Sunday, 9 June 2013

No longer a Project but a Brand called Grace - For Real Women (with real bodies)

As discussed in the previous blog after planning and research and pondering on aspects that I didn't like about the fashion industry during twenty years plus of working in it, my own business was to encompass all positive developments and changes in clothing design and manufacture.

Body Image

Caryn Franklin was one of the many people to inspire me. Franklin, along with Debra Bourne and Erin O'Connor formed 'All Walks Beyond The Catwalk' which launched at London Fashion Week in 2009. Their voluntary campaigning questions the press and fashion industry about the use of models who promote the idea that people should conform to unrealistic body ideals. They campaign for the use of a diverse range of body shapes and models of different ages.Their work now includes parliamentarian campaigns and initiatives to promote diversity and individuality. They are also involved in educating young designers to design and fit garments on a range of body sizes, not just on the smallest sizes or the dreaded size zero.

It's Personal

Their work makes so much sense to me as I clearly remember standing in my own college's design studio when I was a 17 year old fashion student and being passed over as a suitable candidate for fellow students to fit onto, as my healthy size 12 frame was considered too big. I can clearly pinpoint this as the moment my own body hang ups began. From this little put down came a lifetime of small weight battles and inevitable weight gain. I know that I am not alone with the constant internal struggle to accept myself as I am. I have heard plenty of slim, attractive women complain about different aspects of their bodies. I was, however stunned to read that Cindy Crawford who is famous for being one of the original super models is hoping to be able to accept her own body by the time she is fifty. Wow, what hope for the rest of us?! We are bombarded with images of extremely slim models, actresses, celebrities and presenters. We are so used to seeing super slim women in the press, that we don't even notice that this is not the norm for most women. Instead, we think that our own bodies are too big whatever our size. How often do we hear women describing certain foods as naughty?

We often see curvier role models in the limelight but what happens to them? The press and other celebrities highlight and sneer at their healthy curves and all too often these ladies are pressured into losing weight. I could name names here but that would be joining in with an unpleasant attitude. I try and teach my children not to make any comments about  anyone's body whatever their shape. Of course a woman's size is her personal choice and good health should be a serious consideration but I can't think of more than a couple of positive female role models who are more than a size 10.

The Future for Body Image

Thanks to the work which Caryn Franklin and the All Walks team continue to do, we are beginning to see some shift in attitude. Their message has influenced brands as diverse as Lanvin and M & S.

Grace designs for real women and we fit and represent real women. When we searched for a curvy model to represent the Grace brand, we were shocked to see model agencies placing size 12 girls in the plus size bracket. Many agencies don't have models bigger than a size 10. Size 10 is three sizes below the national average, size 16.  We have no prejudice against women who are very slim and healthy. We're also not too keen on plus ranges where curvier ladies are given polite 'big' labels and branding. How does that make a curvy lady feel? Well it says you're big so you're excluded from the mainstream but here's some XXL for you. There are so many perceptions which really should change in our opinion. Let's give women their self-esteem back by representing them with models in real shapes and sizes! Grace  design and fit size 6-8 up to 22-24.

The next blog talks about our first shoot, our lovely real women and the talented professionals we worked with.

Note about sizes. The sizes I discuss here are from the British sizing system. For example a UK 12 is a US 10.

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