Changing the Faces of the Fashion Industry

Before the 1960’s models, fashion icons, and celebrities were curvy and closer to the size of average women of their time (Rehabs.com). After supermodel, Twiggy’s influence on the fashion industry in the 60s, thin was in. Models aimed for more of an androgynous, lanky, and tall appearance. During the 70s, a fashion show may contain one black model compared to the sea of white models (Rehabs.com). Today, for some lines, the lack of diversity hasn’t progressed much. Many never imagined they’d see the day where a person with down syndrome could be signed to a modeling agency and walk the runways of New York Fashion Week, but in 2015 that happened. The fashion industry is slowly but surely making strides in the acceptance of not-so-typical models on the runways, covers of magazines, and advertisements, but to what degree, with what reasoning, and how is this inclusion making people feel?

Plus size models are making more appearances in magazines, runways, clothing sites, catalogs, and social media platforms than ever before. They are embracing their sizes and curves and standing up and speaking out against body shaming. Ashley Graham, who wears a size 16 was the first plus size model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She has been promoting the acceptance of plus size models since she first started modeling at age 12 (Daily Mail).

 

IMG_5807.PNG
Courtesy of Ashley Graham’s Instagram

 

“Plus size models relate to and reach a large target market,” Louisiana State University Textiles and Merchandising Professor, Deborah Welker said. “The average woman’s garment is a size 14, which is a large population in America. It is all about the bottom line: companies will make more money reaching this segment.”

Clothing brands such as Forever 21, American Eagle, and Lane Bryant have added plus size collections to their stores. New Orleans plus size model, Emily Sharpe says these brands and others are trying to appeal to everyday women. Today, curvy girls are glorified. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Amber Rose have millions of followers on their Instagram accounts admiring and praising them for their hourglass figures.

 

IMG_5803
Courtesy of Kim Kardashian’s Instagram

While the majority of runways consist of models below the average women’s size, plus size models are making themselves both a topic of discussion and a commodity for fashion brands everywhere to consider.

 

Natural hair models after their increased on the runways of New York Fashion Week 2016. Within the last few years, African-American women have been letting go of hair straightening chemicals. While the fashion industry for the most part had embraced the “Natural Hair Movement” as well, certain brands were slow to catch on, such as Victoria’s Secret. Maria Borges was the first model with natural hair to walk the runway in the Victoria Secret Fashion Show in 2015.

 

IMG_5804
Courtesy of Maria Borge’s Instagram

The appearance of a natural model in the Victoria Secret Fashion Show was “inspirational,” said LSU student Joselyn Knowling.

 

“Now that I’m embracing the natural look (because I didn’t at first) I think it gives people that are natural [the idea that] ‘okay, my hair is amazing, it’s good enough to be shown on fashion runways, Vogue magazines and what not.’”

Seeing more natural hair models in the fashion industry because it gives her the feeling that society is becoming more accepting of women with natural hair, Knowling said. Professor Welker said that in using Borges in their show, she predicts that it was partly in response to giving their African-American consumers models that can relate more to them.

 

With fashion being a representation of the times, it should come as no surprise that models with natural hair are making more appearances. More African-American celebrities such as Solange, Zendaya, and Janelle Monae are also wearing their hair naturally on red carpet appearances, magazine covers, and live performances.

 

image1(2)
Courtesy of Solange’s Instagram

 

“Mentally challenged people need more figures to look up to in the fashion industry,” LSU student Nicole Torres said. “It’ll give them more confidence and remind them that they can do anything they set their mind to.”

While natural hair models are becoming more mainstream, mentally and physically disabled models are barely making their way into the industry. For the second time, New York Fashion Week welcomed model Madeline Stuart to walk their runways. Stuart who has Down Syndrome walked for the first time in 2015 and again in 2016. Also this year, Beyoncé made model Jillian Mercado, born with muscular dystrophy the face of her “Formation” lyric themed online clothing collection. Torres, older sister to her autistic brother Sean, is elated that disabled models are starting to be included in the fashion industry. She said she has learned so much from having Sean as a brother. Not only has he taught her patience, but he has taught her to see the good in everything and be more like him by filtering out the negative.  

