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Fashion has always been a powerful form of expression.
This year, the fashion world saw designers from Ashley Graham to Zendaya make strong statements about the need for changes in the fashion industry. Many of these designers made conscious efforts to include more women of color in their shows, to create a variety of clothing sizes and to empower women to be unique.
Here are five fashion designers – some mainstream, some not – that ENTITY celebrates for going against the grain!
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It has been a groundbreaking year for plus-size model and body positive champion Ashley Graham, who became the first size-16 woman to land the cover of “Sports Illustrated.”
Graham has been credited for reshaping the fashion industry in 2016. Aside from using her platform to inspire young girls to accept their bodies, she also designed an inclusive lingerie line for New York Fashion Week this year.
Her collection with Canadian retailer Addition Elle features lacy lingerie that celebrates the beauty of plus-size. When showcasing the new line, Graham shared the runway with other plus-size models, including Precious Lee, Jordyn Woods and Sabina Jackson.
Similar to Graham, Zendaya used her platform this year to speak out against the thin fashion industry trend. Her new line, “Daya by Zendaya” aims to be inclusive of genders, body types and budgets. The collection comes in a wide range of sizes – size 0 to 22 – and also celebrates androgyny by creating pieces that can be worn by any gender.
“I think the coolest thing is there are a lot of sets that can be mixed and matched with anything,” Zendaya told ABC in an interview. Some might view this as Zendaya’s line being “all things, to all people” but you cannot fault her for giving it a shot! We will be watching closely to see if she can pull it off.
Becca McCharen is the founder of Chromat, the swim and athletic wear designed for strong women. Each of McCharen’s collections explore the intersection of fashion, technology and architecture. But aside from looking edgy and fashionable, Chromat also focuses on empowering women of all shapes and sizes.
This year, during New York Fashion Week, McCharen made a bold statement by pulling off a beautiful show featuring diverse women. The models she put on the runway were either plus-sized, transgender or women of color. According to McCharen, diversity in fashion is a choice. “You can’t just sit back and then – poof – your runway is diverse. It’s a deliberate act,” the designer told Elle. “[Fashion] is about creating space for confidence within yourself.”
Similar to McCharen, Cassey Ho designs athletic wear that is dedicated to empowering women of all sizes. Ho started on YouTube as Blogilates, where she would post free work out videos for the online community. Her following has since grown to over 1 million on both YouTube and Instagram. Now, her POPFLEX Active line has three different collections, offered in a wide range of sizes.
And while customers praise the luxuriousness of the design and the quality of the fabric, Ho’s main goal is to promote body positivity and self-acceptance. “You should only compare yourself with who you were yesterday and try to be stronger than that,” she said in an interview with Health. “If you are trying to be someone else, you have already lost yourself.
This year, award-winning artist Rihanna debuted her Fenty x Puma collection. Fans and critics praised her for adding her grunge, chic and goth persona to clothing. “I love how she can take something very quotidian, urban and street and make it elevated and feel elegant,” designer Jeremy Scott said to Vogue. “Or, she can take something very elegant and give it a touch of rebellious swagger. She can kind of take on different kinds of looks and still have her DNA.”
In addition to that, Rihanna broke boundaries by dethroning the former King of Shoes, Kanye West. Not only did her designs help Puma’s business, they also put women on the map for shoewear.