is a knock-off.  So many people have one.   This has essentially “ruined” Louis Vuitton’s brand image.  Originally, this brand was marketed towards the wealthy and upper class—only the small number of people who could afford to splurge on high-quality designer goods were seen carrying around their product.  Now, those who can afford the real thing might lean towards purchasing a bag of a different brand because too many people have ruined Louis’ exclusivity. 

            Exclusivity is what gives designer labels their status, which is what increases their popularity and in term, makes them desirable to consumers.  Some companies take the value of exclusivity very seriously, making it obvious that they want to attract only one type of customer.  Anyone can save up a few hundred dollars, walk into a Gucci or Louis store, and walk out with a beautiful bag.  Brands such as Hermes, for example, require customers to be a regular shopper at their stores before someone can even mention buying the oh-so coveted Birkin bag.   The company knows that if the bag is too available, it won’t be as wanted.  And anyone who buys a Birkin knows that they are not purchasing just a bag—they are paying for the lifestyle that comes with the hefty price of fifteen-thousand dollars or more.  The lifestyle of social status—people staring at her as she waltzes around Yorkville, wondering, “who is she married to?” or “what does she do for a living?” or even “who are her parents?”

But alas, even the Birkin bag has been counterfeited, and now anyone can pretend to live that lavish lifestyle.

The main question is, is it right? The “fake versus real” argument has been debated many times.  While the act of creating counterfeit goods is highly illegal and unfair to the creators of popular brands, this does not stop people from purchasing fake products, and making the counterfeit market a multi-billion dollar industry.  This entire industry proves that people are not buying the product for its quality, and strictly only for the label, which resembles a lifestyle.  The counterfeit market, which feeds off of the average-consumer’s desire to live the American dream; this market fills the demand for logo bags which say “seven-hundred dollar Louis Vuitton monogrammed purse” on the outside, but say “dollar store quality” on the inside.

So before you pick up that designer replica handbag in Chinatown, think about what you are buying first.  Is it the purse you want, or is it the social status and fabulous lifestyle confided within the contents of the outer dust bag?  Will this bag really be that exclusive if you’re only paying thirty-something dollars for it?  And will it bother you to know that the “lifestyle” you’re paying for is as fake as the bag itself? 

As a fashion student myself, I do not blame people for wanting replica handbags—as shallow as it is, we all love and desire owning those famous logos.  So why not save up for a real designer bag?  There are many amazing and excellent quality brands that are affordable; Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Longchamp, and Kate Spade for example, all have great styles available for under $300.  For even less, Zara, Topshop and American Apparel make amazing real leather bags for as little as $90.  Just because it doesn’t have a logo on it, does not mean it is not chic. Sometimes a simple leather bag is all you need to compliment a great outfit.   And who knows?  One day you might be able to afford an authentic handbag by one of your favourite top designer brands—and knowing that you own the real thing might feel even better than being part of the elite and wealthy lifestyle that these companies have created.

The True Cost of Fast Fashion

 Why bargain purchases may be costing you (and others) more than you think

In the realm of the contemporary retail landscape, retailers are churning out new styles and lines every other week, as opposed to a new collection being released every season. Alongside frequent releases, the merchandise being offered to consumers is often priced alluringly low. The Forever 21’s, the H&M’s, and the Zara’s are prime examples of retailers who gravitate around such business models – low cost, fast fashion, where new merchandise is made available on a periodical basis at the lowest retail price possible. This model centers itself on the idea of mass production and economies of scale, which allows them to sell their merchandise at a lower cost primarily because of the immense volumes they develop.

From a consumer standpoint, this is essentially a win-win situation as a constant stream of new fashions and styles are available at highly affordable price points. Especially in the case of the retailers mentioned above, at any given moment, an article of clothing could be purchased for as low as $10 (and maybe even less if you dig deep). What has made this business model so successful is that for the most part these low prices do not equate to some sort of compromise in style, as opposed to years ago, where bargain clothing may have only meant the neglected, decaying and aged pieces on the sales floor that nobody wanted. We can now purchase, on trend, relevant clothing for next to nothing! (relatively speaking of course)

In this day and age, as we slowly trudge our way out of the tail end of a global recession, we have as a result hold on to our earnings with a firmer grip. We have become more frugal thrifty and informed consumers, with have a higher sense of awareness with what we perceive as value. There has been a shift, more apparent in recent years with regards to the celebration of bargain purchases with the influx of fast fashion retailers. Long are the days of frugality and thriftiness to be seen as a faux-pas.  We have now transitioned into a mentality and attitude where bargain purchases are celebrated, as it serves as a reflection of just how savvy the consumer is.

And there you are, smug in the face, coming out of the store with several bags of new clothes that you purchased for essentially next to nothing.