 

IMG_5805
Courtesy of Nicole Torres

 

Founder and CEO of Fashion Week Lake Charles, Julie Branden said it took too long for NYFW to include models with disabilities.

“We talk about diversity, but there is still lack of diversity in the fashion industry,” Branden said.

Diversity throughout the fashion industry is appreciated by many and some feel that the progression of the inclusion of diverse models is happening too slow. By including models of different ethnicities, abilities, shades, and sizes the designers and fashion organizations get the chance to appeal to a broader audience and encourage different types of people to get involved in the industry. With the small amount of diversity shown in the fashion industry and the modeling industry, young girls and aspiring models won’t have many figures to idolize. When more designers decide to take the step and choose the bigger models, the girls with kinky hair, or the woman with muscular dystrophy over the traditional stick-thin Twiggys—it will be then that significant progress will be made.

Summer Sixteen Tour Announcement

Early Monday morning, Canadian rapper Drake announced his joint tour with rapper Future in advance of his upcoming album Views From the Six. He announced the tour schedule through his social media pages accompanied by tour flyers.

The tour will begin July 20 in Austin, TX and will end on September 17 in Vancouver, Canada. Tickets for the Summer Sixteen Tour can be purchased through Ticketmaster starting Thursday, April 28.

“I’m excited for the tour and I can’t wait until it comes here to New Orleans,”Drake and Future fan, Barry Kinsey said. “I hope its the livest thing I’ve ever been to.”

Along with Drake and Future, artists Roy Woods, DVSN, and other special guests will make stage appearances during the tour.

Drake and Future fans are nothing short of excited for the pair’s next collaboration.

LSU student Josh Thornton said, “I can’t wait for this tour, from videos and performances I’ve seen of Drake he looks like a great performer.”

The Summer Sixteen Tour is not Drake and Future’s first collaboration. In 2013 Drake went on a North American tour titled, “Would You Like a Tour?” that featured Future.

The two also joined forces for their surprise September 2015 mixtape, What a Time to Be Alive. According to Billboard, the mixtape had the third largest week for an album in 2015 by units sold.

Movie Podcaster, Chad Metz said, “I’m not a huge fan of Drake but from his recent hits, I’m sure he’ll put on a good show.”

In addition to revealing his joint tour dates, Drake revealed his album cover which featured him sitting atop the famous Toronto landmark, the CN Tower. The Toronto native showed gratitude to the city that raised him in the following twitter post.

Views From the Six will be available exclusively on Apple Music Friday, April 29.

Urban Outfitter’s Spring Collection Review

Pastels, floral prints, neutrals, and lace garments filled the brightly lit and spacious Urban Outfitters like a bed of freshly blossomed flowers in a garden. The clothing store located at Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge, revealed their Spring collection this March and delivered a delightfully pleasant collection of garments. With materials ranging from cotton and linen to denim and lace, the Urban Outfitter’s Spring collection contained a vide variety of styles. The style of the clothes appeared to vary by decade.

FullSizeRender-1

“I’m really loving the different combinations of decades of fashion that are in…like the floral and bohemian style with a mix of ‘90s denim,” customer Jennifer Veazie said.

Each garment looked as if it belonged to either the ‘70s, ‘80s, or ‘90s. However, from first glance the store had an overarching Woodstock feel. The first floor of the store had a large dress and romper section with dresses ranging from short to long, printed to plain, and short-sleeve to spaghetti strap.

FullSizeRender-2

All of the dresses seemed to remain similar in that they all appeared to be very airy and light weight, preparing their customers for the warmer weather.

Sales Associate, Kim Lam described the Spring collection as almost Easter themed, but without being, “tacky.” She said, “Its very light, nude, and natural.” Lam said all of the items are comfortable and can be worn with nearly anything. Along with the store’s variety of clothing, the store also had a large selection of undergarments.

