Why Representation Matters in Fashion Featured

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Everyone, regardless of gender, disability or sexual orientation, has inevitably experienced that frustrating moment (or hour, or week perhaps) when you just *can’t bloody find anything to wear*, and it’s awful. My personal wardrobe battles stem from summertime, when my incredibly pale, sensitive skin means I need to find a cool way to cover up else I’ll sizzle until my skin resembles an embarrassed lobster. But I can’t imagine having that sinking, horrible feeling every day, because of a religious affiliation, an extreme insecurity, or a battle with your gender identification.

Hence, then, the need for representation in fashion; the need for beautiful clothes with a special edge that have the ability to make women, men and genderqueer individuals feel happy and comfortable in the fashion that they love. As the artistic director of the Monokini 2.0, a bikini/swimwear company designed for women who have gone through breast cancer, puts it: "Monokini 2.0 is a social art project that re-examines popular culture’s narrow view of a woman’s ideal appearance". Fashion is about more than just pretty clothes for rail-thin models, it’s about all of us: fat, thin, religious, disabled - everyone.

  On that note, here are some amazing fashion products that aim to truly represent real women and provide everyone with beautiful wardrobe choices. Firstly, as I have mentioned, the Monokini 2.0, a swimwear collection designed for breast cancer survivors who have undergone a single or double mastectomy (removal of the breasts). The creator explains: "The fact is that many women who have had one breast removed due to breast cancer don’t wish to have breast reconstruction surgery, they wish to continue their lives with one or no breasts at all". (Nutty Tarts). These swimming costumes allow breast cancer survivors to expose their scars in an empowering way and embrace their incredible bodies, all whilst looking awesome on the beach.

Another awesome collection that’s recently been announced is DKNY’s Ramadan collection; a series of modest and demure outfits that provide a modern and beautiful take on the covered style that many Muslims choose to adopt during the holy time of fasting. During this time, Muslims do not just abstain from food during sunlight hours, but also from smoking, sex and other activities deemed sinful such as swearing, therefore it’s important for many women to completely cover the arms and legs. This collection is styled by two Muslim designers (Yada Golsharifi and Tamara Al Gabbani) and proves that you can still dress in the stylish way that you feel represents your personality whilst still maintaining the codes that your religion requires.

 Lastly, though it’s not a fashion collection but a series of adverts, representative of the transgender community, that has become a lot more prolific in recent months. Barney’s New York has recently published an advert campaign supporting transgender and LGBTQ* individuals in order to raise awareness of their stories and encourage people to embrace their true identity, as they will finally have role models to aspire to that truly represent them. Barney’s Creative Director says: "Their courage, admirable sense of self, and determination to help others who have shared their experiences have made them incredible role models—not only for the many young people in the trans community, but for us all". This goes to show that in the fashion world, having models and collections that link to your own identity can not only make you feel good about yourself, but can also make you feel validated as a person; if all you see is skinny women wearing the clothes you would love to wear, you may not feel like you are allowed to wear them if you don’t fit that supposed ideal, whereas if a transgender individual sees a transgender model looking amazing in what they’re wearing, they may feel much more empowered about their own fashion choices.

Although all incredibly different campaigns, these three examples of fashion collections do not only help to eliminate the horrible feeling of not having anything to wear, but also make people feel much more comfortable in the knowledge that they are not alone in their identity, and that fashion is much more than what’s going down the runway: it’s about the clothes you wear that suit your needs and personality and that make you feel comfortable in your everyday life.

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http://monokini2.com/ - (Monokini website)

http://www.dkny.com/dknyramadan/ - (DKNY’s Ramadan collection)

http://thewindow.barneys.com/brothers-sisters-sons-daughters/ - (Barney’s transgender advert campaign)

*LGBTQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer

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