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Model diversity is a hot topic in the fashion industry these days, with models’ size, race and gender identity coming under fire for lacking in variety and inspiring unrealistic ideals.
Though there have been steps in the right direction in high fashion — with Barneys’ spring 2014 transgender campaign, the hiring of transgender models including Lea T and Andreja Pejic on the runways, and greater racial diversity in beauty campaigns — the move toward wider acceptance is finally trickling down to more accessible fashion brands.
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S.F.-based e-tailer Modcloth, which specializes in retro-cool fashions and accessories that have been seen on the likes of Taylor Swift and Zooey Deschanel, has recently hired their first transgender model, Rye Silverman, as part of their #FashionTruth campaign. In addition to emphasizing diversity of models, the campaign pledges to market unretouched images, sell extended sizes and “honor the customers as a community.”
Launched in September 2014, the message was Modcloth founder Susan Koger‘s response to “aspirational” imagery and discriminatory fashion culture. “I look out, and [the industry] seems less about helping people find fashion they love to wear, and more about convincing them that they need to conform to one eerily consistent standard of beauty,” Koger wrote in an open letter. “A standard built on highly altered and often unrealistic images. There’s a rising outcry online, in blogs and in social media, of people questioning the status-quo and begging for a change.”
Silverman, a 33-year-old writer and comedian who had been featured on Modcloth’s Style Gallery community blog prior to landing the modeling gig, has openly discussed her experiences as a trans person with Modcloth, and now even has a dress named after her — a plaid red halter dress called the “All About Rye” ($100).
In addition to Modcloth’s #FashionTruth campaign, other retailers including Lane Bryant, with their all-inclusive #ImNoAngel commercial for their new Cacique line, as well as American Eagle’s unretouched #aerieReal ad for their lingerie line, seem to be slowly but surely changing the norms.
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