IMG_7936

The neutral and pastel theme carried into the undergarment section where majority of the bras and underwear were lightly colored and made of a lace or mesh material. They had a 5 for $25 deal in which the customer can choose five of any underwear from their selection and get them all for $25 (plus tax). There were also booties, sandals, “Mary Jane” shoes, and wedges scattered throughout the store which were often paired with outfits for the floor display.

FullSizeRender-8

The women’s section wasn’t the only part of the store that customers seemed to enjoy. The men’s section had many fans as well.

Customer Barry Kinsey said, “Urban Outfitter’s Spring collection is really nice and they have a really nice selection with bright colors and dark colors ­­­­­­­­­­­­—either way you’re set.”

The men’s section, much smaller than the women’s section, had a bit of a darker theme. Some of the items were acid washed, contained holes, and looked more grunge. The shirts were longer than normal waste length and came in cooler tones.

FullSizeRender-7 2

However, they also had beach shorts, sunglasses, hats, and Hawaiian themed shirts to match the Spring theme. The men’s section had a large variety of T-shirts that came in many colors, each for $20. They also had humorous and patterned socks with a 3 for $20 deal.

FullSizeRender-6

FullSizeRender-5

Urban Outfitter’s Spring Collection was any and everything I could’ve asked for out of a clothing store while the seasons are changing. The light and pastel theme throughout the store was welcoming and helped create a peaceful and fun environment to shop in. The themes of the clothes all meshed to create one beautiful display.

 

 

Fashion Magazine Diversity

Fashion magazines feed their consumers with edited, enhanced, cropped, and fixed images of the women that are “in” every month. But what do those “in” women look like? Who are the writers behind these articles? Do the writers who write about the “in” women look like the “in” women they speak of? These are the questions I asked myself while flipping through the March issues of Marie Claire and InStyle Magazine. Both magazines, covered with the face of a white celebrity, were included in the All You Can Read “Top 10 Fashion Magazines” list. Being of the the top ten most popular fashion magazines, these magazines attract the most readers. But can readers of all races and ethnicities identify with the models, editors, and writers displayed in the magazines? No.

I went through both magazines and counted the amount of times models appeared to be black, white, Asian, Latina/Hispanic, or of another race. The results were nothing short of disturbing. In the Marie Claire March issue containing 314 pages, of the 168 models I counted, white models appeared the most by a landslide. White models appeared 136 times, while black models were the closest runner up at 13 appearances. 

magmcmod

 InStyle had 490 pages and I counted 266 models. InStyle contained mostly white models at an amount of 216, with the runner up of appearances being black models at an amount of 25. 

magismod

The diversity among the writers and editors appeared to be worse than the diversity of the models. Marie Claire had a majority of white editors and writers, at a total of 29, in their March issue with only one black, Asian, and Latina/Hispanic.

magmcedi

The results for InStyle writers and editors were worse than Marie Claire. With a clear majority of white writers and editors at a total of 9, I only discovered one Asian writer/editor and zero black, Latina/Hispanic, or others.

magisedi
The data reveals the lack of diversity throughout not only fashion magazines but the fashion industry as a whole. With white writers writing about white models, there is  close to no representation of other races and ethnicities in the fashion industry. This can result in a lack of diverse applicants for fashion models, stylists, writers, and other positions in the fashion industry.

“It’s depressing how much of a gap there is between white and black models and then an even bigger gap between other races,” Bethany Frink, 19, said. “It shows a lot about our society and culture.”

It is also discouraging for multicultural readers when they have close to no one in their favorite magazines to identify with.

“I look through those magazines all the time and have never really thought about it,” Jennifer Veazie, 21, said. “Seeing the numbers all compared to each other shows the extreme lack of diversity.”

The primary audience for fashion magazines are teens and young women. With young girls and teenagers reading fashion magazines to see who and what is “in,” fashion magazines should consider giving girls of all races and ethnicities someone to admire and identify with.

“America is a melting pot and really the world is and it’s time that the fashion industry realizes that and puts more people of all colors into magazines and shows,” Raegan Taylor, 18, said. 

Representation in the media is crucial. Without magazines and other sources of media representing all races and ethnicities accurately, young ethnic girls and women will continue to aspire to be someone and something they are not.

