Australian Fashion Week is getting with the times this year, hosting its first plus-size runway show in its 26-year history.
Called The Curve Edit, the runway show will take place as part of the Australian Fashion Week schedule in Sydney in May – with many fashion-lovers wondering why it’s taken so long.
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The Curve Edit show was a “long time coming”, according to Bella Management CEO Chelsea Bonner, who is staging the show.
“If I had pitched this idea even five years ago, it never would have happened,” she told The Guardian.
“It’s a whole new world.
The way we think about bodies, the way we think about ourselves is so different now.”
It seems Australian Fashion Week has finally gotten the diversity memo, because it will also feature a runway show called Adaptive Clothing Collective, which will showcase fashion for people with disabilities.
Chloe Papas, who co-runs a Melbourne-based plus-sized fashion market called A Plus, said the Curve Edit show was a step in the right direction.
“It is a fantastic step that we’re going to see plus-size representation on the runway this year and that we’ll see some really great inclusive brands and plus-size babes out there,” she told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“I think what we’re hoping is that this opens the door to a much bigger conversation.
“We need to start seeing this as a social justice issue.
“[That includes] the lack of representation of plus-size or fat people on our runways, but also the lack of access to inclusive fashion across the board.”
Until recently, Australian agents usually booked runway models who were an Australian size 6, or size 8 at most.
High-end designer clothing is rarely made in sizes much larger than an Australian 12 – a particularly frustrating snub for shoppers keen to spend their money but unable to find anything that fits.
While Australian Fashion Week 2021 drew praise for its Indigenous focus – it held its first all-Indigenous designer showcase along with a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country on opening night – the lack of size diversity remained a sticking point for many.
Curve model Basjia Almaan walked in several shows, but models her size or larger were few and far between on the runway.
“Yes I’m a curve model but I’m still palatable. I’m a size 12-14,” she wrote.
“Where were the BIGGER bodies?”
Basjia called her inclusion in runway shows last year as “tokenistic”, adding that she was “pretty disappointed at how much of a process it was for space to be made for someone like myself.”
“This industry doesn’t make space for all people, it’s still incredibly exclusive and outdated, it’s 2021, we want to see all different types of people on our runways now!,” she added.
“We literally demolished Victoria’s Secret, because we all got BORED of seeing bodies that did not represent majority of the population.”
Chelsea Bonner says her Curve Edit pitch for 2022 was welcomed “with open arms” by IMG, the events company that runs Australian Fashion Week.
“We’re working to create a more accessible and equitable industry by ensuring talented designers, creatives and fashion professionals of all identities have the opportunities and resources they need to succeed,” IMG’s Natalie Xenita told The Guardian.
Australian Fashion Week runs in Sydney from May 9-13.