New York Fashion Week isn’t for everyone. Traditional runway shows simply don’t include bodies that look like the average person’s — or clothes that fit them. Fortunately, there are brands trying to change the narrative surrounding what fashion week should look like. Take the DSW x Create & Cultivate Runway Redone event. Together, the brands worked to cast women from all different backgrounds to walk in the show. They also brought on model Hunter McGrady to host the whole event.
McGrady first gained notoriety after becoming the first size 16 model to grace the pages of Sport’s Illustrated’s famous swimsuit edition in 2017. Since then, she’s become an icon in the body positivity community and a loud, bold voice advocating for more size inclusivity in everything from clothing to runways. For McGrady, the DSW x Create & Cultivate event felt like a perfect fit.
“When I learned that DSW’s Runway Redone was about embracing individuality and celebrating inclusivity, I immediately felt that it was an authentic fit to what I have always believed in,” McGrady tells Refinery29. “This runway show calls for women everywhere to stand for the change that the fashion industry needs to see.”
A runway show highlighting size-inclusive boots isn’t your typical NYFW show, but it’s a good reminder that diversity of size is still not prioritized at Fashion Week. September 2019 was NYFW's most inclusive season yet, but progress is still slow. Only 12 runway shows featured plus size models and less than 45% of the models who walked in shows were models of colour (in 2018, that number was roughly 10% less). It's exactly why events like Runway Redone are so refreshing — they send the message that style is universal, and not only reserved for those who are thin, white, and beautiful according to society’s narrow standards.
“When women see other everyday women participate in a NYFW event, it proves that fashion is for everyone, not just limited to a specific group of people,” McGrady tells me. “Diversity on the runway means all walks of life, not just plus-size models...that, to me, is fashion.”
While it may take decades for NYFW as a whole to achieve the type of diversity that Runway Redone showcased on September 4, McGrady thinks that evolution is possible.
“I do think inclusive fashion shows like Runway Redone will evolve traditional spaces like NYFW, and DSW took the next step with an open casting call,” McGrady says. “While I’m always excited to guess who will diversify the runway next, I can’t wait for the day when all retailers and brands use the runway as an accurate representation of women everywhere.”