While studying fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I was shocked to hear what professors were teaching. Body shaming, racism, and ableism were embedded into the curricula.
Professors would berate any students' effort to be more inclusive, going as far as to mark down the assignments that go against the grain of archaic fashion and beauty standards.
Drawings of models could not look like humans. Drawings would have to be stick thin, with no varying body shape or size. Professors would even refuse to teach how to render darker skin tones because the markers are "too tricky" for it to turn out well. Apparel classes were centered around size 4 to size 8.
Professors make instigative jokes suggesting that pretty is thin and thin is pretty. Any body shape that falls outside of that description is simply out of luck and is no longer pretty.
The most extreme experience I have had was a professor nonchalantly describing a model's features using a racial slur.
If this is how fashion students, the future of the fashion industry, are being trained in schooling, it is not surprising that the industry continues to perpetuate these harmful ideologies. By the time the average student is done studying, they have been worn down and accustomed to what has been taught to be the "industry standards and practices."
If fashion schools are not incorporating inclusivity into their curricula and embodying the opposite, how can we expect clothing brands to know how to be inclusive?
A lot of brands waver from being inclusive because it can be overwhelming for brands to start something that does not have an industrial framework to follow. Not only that, it is expensive and time-consuming to start in-house research. Inclusion has become a culturally and politically sensitive topic. Brands don’t want to get it wrong for fear of negative backlash, which can keep them from even trying!
This is why I started We The Future of Fashion. To make it easy for brands to be inclusive. We offer a 5-step program to make the process easy and digestible. We are also flexible in working with brands on creating a project that is tailored to each brand's specific needs.