A fashion designer has taken aim at her ‘sizeist’ industry, slamming body-shaming practices and events which publicly promote inclusivity while ‘cancelling anyone over a size ten behind closed doors’.
Leina Broughton, lead designer and co-founder of Leina and Fleur, told FEMAIL she no longer attends the Melbourne Fashion Festival or Sydney’s Fashion Week because she’s sick of the lack of ‘normal women’ on display.
‘The women at these events do not represent Australian women. I love fashion but if I were to attend these events I would be going against everything I stand for,’ she said.
‘The biggest woman on the catwalk was a healthy 10,’ the 44-year-old designer claimed.
But a spokesperson from the PayPal Melbourne Festival said there was at least one size 12 woman on the runway in every show.
Leina Broughton, left, with Fleur Richardson, her business partner, wants fashion events to be inclusive
She is boycotting the events until brands make more efforts to cater for average sized women which is 12-14 in Australia – her models in a shoot are pictured
‘We believe all designers in main runway shows go to at least to a size 12,’ they said.
In a lengthy statement which has been posted in full below the spokesperson said the organisers ‘recognise the significant role the fashion industry plays in shaping the cultural ideals of society.’
The designer, who has been in the industry for 25 years says her brand made the shift to include women up to size 24 in 2014, when data revealed the tall size 8 archetype was out of touch with reality.
‘The average Australian woman is a size 12 to 14, so why aren’t we seeing her at the shows, in the pictures or on the catwalk,’ she asked.
‘I understand it takes time to train models and brands want the most experienced women at these events but the lack of diversity is disgusting.’
Ms Broughton said she became furious last year after learning size 12 models were invited to a major fashion event before being told they had to ‘sit in the crowd’.
‘What message does that send to Australian women, that only women up to size ten can be on display, it is segregation,’ she said.
This comes at a time when eating disorders have skyrocketed – according to Swinburne University there’s been a 60 per cent spike in reports of restricted eating in women and girls over two years.
‘This messaging is adding to that. It’s not just teenagers with these disorders, it’s young mums and business women, people who think they aren’t meeting society’s beauty standards because of their size.’
She has been left further disillusioned by the industry she loves after realising many brands and influencers are against change.
‘There are people out there who will admit they don’t want to have their lines go up to a size 14 or 16 because they don’t want those women wearing them,’ she said.
‘I’ve heard so many stories from women who have the income and desire to purchase from fashion brands, but the thought of going into a store where all that is on offer for their size is a scarf or accessory is embarrassing and belittling.’
‘When I fight for this I am told I care because I am a plus-size designer. I am not. I am a designer who makes her line to fit real women, to fit her customers.’
The range is suited for women from size 8-24.
The designer would also like to see a more diverse age-range across brands
‘We follow the bell curve model in production, we make the most size 12 and 14 pieces and then slowly drop the numbers following that curve.
‘This means only 3 per cent of the clothes made in each style are an 8 and a 24, while 30percent could be in the common sizes.’
According to the designer only 5percent of labels at this year’s Melbourne event cater for women above size 16.
The festival spokesperson said ‘almost all’ designers offer up to a 14 before naming a list of 14 designers who offer sizes up to 16 and three who offer to size 18.
‘The timing of Melbourne Fashion festival falling across International Women’s Day and yet once again highlighting the inequality of luxury and how high end is showcased is so disappointing,’ she said.
‘The timing of Melbourne Fashion festival falling across International Women’s Day and yet once again highlighting the inequality of luxury and how high end is showcased is so disappointing,’ she said
Before adding that she understands change takes time and she doesn’t expect designers to change their lines overnight.
‘I would love for them to join the conversation, to make a commitment to expand their range to include a minimum size 18 by 2025.’
‘Mature, veteran, and curve models walked in Pierpaolo Piccioli’s latest show, surely if Valentino can aim to bring inclusivity to couture, other brands can too.’
Leina says there is some technical skill to making larger clothes but it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to develop a more diverse line.
She also commended Ginger and Smart, Rachel Gilbert and Amber Days for catering for more women with their lines.
Leina believes women of all shapes and sizes deserve to be able to wear designer labels and feel confident walking into a store without being told they are too big
The designer pulled her clothes from boutiques in 2014 after they consistently refused to order anything over a size 14.
