Fashion brands are changing the world for the better, and it goes beyond boosting our collective style and confidence. Simply by being more inclusive, these companies are setting positive trends for others to follow across every facet of society.
But how can a brand in the fashion world focus on inclusivity in such a competitive space? The nature of the beast is one of exclusivity and one-upmanship, after all.
Thankfully, more companies are getting the memo and taking action.
Here are 10 tips from leaders in the industry on how to promote an equal and inclusive environment for the future of fashion.1. Balance Quality with Affordability
By finding the sweet spot of quality clothing at reasonable cost, the next gen of fashion curators is making sure there’s something for everyone in each collection.
“We all know the feeling of being priced out and unable to participate in a fashion trend because of the cost. We’re making a statement and setting an example that everyone can participate. Looking beyond the brand names and focusing on quality is the new trend.” – Ryan Craver, Founder and CEO of Mallary By Matthew2. Feature All Types of Influencers
History has shown fashion models and influencers to be rather formulaic in terms of their appearance. We’re happy to say that the tides are turning to a more inclusive direction.
“You want your clothes to be showcased effectively and worn well, but that doesn’t mean you need a super-skinny woman or mega-muscular man as a model in every shot. In fact, today’s shoppers expect to see people who are more realistic in how they look. That’s a good sign for where the industry is going.” – David Wolfe, Founder and CEO of Oliver’s Apparel3. Make Conscientious Partnerships
It’s not just about the faces you feature on your site – it’s who your brand associates with on a network level, and how this sets an example for the industry at large.
“We have a sort of obligation as creators to be smart about things like supply chains and the economic ripple effects that result from our decisions. Even the small choices have a bigger impact than we think, oftentimes. Consider the full implications of your partnerships in business and how this affects the perception of your brand.” – Designer and Founder Daniel Patrick4. Get the Audience Involved
Even smaller brands have large audiences that they can call upon to participate. Encouraging user-created content and other forms of collaboration can be a key to inclusive action.
“Feature reviews from real people or allow them to broadcast their stories on social media to showcase the impact of your brand. It’s not only a great way to make your brand more inclusive, but it’s a powerful marketing engine as well. When the audience is involved, the positive momentum you gain as a brand is incredible.” – Yuvi Alpert, Founder and CEO of Noémie5. Focus on Brand Communities
The top brands in the world are more than just clothing. They help people form identities and connections on a deeper level. In this sense, inclusivity is simply a positive after-effect of a compelling brand.
“This is the real hidden power of fashion that we want to emphasize. It allows people to grow into who they want to be and strive for a better future. Something simple like jewelry connects people who would otherwise not be aware of each other’s existence. Community should really be the goal of any new fashion brand starting out right now, because that’s the real test of greatness.” – Jordan Duran, Founder and Designer at 6 Ice6. Think Beyond Surface Level
Before you start any sort of initiative for diversity and inclusion, think about what it really means. Make sure you’re not just ticking boxes for the sake of appearances.
“Diversity isn’t just a question of gender and ethnicity. It’s a question of experience. It brings new ideas to the table. And it would be good if the fashion industry actually listened and took them on board.” – Artist and Designer Virgil Abloh7. Using Platforms to the Fullest
Every fashion designer has a social or political issue that is close to the heart. While politics should never be the center of a fashion brand, these platforms can be effective in promoting the ideas of inclusivity and other important causes.
“You don’t need to make some long-winded political manifesto that will divide people or drive a wedge in your audience. That’s not the point of inclusivity at all! If you do choose to make a statement, make sure it’s measured and meaningful. It’s not wise to go over the top and potentially alienate people who would otherwise be happy customers.” – Dylan Trussell, Co-Founder of Culprit Underwear8. Clothes Are Just the Beginning
The actual garments we wear each day are just a part of the fashion equation. More brands are looking for ways to add a dash of style and personality to everything we own and enjoy.
“There’s always some way to amplify your personal style or dial in the aesthetics you prefer. That’s the beauty of personalization and why we’ve had success with our brand. People love to make things their own, and promoting that sort of expression is inclusive in its very nature. Everyone has a chance to show off some style.” – James Ville, Chief Product Officer at GunSkins9. Expand Hiring Practices
Any brand can claim that they promote inclusivity, but talk is meaningless unless you follow through with real policies. It starts with hiring, and that’s where progress happens the fastest.
“Make your fashion brand more inclusive by doing your research on cultural intelligence and celebrating your differences. It will benefit your company to include members of the culture or group that you wish to include in the decision-making process. This means if you want to incorporate indigenous women, black women, or trans women then give them a seat at the table. Let them chime in on their viewpoint. This will help make all your research meaningful and impactful. It will help you celebrate people’s different realities in your fashion brand.” – Sabrina Pereira, Head of Growth Marketing at EasyStandard10. Always More Work to Be Done
When is the mission of inclusivity over? Never! It’s fun to celebrate progress, but let’s not get lazy in our efforts. Fashion influencers and creators must always look for the next initiative that will make a difference.
“Despite the progress made, there’s still work to do for fashion to be more inclusive and accessible (i.e. more sizing in mainstream brands!) – not just in campaigns or product offering, but behind the scenes, too. Whether we like it or not, luxury sets the tone for much of the mainstream industry to follow. And while I don’t need fashion to validate me, I still want to see more people reflected.” – Influencer and Writer Nicolette Mason
Admittedly, the fashion industry doesn’t have the most inclusive track record, but this is the generation that turns that trend around. The future of fashion is inclusive, diverse, and more exciting than ever before, thanks to these brands leading the charge.