This has altered the consumer mentality when it comes to clothing. In essence, it has made clothing a disposable commodity that can easily be replaced. The value has been shifted from the garment itself, to the price of the garment.

 Some may argue that these retailers are contributing more bad than they are good to the realm of fashion. To maintain a reasonable margin, the quality of the garment is inevitably compromised. What this has created is an abundance of low-priced clothing that is surely low in quality and craftsmanship.  With such attractively low price points, this drives out competition from independent retailers who simply cannot compete.

How about from a manufacturing perspective? How does the mantra of fast fashion affect those who are involved with making the clothing? For starters, this has lead brands that we continually support to subcontract their production offshore to produce garments at the very lowest price possible. Consequently, these factories are often faced with making the slimmest possible margin, which has a direct affect on work place safety and standards. In order to continue operating, workplace conditions and safety may often be an afterthought, as maintaining operations and meeting the demands of clientele is placed as the priority.  On our end, this has affected local production, as they simply cannot compete with such low prices that offshore production firm’s offer, putting many individuals at risk of losing their jobs.

With such tight deadlines these manufacturing companies must to abide to, they may lose large contracts if they fail to meet these deadlines or their quality is not up to par with the retailer. At the factory level, this has then created added pressure to the laborer physically developing the clothes.  With added pressure on workers, this then contributes to lower workplace standards, and with lower workplace standards, safety issues may arise.

Renee Dudley’s article, The Hidden Cost of Fast Fashion: Worker Safety found in Bloomberg Newsweek puts it best by saying that, “Retailers are wedded to the sales-driving power of fast fashion crafted in low-cost Asian Factories as a way to draw Western shoppers wrestling with joblessness and higher taxes…The American consumer wants it now…they don’t want to wait”. In retrospect, who’s to blame at this point? The consumer for driving the demand for fast fashion? Or the manufacturer pushing the limits of production to maximize margins? Or perhaps both parties are equally guilty?

There are however, some grassroots solutions in battling with the hidden costs of fast fashion. For starters, transparency from a manufacturing standpoint must be established. In the exact same way we would like to know where the food we are about to consume, it is an obligation to know where and how the garments were made.

 For the most part, the contemporary consumer has been so far disjointed from the clothing that they buy, that they no longer feel some sort of personal connection to it. As mentioned earlier, clothing has become a disposable commodity that can easily be replaced at a moments notice. Amongst the masses, there is no longer a value and appreciation placed on quality and craftsmanship, as many will place price over quality. If that is achieved, we can potentially be on our way in consuming less, and being one step closer to finding a solution to the hidden cost(s) of fast fashion.

To Intern or Not to Intern

Vogue, W, and GQ hold some of the most coveted internships available to fashion students but on October 23, 2013 Conde Nast, who owns Vogue, W, GQ and many more, announced they will be discontinuing their internship programs. This comes on the heels of rising controversies regarding unpaid internships as covered by the media. Though there has long been debate over unpaid internships it has only come to light over the past few years.

Internships are generally reserved for student enrolled in a post-secondary institution. They are available in almost all industries but are most know to be associated within the media, film, and fashion industries. Almost all internships are unpaid; however, when they are paid they are rarely at or over minimum wage. They also require a serious time commitment. On average you are expected to work 3 days a week for several months. So why bother with an internship?

When asking an industry professional or administration at a university or college why partake in a program that offers an internship you will most likely hear how you will gain invaluable experience. You will receive firsthand knowledge and hands on experience in a particular job that you may be interested in pursuing. Taking an internship often provides clarity on your future career path. It gives you the opportunity to explore the different areas of your chosen industry so that you can get a feel of where you might like to end up. Internships can provide you with a competitive edge against other post graduates who have chosen not to do an internship. It shows your potential employer that you have had experience in the industry and gives you a potential reference when applying for jobs.

Another huge benefit of internships is the networking aspect. You have the opportunity to meet people in all different areas of the industry that you would not normally have access to. Knowing these people can open a variety of doors for you whether it is a reference for a potential job or to put you in contact with an industry professional whose area you are interested in. Many interns are also hired by their employer after their placement is over. The employer gets to see you in action and should you make a good impression you will be top of their mind when a position opens.  

But not everyone shares this view of unpaid internships. Lauren Ballinger and Matthew Leib are former interns at W magazine and The New Yorker who are currently in a lawsuit with Conde Nast, parent company to those magazines. They both acquired paid internships but were paid way below minimum wage. As reported by Susan Adams of Forbes magazine Leib was paid $300-$500 for each of the two summers he worked there. His job was to read, proofread and review articles. Ballinger said in the complaint that she was paid just $12 a day for shifts that ran 12 hours or more at the fashion magazine. These accusations are claiming that the internship was actually illegal. It is speculation that this lawsuit is the very reason Conde Nast has discontinued their internship program. This isn’t the only lawsuit; there have been an ever rising number of them throughout Canada and the United States over the past 5 years. In another incident, Andy Ferguson, an Alberta student, died in a head on collision after working his internship at Astral Media for 16 hours straight. His girlfriend, Caelie Crowley, told Kathy Tomlinson of CBC news that Andy told her a manager said if he didn't work that night, Astral wouldn’t give him the credit he needed to graduate. Though these are two very extreme cases they do shed light on how students in internship programs are being taken advantage of.

