Last year we reported on the Women’s Equality Party’s (WEP) drive to introduce more diverse catwalks, which culminated in a protest ahead of the launch of London Fashion Week. Seven diverse female models, including plus size model, Iskra Lawrence and disabled model, Kelly Knox, gathered to protest against the event’s obsession with size zero and called for models of more shapes, races and sizes to be included in its runway shows.
But it’s not just women’s fashion that needs a body positive hit. And yesterday campaigners protested outside the home of London Fashion Week Men’s calling for greater diversity in male fashion.
As hundreds of male models prepare to hit the catwalk today to mark the start of London Fashion Week Men’s, a group of diverse male models stopped traffic as they protested over the fashion industry’s underrepresentation of everyday, real men and called for male models of more shapes, sizes and disabilities to be more widely included in runway shows and fashion campaigns.
Organised by menswear retailer, Jacamo, the #FashionForEveryMan demonstration was made up of contestants from their Real Man Runway 2016 model search competition.
Appearing outside of London Fashion Week Men’s main venue on the Strand, the group held placards branded with shocking research findings, which exposed the pressure of ‘perfect’ models, whether stacked or skinny, driving men to extreme measures.
Last year’s catwalk shows saw many male models with a tiny 28 inch waist size take to the catwalk, which stands in stark comparison to the UK average of 37 inches.
The study of UK men, commissioned by the menswear retailer, revealed that a whopping 95% of men don’t feel like the models used in fashion campaigns and advertising represent them. Consequently, a third of them aren’t happy with their current body shape, with over half (57%) resorting to going on a diet and a significant 20% going to extreme measures, which include taking slimming pills or embarking on a crash diet.
Speaking of the findings Ed Watson from Jacamo said: “While we were shocked to hear how little men feel represented by the fashion industry, we weren’t surprised. It’s our ongoing ambition to make more men feel represented on the high street, so while there has been progress over the years, there’s still a long way to go with the male fashion industry lagging behind women’s.”
And the company are keen to break down boundaries to ensure the male fashion industry becomes more inclusive.
“There’s no denying the models here at Men’s Fashion Week look great, but they’re not always representative of UK men and we’re here to make that known. We believe that fashion should be for every man, without any barriers, and that’s why we aim to widen the net of models used,” he continued.
Jack Eyers, who took part in the #FashionForEveryMan protest, believes the male fashion industry needs to become more representative of various different body shapes and abilities. “In my experience, being able to dress well gives you a sense of confidence,” he says. “As an amputee, growing up there was a lack of fashion icons that looked like me and nobody that I could relate to. This made me feel singled-out and alone, as I was not represented. My ambition is to change this so that people and particularly young people growing up feel represented in the fashion industry.”
The protest follows last year’s news of the signing of the UK’s very first plus-size model. Surrey native Ben Whittaker (aka Ben Whit) was signed to the London-based Bridge Models agency in March as Britain’s first ever brawn model.
In problems widely discussed by female plus-size models, the 24-year-old has previously opened up about the difficulty he found landing jobs for widely known brands, as they simply don’t carry clothes for guys who don’t fit into the standard sizes.
“A lot of high street companies don’t sell big enough sizes,” he told the Guardian. “I’d have to buy clothes online and hope they would fit, and at the start of summer I’d buy large shorts quickly before the few pairs available had sold out. It was frustrating.”
But movements like the #FashionForEveryMan are hoping to change that. Because while we’re slowly making progress in the strive for body positivity in the female fashion realm, there’s till a little way to go for our male counterparts.
Baby, or should we say brawny steps boys.
What do you think? Do you think men’s fashion needs more diversity? Let us know @YahooStyleUK