Plus-size and transgender models on the runway has so far been limited to a model or two per show. That’s not to denigrate those models and designers who promote body positivity; rather, it only confirms that, despite the progress made, there’s still room for improvement.
At swim and activewear brand Chromat, the clothes tell a story as much as the models who wear them. Take the opening look at the New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018 runway on Friday night: a blue-black cropped bathing suit top replete with trendy underboob, a Lara Croft Tomb Raider-esque harness, and G-string. It would have been show-defining on its own, but designer Becca McCharen-Tran didn’t cast a straight-size cisgender (i.e., non-transsexual) woman, as is the norm in fashion, to open her show. She cast transgender model and activist Leyna Bloom.
Plus-size models may be underrepresented relative to the plus-size market, but so too are trans models. Last season, trans models represented 0.17 percent of all model castings, with only 12 appearances, according to the Fashion Spot’s runway-diversity report, making transgender people the least-represented group in fashion.
Also making an appearance on the Chromat runway: Jordyn Woods, a Wilhelmina-signed plus-size model popping up all over New York Fashion Week, first made famous for being Kylie Jenner’s best friend (the audience burst into applause when she appeared); older models, thicker and thinner; and racially representative women with natural hair and natural bodies.
As for the clothes: There were metallic and denim, structural bodices (which were of no surprise, considering McCharen-Tran’s architecture and design background), and reworked corsets suspiciously similar to Instagram-beloved Orseund Iris corsets. Oh, and there were anti-chafe thigh bands, both on the runway and included in guests’ gift bags.
And so by the show’s end, Chromat inspired cheers and applause and praise from an exuberant audience; if only it could inspire that within fashion, with a capital F.
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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.