Since then she has been selling online only.
‘I didn’t want to be directing my customers somewhere only for them to not be able to get the dress they wanted in the right size, that doesn’t reflect my brand,’ she said.
‘The industry needs to look at their bottom line, who is their customer, these women are spending thousands of dollars on clothes, might have 50 dresses at home yet they aren’t represented.
Full statement from Melbourne Fashion Festival:
The PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival recognises the significant role the fashion industry plays in shaping the cultural ideals of society.
The Festival showcases a diverse range of healthy models through the fashion and event programs from diverse cultural nationalities, ages and body types.
The Festival sets strong guidelines when casting models, reinforcing the current professional practice of Australian modelling agencies.
The program is created through curation, application and invitation. All brands are welcome to apply to participate including the option to stage their own events and runways.
The Festival welcomes brands and organisers that bring diverse perspectives and represent diverse customer bases, and the selection process prioritises activities that speak to inclusion be it in the realm of social change, gender, sustainability, First Nations, size inclusivity or other areas that the current program highlights and celebrates.
What the festival does to make it inclusive and accessible
In 2022, a multitude of industry practitioners’ work in the program represents inclusion and positive change activism through the powerful medium of fashion.
There has been immense progress in size inclusivity across the many facets of the fashion industry in the past decade, and the Festival has been proactive in that evolution. As a consumer-facing fashion event, it has been an organic evolution in the casting practice that size inclusivity is delivered upon as a customer expectation, in balance with industry machinations that have also had to evolve to facilitate the production realities that go alongside such changes.
An important component of stepping toward size diversity is working with designers, stylists and producers on the logistics of the garments available for the runway. Addressing sample sizes and the logistics of accessing garments in different sizes from designers, has been a significant backend barrier to more progressive size inclusivity.
Because the Festival showcases collections as they launch in-store, these barriers are less present in Festival runway operations than other trade events as it can draw on retail stock to more readily dress talent of non-sample size.
Alongside the Festival’s ongoing progress across the fashion inclusivity spectrum, the Festival has also crafted and invested in statement-making moments to push its values to the fore. International supermodel, Ashley Graham was the Face of the Festival in 2019, and in 2020 Celeste Barber walked the runway. The feedback from audiences to both of these moments was overwhelming. Both Graham and Barber also presented at the Australian Fashion Summit and further boosted the momentum for size inclusivity.
There is an immense amount of progress still to be made which the industry ecosystem is working towards in meaningful ways. As a casting entity, the Festival looks forward to the day when size inclusive talent are readily available through the top agencies, at the same fee structure as other talent.
Representation at this year’s event
The 2022 program spans 10 style-packed days of free and ticketed events that are glamorous, thought-provoking, accessible, fun, and most importantly are for everyone to enjoy.
Of the five runways at ACMI, over six models’ size 12 or above have been cast, with between one and four walking in each show.
Almost all designers showcasing on the program offer up to a size 14 and a large number offer sizes above a 14, these include (but are not limited to):
· Aje -size 16
· Alice McCall – size 16
· Rachel Gilbert – size 18
· Arnsdorf -size 14 and offer made to order with measurements for any size
· Bianca Spender – size 18
· Manning Cartell – size 16
· MASTANI – size16 and offer made to order with measurements for any size
· ACLER – size 16
· Bec + Bridge – size 18
· Joslin – size 16
· We Are Kindred – size 16
· STRATEAS CARLUCCI – size 14 and offer made to order with measurements for any size
· OROTON – size 16
· Anna Quan – size 16
‘Imagine heading to a department store with a group of friends only for one of them to be told they have to go to a different level to be served,’ she said
She would like representation to change on the catwalk, in advertising and in store.
‘Imagine heading to a department store with a group of friends only for one of them to be told they have to go to a different level to be served.
‘So while you look in women’s fashion they are sent down stairs to the back corner where plus-sized clothes are kept.
‘It shouldn’t be like that, we need to make a change.’
Leina owns her business alongside Fleur Richardson who has a background working with high profile fashion brands such as Dom Bagnato and Sacha Drake.
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