Temple University students discuss fashion diversity and representation

Several student fashion organizations center themselves around size and racial diversity.


In fashion, it’s easy to get swept up in bright colors and bold accessories. But when it comes to size and gender standards for runway models and clothing advertisements, some Temple University students said they noticed the fashion world can appear limiting.

In an article by The Fashion Spot, the site evaluated demographics of 192 Fall 2018 fashion print ads. Out of the 530 models who starred in campaigns, 34.5 percent were non-white, an increase from 15.3 percent in fall 2015. But representation of plus-sized models hit a record low in 2018 with 1.3 percent represented.

For Teresa Montoni, the founder and president of FETCH, the first fashion-focused student organization in the Klein College of Media and Communication, fashion needs to be redefined to be truly inclusive. First, people must remove society’s labels on how a person can express themself.

“The fashion industry has been notorious for putting labels on gender and putting labels on gendered fashion,” Montoni said.

“[True] Fashion doesn’t have a label and it doesn’t have a size,” she added. “Fashion doesn’t fit into a box.”

Montoni does not want the industry’s standards to affect a person’s fashion choice, she added.

“People wear all different types of styles in fashion,” Montoni said. “[Gender] shouldn’t have a label on the type of fashion that you see yourself as. I think that’s something that people think too much into as something that needs a type of restriction.”

Montoni became aware of the lack of inclusivity in the fashion industry at a young age when she discovered that she had to shop at stores catered to plus-sized women and girls. She does not have a problem with this, because as long as her body-type is shown and respected, she is included in the fashion world.

Taylor Zubkousky, the vice president of the Fashion and Business Club in the Fox School of Business said she noticed the fashion industry expanding their standards of beauty this year. 

“Everyone wants to see themselves represented and if you don’t see someone that looks like you on a product then you might not be as attracted to it,” Zubkousky said.

She applauded fashion lines like Tommy Hilfiger’s “Tommy Adaptive” for marketing accessible clothing for people with disabilities. 

“That is something that was really awesome that’s going to continue to be something of conversation with other brands,” Zubkousky said.

Spring 2019 runway shows proved to be the most racially diverse in fashion history. A total of 36.1 percent of models on the runway were models of color. This was spanned over 229 fashion shows and 7,431 model castings in New York, Paris, Milan and London, according to The Fashion Spot.

“It’s gotten better, but it’s still not where it needs to be,” Garcia said. “If you look at the top paid models, rarely is there a person of color. I just don’t see that many, and when I do see people of color, it is mostly light-skinned people, not dark-skinned.”

Currently, the FETCH team is working to create a representative magazine by including ethnic styles, hair and backgrounds, attempting to embed more international cultures into its work. FETCH plans to bring light to those who are viewed as “out of the norm,” Montoni said.

“Temple has a huge diverse campus,” Montoni said. “It would be a sin not to even explore that. That’s the way that we’re going into diversity is looking at those other fashion statements from other parts of the world, like Vogue India, Vogue Paris. There’s a lot more in fashion than U.S. fashion.”

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