Neelam Gill at Ashish

Neelam walking for Ashish

Dare we say it? Is fashion week finally representing the woman on the street, in all our curvy, curly, caramel skin-toned glory? For too long, designers have presented their new-season collections on sample-size, Caucasian models who don’t necessarily look like the ‘average’ woman, but SS17 might just be the season to change that.

From plus-size figures and different abilities to a rainbow cast of models from all over the world, we’re shouting out the designers who are doing diversity the right way this season. 

Ashish SS17
We predicted it! Indian-born Ashish Gupta sent a culturally diverse cast of black, Asian and Caucasian models down his SS17 catwalk, including British-Indian model Neelam Gill who opened the show. The show was Bollywood in its truest form, all sequins (classic Ashish) and bright colours in a loose interpretation of traditional Indian dress. Everything from the tikkas and henna-decorated feet to the flyaway hairs and long, thick plaits was a love letter to Indian beauty, with some models made up based on the Hindu goddess Kali. Oh, and the collection was gender fluid. We are so here for this.

Ashish LFW SS17

Anniesa Hasibuan SS17
Showing at NYFW, the Muslim designer became the first ever to present a collection with all 48 looks featuring a hijab. Hasibuan, who was the first Indonesian to show at an official venue, received a standing ovation for her show, which was inspired by her hometown of Jakarta.

Read More: Why we’re always here for H&M campaigns and their amazing diversity

Christian Siriano SS17
Now THIS is how you do diversity. Christian Siriano sent curve models down the catwalk alongside his straight-size girls, including Georgia Pratt and Sabina Karlsson (you can read what she had to say about milk tasting better than skinny here). There were also models of diverse ethnicities, including his curve girls.

The best thing about Christian’s show? There was no fanfare, no body-positive statement on the show notes, just beautiful models in his new season designs, plain and simple. It says a lot when the sight of a woman above a size 6 strutting the catwalk prompts applause from the audience, doesn’t it?

Christian Siriano's diverse model casting for SS17

After dressing Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones earlier in the year (Leslie struggled to find a designer to dress her for the premiere of the film), Christian was praised for putting himself forward. Stunning dress, yes, but Christian’s response said it all: ‘It shouldn't be exceptional to work with brilliant people just because they're not sample size. Congrats aren't in order, a change is’.

Read More: Inbetweeners – why we need to talk about the models in between plus and straight size

J.Crew SS17
The word ‘real’ gets thrown around a lot when it comes to diversity in fashion, but J Crew’s cast of models truly was, well, real. Reaching out to non-model friends on the brand, J.Crew showed their new collection on men, women and teens aged 13 to 70. That’s diversity in age, ethnicity and even a maternity look for 7-month-pregnant fashion editor Jenny Kang. Yes, J.Crew! Of the casting, Jenna (speaking to The Cut) stated ‘There’s so much going on in fashion, and I think one of the things that’s getting lost is the connection to people. It was a way to talk to [our customers]’ It’s not about one individual person, I want everyone to feel beautiful, I want everyone to feel connected to the brand. They don’t all have to wear it the same way, I’m totally cool with that, and I love that. That’s what makes me want to make clothes, is making people feel beautiful, it doesn’t matter what they look like’.

J.Crew's diverse model casting for SS17

Jenny Kang at J.Crew SS17

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So, who’s next to up the diversity ante? With London arguably being fashion’s most multicultural hub, we’re keeping an eye on the likes of Ashish, Vivienne Westwood and Marques Almeida. Make sure you follow our Instagram (@instyleuk), Twitter (@instyle_UK) and like us on Facebook here for all the latest fashion week happenings.