• Carla Vreeland

The future of LGBTQ+ representation in the fashion industry

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

It is well known that, throughout history, the concept of beauty is an ever-changing trend. Businesses and franchises capitalize on these trends with the goal of making a profit. Up until recently, many of those companies have been apathetic towards growing concerns about the harm that they may be inflicting.

From the time that we are young children, most people have a grasp of what society wants them to look and act like. They are taught to cover up and be insecure of what others deem as flaws, physical or otherwise. Not only does this create a more divided and judgemental society, but it also creates a world in which people are ashamed of themselves and go to great lengths to change or conceal their true selves. These practices have created a culture in which we celebrate the bare minimum, equality, and people are forced to “come out” when they want to be open about who they love or don’t love.

While the strict beauty standards enforced by businesses and advertisements have been diminishing within the last few years, there is still much more that has to be done. The queer designer Jonny Cota expresses the inclusive ways in which he develops and advertises his collection and his vision of the future fashion industry:

“I want to see gay pride-inspired products being released year around rather than only during Pride Month,” said Cota. “I believe that a fundamental aspect of ‘queer power’ is body positivity and appreciating all bodies… I want to see diversity in fashion becoming normalized rather than strategic branding.”

Designer Jonny Cota at his house in Los Angeles

The importance of representation is often something that is underappreciated in fashion, beauty, and the media.

Laura Thomas, the Director of the Center of School Renewal, explains why representation is so essential to the younger generations.

“Our children’s early experiences — including the hours spent consuming media — shape what they imagine to be possible for people to look like them, live where they live, or come from where they came from. Simply put, kids determine what they can be based on examples around them,” said Thomas.

Despite the positive change within the last few years, much of the fashion industry continues to lack representation for the LGBTQ+ community and those of all different body types.

“I would like to see fashion brands and retailers update their archaic way of looking at sizing and genderizing and create gender-fluid shopping experiences so the shopper can choose what fits them both physically and identity-wise,” says Nik Kacey, a designer and activist.

Designer and activist Nik Kacey

By expanding upon the notion of what is often viewed as beautiful and creating a more positive and inclusive beauty and fashion market, we will move closer to a society that embraces our differences and is fully represented in the media.

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