There have been rising complaints of interns working long hours, doing menial jobs that have nothing to do with the job itself, doing tasks that a paid employee would do and a push for all internships to be paid. As it stands the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Labour do not regulate or keep statistics on interns. They are not covered by the Employment Act nor are they covered by the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA). This makes it all very difficult to ensure proper and fair treatment of interns. Often the responsibility lands on the administration of the university or college of the program you are taking. They will often provide students with forms for work place safety and insurance provided by the Ministry of Training, however, this is no guarantee of proper treatment.

Aside from actually taking on an internship you have to be able to afford it. Previously internships were considered only available to those from privileged families. Taking an internship could mean moving to a different city and giving up or cutting down your real job all while trying to pay for rent, food and tuition. This financial burden usually falls onto the families of the intern. On occasion the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) will provide a small amount of funds to interns to help with finances but this usually has to be requested by the post-secondary institution.

In the end, to take on an internship is an individual choice. You need to ask yourself how it will benefit you and can you financially afford it. Talk to the internship coordinators at your university or college to discuss what a proper internship entails and what to do should you find yourself in a difficult situation or feel as though you are being taken advantage of. Like Francis Bacon said “Knowledge is power.” Once you have all the facts you should be able to make the right choice for you.

From Curve to Bone: Evolving for Better or Worse?

‘God. My hips are huge.’ ‘Oh please. I hate my calves.’ ‘I used to think there was just fat and skinny. But apparently there’s lots of things that can be wrong on your body’ (2004). One of the iconic quotes from the teen hit, Mean Girls, about a girl navigating her way through high school and ‘girl world’, sheds light on the disparity between perception and reality. Adolescent girls are bombarded with over 180 minutes of media images a day showcasing various ideals of beauty (Heubeck 2006). The continued habitual nature of this exposure forces teens to try to assimilate to them; some taking more drastic measures, including eating disorders.

As society evolves, different concepts of ‘feminine beauty’ arise and disappear based on the aesthetic standards of that time period. From the voluptuous curve of Marilyn Monroe to the frail frame of Kate Moss, the vast difference in ideals can be seen even within the last 40 years. The average model is now more than 20 percent underweight (Wiseman 1992). These models are being over-represented in the media resulting in a small minority of women being able to relate based on body size. In a study of 500 adolescent girls, nearly 70 percent believed magazine images influenced their idea of the ideal body shape, and 47 percent desired to lose weight as a result (Field 1999). The self-satisfaction of young girls is becoming negatively affected by these social stereotypes.

Flipping through the pages of a magazine, a reader would be hard-pressed to find an image that has not be altered. The vast majority, if not 100 percent, of magazine and advertising images receive retouching before heading to print. This alone sets the standard for perfection extremely high. The models do not even have to be the ideal for the final product to appear so.

Credit is due to certain brands that attempt to take back the power of the media and direct it towards healthier ideals. Verily Magazine attempts to alter the face of magazines, without altering anything at all. Verily (2013) vows to “never alter the body or face structure of [the] models with Photoshop.” The magazine feels the unique features contribute to the beauty of reality; in doing so, they are on the cusp of a new revolution.

Another company that stands out is Dove with their Beauty campaigns. The campaign stems from a study The Real Truth About Beauty, focusing on the definition of beauty across the globe. Dove launched their campaigns to ‘make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety’ (2013). Their newest video advertisement shows women describing their features to a sketch artist, resulting in a dissimilar sketch of the woman. The video went viral and sparked the notion that our self-perceptions continue to be disconnected from reality.

A similar disconnect exists in the corporate identity of Dove and its sister company, AXE—both owned by UniLever. It is difficult to acknowledge the power of the Dove campaign without also acknowledging its relationship with the AXE brand, notorious for its sexist advertisements. Although two separate brands, Dove, being such an activist for beauty in the media, should focus on the corporate image and related affiliations to give higher value to their overall message. The phrase ‘guilt by association’ certainly poses a great question in this case.

VOGUE has also taken steps forward to change the face of beauty with placing age and weight restrictions on models. This comes after the Council of Fashion Designers of America created a voluntary initiative in 2007, which “emphasizes age minimums and healthy working environments during New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week” (USA Today 2012). The keyword here is voluntary, as designers have the decision to use the models they desire, resulting in the continued use of thin models on the runway.

