Kicking off London Fashion Week on Friday 15 February, Hayley Hasselhoff gathered an army of defiant global models, diversity campaigners and social media influencers on-board a campaign bus to challenge the lack of size representation in the female fashion industry.
The open topped Routemaster bus, wrapped in imagery of a voluptuous model in lingerie, was packed with campaigners wearing t-shirts proclaiming their bodies don’t restrict them when it comes to being who they want to be, as the protesters chanted ‘we have more to say than any dress size could.’
With mantels such as ‘Artist’, ‘Entrepreneur’, ‘Activist’ and ‘Dancer’, emblazoned across their chests, the troop of activists marshalled the bus outside the main London Fashion Week venue and around central London landmarks championing all women with empowering placards, megaphones and feel-good music.
Staged by online fashion retailer, Simply Be, the protest encouraged everyone to celebrate all body shapes and sizes, enjoy fashion and express themselves. At the same time it asked why larger sized models are not sufficiently represented on the runways at fashion weeks across the globe.
The models, ranging from sizes eight to 24, held placards declaring ‘Fashion should empower us’, ‘Fashion shouldn’t shame us’, ‘Our beauty is immeasurable’ and ‘So much more than our measurements.’
The model squad, which also included body positivity activist Felicity Hayward (size 20), then manoeuvred the bus around central London landmarks to celebrate individuality and champion diverse, inclusive fashion.
With the average size of women in the UK now 16-18, Simply Be commissioned research and found that a staggering 89% didn’t feel their size was represented on runways, in advertising, and in fashion press.
Almost half went on to state that they felt women of their size were ignored by the brands when it came to fashion choices.
Ed Watson, Global Comms Director at N Brown Group plc, which owns Simply Be, said: “We love fashion month and anything that raises the profile of fashion. However, it would be great to see more diverse representation of body shape on the runways. We’ve seen more size diversity coming through at the New York shows, but there’s still a long way to go.
“Our open-top bus tour around London is a celebration of women and who they are, eliminating the idea that we are defined by our bodies. At Simply Be we believe that fashion shouldn’t shame us, it should empower all women.
“The line-up of incredible women we work with highlights that there are no boundaries when it comes to size, something that Simply Be has firmly embraced. This isn’t about thin shaming – we just think it’s time we saw more diversity in terms of size in advertising campaigns and on runways, because women are so much more than their measurements.
“We want all women to feel great in their own skin and have the confidence to express themselves through fashion.”
American research has shown that diversity sells. Over 2500 women with ages ranging from 14 – 65 and dress sizes from four to 22 found that women were 200 percent more likely to purchase a product when the models were their size, 175 percent more likely to purchase when the models were within their age range and 1.5 time more likely to purchase if the model was a similar ethnicity.
In May 2016, a French bill stating that fashion models need to provide a doctor’s certificate attesting to their overall physical health, confirming that they are not too skinny, came into effect. France followed similar legislation already passed in Spain, Italy and Israel.
The protest follows Simply Be’s ‘We’re All Angels’ lingerie presentation – the most size inclusive lingerie show of the AW18 season, featuring models from a size eight to 22 including supermodel and diversity campaigner Robyn Lawley (size 14). This event took place two days ahead of the annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show, one of the most anticipated events in the fashion calendar which famously only features models of a size eight or smaller.
Simply Be’s SS19 collection is available to shop at www.simplybe.com