 

The Designer with a Purpose

Every designer has a vision, but not every designer has a meaningful purpose. Samjah Iman Saulsberry, 34, created her clothing brand Chokolat Creme along side her business partner April Alexander in February 2013. Saulsberry grew up in the small city of Monroe, Louisiana where she met her soon to be business partner Alexander. From a young age, Saulsberry was involved in multiple activities: fashion shows, dance, pageants, sports clubs, debutante balls, etc. Her parents, both hard workers, made sure they exposed her to anything she sought interest in while growing up.

As a child, Saulsberry was involved in her neighborhood rap/dance group they called “Flava.” Saulsberry’s nickname was Chokolat and Alexander’s nickname was Creme. Years later, the two combined their childhood group names to create the name of their clothing brand.

Saulsberry said, “We took that name and brought it together to cover all women of the [color] spectrum – from the chocolate ones to the cream ones.”

When Saulsberry and her partner launched their clothing line, they were focused on making a profit. They sold items they weren’t particularly passionate about but knew were popular within the fashion industry. That didn’t last for long. Saulsberry and her partner spent some time away from designing. When they came back they had new ideas, motivations, and were ready to make a change. They no longer wanted to focus on making a profit, but making a difference. They wanted to create commanding garments that reflected them and what they stood for and valued. The two started by creating T-shirts with powerful images and messages that resonated with them.

Saulsberry photographed in one of her designs. Photo from: @Chokolatcreme Instagram Account

“No matter where Chokolat Creme leads us, we are already successful and accomplished because we are no longer bounded by earnings,” Saulsberry said. “We are creating what we want and being authentically us.”

Saulsberry wasn’t always a designer. While in school at Howard University, Saulsberry worked in public relations and interned at a radio station and modeling agency where she was able to assist at concerts, photo shoots, and runway shows. After college, Saulsberry left Washington D.C. and moved to Baton Rouge, LA to be close to home. In Baton Rouge she worked multiple jobs including public relations, event planning, involvement with television shows and magazines, and then began working for the state where she currently works along with managing Chokolat Creme.

Saulsberry said, “Now as a woman my confidence is at a healthy level and I’m not afraid to fail…all because my parents allowed me to be me, make mistakes, and figure it out myself.”

Saulsberry has bigger goals for Chokolat Creme than to be just a clothing brand. She wants to influence young women to be authentic and remain true to themselves.  She wants the women who wear her clothes to be leaders. Saulsberry said the media often feeds young girls’ heads with images of how women are supposed to look and be and it can be discouraging and restricting for them.

Saulsberry said, “It’s important to me to continue to lift young girls up and reveal that power in them that some of them have yet to discover and to help them know their worth.”

Chokolat Creme’s primary audience is college girls ages 18-22. Saulsberry said their goal is to have their shirts sold in bookstores on college campuses and trendy boutiques with one-of-a-kind clothing. She described her brand as female empowerment, ambition, and awareness personified through the art of fashion. She wants to not only be a woman who is able to have an impact on young girls, but wants to surround herself with women who also aim to succeed and strive to make a difference.

Elle Marie, former co-worker and friend said, “[Saulsberry’s] character exemplifies passion and persistence to not only her business but to empowering women vocally and creatively.”

Along with managing her clothing brand, Saulsberry also has a fashion blog where she often posts photos of her outfits and gives details about them. Although a busy woman, Saulsberry said she’s quite the introvert. She prefers solitude and being behind the scenes. February 26 and 27, she was able to remain behind the scenes with a few stage appearances. Chokolat Creme made it’s One of a Kind Baton Rouge Fashion Week debut in the BARE and Big Night show.

56d326b2f2587.image
Photo by: Javier Fernandez 

Bethany Frink, OBRFW audience member said, “After I started to analyze [the designs] I appreciated the fact that I’d never seen something like the sweatpants she had, which is hard in the fashion world because basically everything is out there.”

Most of Saulsberry’s work was done back stage fitting models, creating looks, and making last-minute revisions. At the end of the last show, not only was she pleased with the results, but the audience was filled with intrigued faces and flashing phone cameras.

