Diversity NOW! Why Fashion needs to ‘Mix it Up’ – a lecture by Caryn Franklin

Image courtesy: Chris Floyd

This lecture asks future creatives to consider the impact of their work on the self-esteem of today’s audience. With its subtext around unachievable body-ideals and over sexualised femininity, could fashion deliver a more emotionally enlightened message? Caryn Franklin is the former Fashion Editor and co-editor of i-D Magazine and has explored the politics of image and self-esteem extensively over her 30 years of working in fashion, in commercial and educational positions.

Fashion is an amazing medium and vehicle for creatives who currently work within a dynamic that appropriates inherent desire to dress up and celebrate who we are, selling it back to us on a seasonal basis with unspoken rules. Before we become fashion practitioners we are consumers, absorbing aspirational ideals about the body that normalises the unachievable, and is facilitated by the proliferation of digital fashion messaging. Has this warped our view before we start? How do we access our own voice and instinctive artistic source? As conscious fashion practitioners, at the beginning of our practice, what should we be thinking about?

  • Do we think the current proliferation of fashion imagery in service to unachievable body ideals is in any way to the detriment of the self-esteem of contemporary men and women?
  • Have we been exposed to a destabilising influence without realising?
  • If we name it does it effect how we approach our practice?
  • Beyond the Catwalk means looking at the END USER to improve our business offer. She is not an immovable bust stand or a professional model. She has body image anxieties too!
  • Could we also look at the power of fashion to communicate and broadcast a range of body and beauty ideals and influence self-esteem in a positive way?
  • Should fashion creatives be accountable for the messaging we create and promote?
  • What constitutes objectification?
  • What have some of the All Walks Beyond, the Catwalk initiatives (which promote an aspirational and realistic range of bodies) achieved so far?
  • Why Dr. Ben Barry’s research is crucial.

Check out the All walks website for information on the work being done and their morals and ethos. [titled_box title=”About Caryn Franklin” variation=”purple”]Caryn Franklin is a British fashion expert and was former Fashion Editor and Co-Editor of i-D Magazine in the ’80s and has been a fashion commentator for over 30 years. She has explored the politics of image and self-esteem extensively working in fashion, commercial and educational positions. Her projects have involved refugees in battle zones, workers in free-trade-zone slums, mental health experts, MP’s and Government Ministers, as well as important fashion industry innovators. As a fashion activist, Caryn has co-chaired Fashion Targets Breast Cancer since the 1994 and co–founded the award–winning All Walks Beyond the Catwalk in 2009 challenging fashion industry dependence on unachievable body ideals, by promoting diversity and inclusivity. Franklin has an Honorary Doctorate from Kingston University and is an Honorary Fellow at the Arts University College Bournemouth as well as being a Visiting Fellow and Ambassador of the Centre of Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion. In 2013 she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year Honours for services to diversity in the fashion industry[/titled_box]