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Scottish college champions catwalk diversity

June 7, 2011

Co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence Jo Swinson MP has praised the work of Edinburgh College of Art, today becoming Britain’s first fashion Centre for Diversity.

The announcement comes in this year’s Graduate Fashion Week (5-8th June) after Jo’s body confidence campaign partners, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, worked with the College’s course leader Mal Burkinshaw. The collaboration has resulted in fashion students training on real women of all shapes and ages as well as the traditional tailors dummies.

The project has taught students the importance of emotionally considerate design informed by knowledge of realistic body shapes, without compromising creativity.

Commenting, Jo Swinson said:

“Fashion designers typically learn their craft on super-skinny models and tiny mannequins, which just don’t reflect society’s diverse range of body shapes and sizes. The current lack of diversity on the catwalk places fashion off-limits to the majority of non-model-sized people and reinforces the damaging idea that only one body shape is acceptable.

“By encouraging young designers to connect fashion with the diverse body types of today’s men and women, and embracing reality in a world dominated by a very narrow idea of beauty, Edinburgh College of Art has made a huge step forward.”

Commenting, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk’s Caryn Franklin said:

“Working with real human beings rather than training on inanimate mannequins has made a big difference to the understanding of students at Edinburgh College of Art. The fashion industry must begin to understand the power of fashion imagery, and how ordinary women feel about the current narrow and unrealistic body ‘ideals’ permeating the learning process through to the catwalk.
“We live in a diverse world, and it’s time to join the dots between commercial thinking and emotional understanding. The fashion industry can send out a more conscious message, develop a more emotionally considerate practice in pursuit of a more lucrative business proposition. It all begins in education.”

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