“‘Wear what you’re feeling’ is the message and evolution that lies behind the Chokolat Creme brand,” Saulsberry said. “We got a lot of exposure [through OBRFW] and networked with a lot of interesting people who were intrigued by our brand.”

 

 

Super Sale: Super Success

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and the second day of Time Warp’s and Kerry Beary’s Atomic Pop Shop’s joint Spring Fling Super Sale. Saturday was the only day of Time Warp’s sidewalk sales where they had select items marked down up to 75 percent. Customers of all ages, genders, and ethnicities browsed the vintage garments and accessories hoping for a bargain deal.The sale began Friday, February 19 and ended Sunday, February 21. With the help of social media, word-of-mouth, and loyal customers, the sale had a great turn out, Sales Associate, Erin Arledge said.

FullSizeRender-1.jpg

“I found out about the event through Facebook,” LSU student, Tia Banerjee said, “I clicked on it because two of my friends said they were ‘+Going’ on the event page and I really like their style.”

Time Warp and Atomic Pop Shop created a Facebook event page that released all of the markdowns they would be offering throughout the days of their sale. Many of the associates who worked at Time Warp and Atomic Pop Shop invited their friends through the Facebook event page. From there, more and more people found out about the event. Time Warp also has nearly 5000 followers on Instagram, who received updates about the sale from Time Warp’s posts.

“My favorite part of Time Warp’s sale is the home goods,” LSU student, Kimberly Braud said.

Time Warp (divided in sections by decade and style) contained discounts on cut off jean shorts, boots, accessories, formal dresses from the eighties, leather vests and jackets, and multicultural-themed home goods. Some of the deals included 50 percent off all handbags and purses, $3 accessories, two for $20 eye wear, and 25 percent off jean shorts.

FullSizeRender-5.jpg

There was a variety of brands of used purses and handbags including brands such as Dooney and Bourke and Michael Kors.Time Warp carried multiple styles of boots ranging from western cowboy themed to black leather biker boots.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Time Warp wasn’t the only place offering variety. The Atomic Pop Shop, a vintage music and merchandise store/ art gallery joined Time Warp in their Spring Fling Super Sale. The small shop, decorated in multi colored vinyls and vintage decor carried vinyls and cassette tapes of all genres. FullSizeRender-4.jpg

They had vinyls as low as one dollar and had mark downs on select vinyls up to 70 percent off.

FullSizeRender-3.jpg

On normal days, they offer layaway services and have music performances nearly every weekend. Sales Associate, Bruce Williams said they definitely saw more traffic in customers over the weekend and they are happy with their results.

Arledge said Time Warp’s most popular items were separates: tops, pants, shorts, and skirts. Their biggest goal with the sale was to make room in their store for their new inventory. Arledge said they have a lot of new vintage items, and specifically vintage sundresses. She also mentioned every Wednesday Time Warp has a student discount provided for students who show their student ID at check out. They also offer a Greek discount every day to women and men in fraternities and sororities, with proof of membership.

Arledge called the super sale, “a super success.”

You can find live coverage of the sale here.

Spring Fling Super Sale

Time Warp: Vintage Clothing and Accessories Boutique and Kerry Beary’s Atomic Pop Shop announced a joint “Spring Fling Super Sale” to be held February 19 through the 21.

The boutiques, both located on Government Street, are selling all vintage clothing, accessories, and records with markdowns beginning at 15 percent up to 75 percent.

Saturday, February 20, Time Warp is having a sidewalk clearance sale of select vintage garments, shoes, bags, and accessories. The select items will be 75 to 95 percent off, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. only.

Kerry Beary’s Atomic Pop Shop announced Friday morning they will be having 10 percent to 40 percent markdowns on vinyl, audio, vinyl care, storage, preservation products, art, buttons, patches, prints, and cards.

More deals will be announced on the Facebook event page. Time Warp Boutique is located at 3001 Government Street and Kerry Beary’s Atomic Pop Shop is located at 2963 Government Street.