Size inclusivity in Australian fashion is closer than it's ever been. With more brands expanding their size ranges and a host of curvier models achieving mainstream success, it's impossible to ignore the changes we're seeing. But the thing with representation is that it can easily edge towards tokenism — and we end up feeling grateful for mere crumbs of diversity lightly peppered through runways, ad pages and campaigns.
In conversations around size, we tend to focus on plus-size accessibility, which makes sense given that it's a community that has been widely shunned from the fashion world. However it's one thing to be more inclusive for those that have been excluded from mainstream fashion, and quite another to cater to the majority of the people, that just so happen to fall into the 'mid-size' category.
Generally considered to fall within sizes between 10-16, the topic of 'mid-size' body ranges has been all over TikTok lately, with 2.4 billion views. Many users are calling out brands for catering poorly for these markets and never actually bothering to represent them with mid-sized women modelling the very clothes they're trying to sell.
But it seems that the call for representation isn't just falling into an echo chamber of TikTokers. After just day one of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, a change felt unmistakable, with a slew of shows boasting a wider range of bodies than we've ever seen. From Gary Bigeni and Bondi Born to Bianca Spender and Romance Was Born, the casting of models was far more considered and thoughtful. Not only are designers putting more average-sized bodies front and centre, but they're also empowering a range of shapes, sizes and ages to really see themselves and have fun with fashion.
The inclusion of models that aren't the fashion standard of AU/UK 6 and below feels like an achievement — and however small it might be, it is the result of a movement actually being heard.
Of course, brands have always been fuelled by the revenue that mid-sized people contribute to their bottom line, but it's high time that the fashion industry creates a standard of representation that goes beyond tokenism and actually celebrates the people keeping the fashion industry alive.