With only two percent of women believing they are beautiful (Dove 2013), it is not difficult to determine that there is a problem with overall self-esteem among women. It may be a little more difficult to pinpoint where to make the changes. Until the ‘ideal’ is shattered, the evolution of societal norms will continue at its current pace. The issue lies within the mentality of those buying into these ideals, for which we are all guilty. The magazines are still selling—each with their retouched cover with that ‘IT’ celebrity or model and most with an article pertaining to changing your body type either through diet or exercise. The modern narrative about women seems to focus on “what we should look like, how we should date, how to be successful, what should make us happy” despite women being more educated and influential than ever before (Verily 2013). It is realizations like this that move us forward. There are clearly frontrunners in the attempt on changing the way society views beauty. These need to continue to blaze the trail for others to join, which they will. That’s the great thing about society—it constantly evolves.

The Skinny on Fashion Models

The ever so shrinking world of being a model in the fashion industry
Each year, as fashion weeks all around the world approach, we are greeted by magnificent fashion lines, stunningly beautiful designs, ritzy parties all over the city, and the fresh new ideas from designers we have come to love. With such events, many issues of ethics within the fashion industry are brought back to light. One of the longest running issues within this industry being: Are these models portraying a healthy body image for the millions of men and women looking up to them? For years, body image has been one of the largest ethical issues surrounding the fashion industry. Since the 1960’s, models have begun to decrease in size, and it only continues getting worse and worse. With that said, it raises many questions, such as: How skinny is too skinny? Will this issue ever be resolved? When will enough finally be enough?

It has been taken into account that many of the models participating in such fashion shows continue to get younger and thinner as each year passes by. As models such as Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley, and Tyra Banks leave the stages and newer, younger models come to light, they are many sizes smaller. These size 0 models continue to learn new ways to lose weight, as well as are asked in some situations to become even thinner than they already are. It is such situations that create eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, as well as spark such interest in the tabloids and newspapers.

The fashion industry has been one of the main ways for young boys and girls to find role models that they believe are suitable for themselves. What many of these children fail to realize at such a young age is that they could possibly be hurting themselves in the long run. The media portrays these celebrities and models as being beautiful and even somewhat perfect. Children, men and women believe that they need to be like these famous faces in every way possible, including their physical appearance. We also believe that we must look like these famous faces seen on runways and in magazines, and will go to extreme extents in order to do so. Celebrities and models today are becoming even thinner than role models of the past. The worst part is that this is what is seen as socially acceptable and even as a norm in society. Over time, the industry and many media outlets have caused the idea of what is seen as beautiful to “shrink”, meaning that all of these role models are no longer full figured or healthy-looking.

Some might say that this is just what the fashion industry has grown to become, and how it has evolved like all business industries tend to do. The fact is designers find it simpler to dress a smaller range of women for their shows. As Nigel Barker, photographer, spoke to journalist EJ Dickson for, he stated that, “I love the idea of equality and all the rest of it – but obviously there are certain paradigms with the fashion business that are not so much to do with you having to be perfect, but it has more to do with much more pragmatic things. Designers simply can’t afford to make dresses in 10 sizes for a sample. They really want to make one size that’s a sample size, and for whatever reason, they decide it’s gonna be a 4, or if it’s a large size, it’s gonna be a 6. Quite often it’s between a 2 and a 4, and it fits a girl who’s around 5-foot-9, and that’s their look.” This is what the fashion industry has come to know and that could possibly be all there is to it. It is much easier for designers and fashion houses all over the world to create one sample in one size, in order to dress the models for their shows, and like Nigel has said, they have chosen to make such samples in a smaller range.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, also known as the CFDA, has recognized these issues within the fashion industry and wants to make changes. The have created what is called The Health Initiative, a way of educating designers and companies, as well as models themselves. They provide guidelines that must be followed, as well as send a message out that ‘Health is Beauty’, as stated by Diane von Furstenberg, CFDA’s President, and  Steven Kolb, CFDA’s CEO, on their website. They have over 400 American designers that have signed up with them and agreed to follow the rules and standards they provide, in order to make the industry a better place for all people to work. The CFDA also partners with companies during the fashion weeks around the world, as well as for special events, in order to provide models and other workers participating in such events with juices and healthy foods to stay nourished.

The fashion industry is one of the fastest evolving and changing industries throughout the world. With such initiatives and standards being introduced, such as the work of the CFDA, we can only wait to see which aspect of the fashion industry will change next, and what designers and companies will be the ones to get the ball rolling. The reality of the model problem hits all designers and fashion companies, it is the true test to see which ones will make the necessary changes in order to shock the audiences, as well as combat such unrealistic standards that are currently set in place.