All Walks Beyond the Catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week
All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, the award winning fashion initiative co-founded by Caryn Franklin, Debra Bourne and Erin O’Connor, promoting designer fashion on a wider range of body shapes, ages and skin tones met with a nationwide consortium of UK educationalists to brainstorm how future generations of fashion designers and image makers can approach inclusivity and individuality within the curriculum.
“The purpose behind All Walks Beyond the Catwalk is to acknowledge the positive power that the fashion industry can have, when communicating to women about their bodies,” states Founder Caryn Franklin.
This first All Walks Future Forum launched at Graduate Fashion Week. Professor Wendy Dagworthy Head of School of Fashion and Textiles, Royal College of Art, agrees that educationalists can make an important contribution “Designers can lead the way in challenging cultural definitions of what is beautiful. College or university can be the first opportunity for a student to process their ideas and challenge the status quo.”
Currently, all student fashion designers work with size 8/10 mannequins, which is the standard professional practice for practical reasons. This might contribute to a limited understanding of the body and the way it is shaped. Founder Erin O’Connor comments “As a model of many years standing; the time is now, for up and coming designers to have an opportunity, integral to their development, to work with beautiful, diverse women.”
Following talks – the creation of a new Centre of Excellence for Design and Diversity where interest and focused design studies can take place is planned. London Proportion, leading tailor and mannequin manufacturer, has donated the first set of tailor dummies, sizes 10 to 16 towards this purpose in support of the college who take this up. Currently most colleges do not have a range of shapes to work on. “We believe that giving the next generation of designers access to a range of body sizes we will encourage more debate and understanding” comments Founder Debra Bourne, and continues “Unlike bigger names designers, young designers do not have the financial luxury to produce both a catwalk collection and a selling collection. Their catwalk collection must sell off the shop floor. Working on realistic body shapes makes good commercial sense too.”
All Walks Beyond the Catwalk launched during London Fashion Week last September as a ground breaking initiative involving 8 cutting edge British designers who were invited to show ready to wear garments on a range of models sizes 10-16. All Walks is part of the steering committee for the Campaign for Body Confidence.