On day four of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, a landmark runway took place. Curve Edit — the first ever size inclusive runway — saw multiple brands showcase their designs on a range of plus-size models.
Hosted by Bella Management, a modelling agent who prides itself on signing diverse models, the show featured six different designers — 17 Sundays, Saint Somebody, Embody Women, Vagary, Harlow and Zaliea Designs.
Each brand was marked by a change in music and in tone. From long, flowing, maximalist dresses to a swimwear collection and evening-wear, the runway took us from day to night and season-to-season with seamless transitions. Models enjoyed themselves, smiling and waving to the crowd while encouraging people to show their support with claps and cheers. There was a palpable shift in tone compared to the other shows we’ve seen, but is it enough to change the landscape permanently? That remains to be seen.
Below, marie claire Australia speaks to Robyn about her hopes for the landmark show and her dreams for size inclusivity not only in Australia, but around the world.
You’re headlining Australian Fashion week’s first ever plus size runway. What does this moment mean to you?
It’s such a huge, overwhelming moment for me. I have to pinch myself a bit because [we’ve been working toward inclusivity for] so long. As a teenager at 14 I would starve myself. When people say that models don’t starve themselves and that’s their natural shape it’s such bullshit. I have a daughter myself, so I can see why it is distressing.
Fashion is so big in our world, so it’s important to have representation for different sized bodies, because it instills the idea in young teenage girls that in order to be fashionable or to wear their fashion, they have to be a size 0.
It’s taken 26 years to include a plus size runway in the Australian Fashion Week schedule. What do you feel is still missing from the line-up?
It’s pretty awesome. It’s great that designers are opening up the casting to plus sized models now. In the past, [plus-sized models] weren’t even allowed in the room, but now they’re starting to open their doors and allow those girls in. Things are so different now, but there’s still a long way to go. We’ve just got to keep pushing for more diversity. There are still a lot of designers that stop their sizing at a size 14. The average dress size in Australia is 12-16, so while designers are starting to extend their lines, we need to get to the point where catering to a size 18 and 20 is the norm.
What do you want people to talk more about when it comes to body inclusivity in the fashion industry?
Women want to see different ethnicities, different sizes and different ages represented. Really, women just need to see themselves represented. And we’ve got to encourage it. We’ve got to promote it. We’ve got to be excited about catwalks like the curve show at AAFW, because we just need to see ourselves represented and it’s this time and we are finally seeing ourselves and it’s such a beautiful thing.
There’s been a recent discussion around the retitling of ‘body positivity’ to ‘body neutrality.’ How do you think the term ‘body neutrality’ better captures the movement?
I think we just get wrapped up in these words too much. There’s so many different terms lately, but I think body positivity is about liberation and letting go of that feeling of hate on your body and to start loving the body. I know it’s cliche to say love your body, but your body is your best friend, you know, and you’ve got to treat it as a best friend. I think seeing women positive about their bodies encourages other women to feel positive about their bodies.
Which Australian designers do you feel are on the mark when it comes to celebrating the female body and extended sizing?
I usually get more designer dresses from Australia because they fit my sizing. There’s a bunch of Designers in the Curve show who have been doing it from the start. There’s 17 Sundays, and Zaliea Designs, which is evening wear, which I’m really excited to wear. When I was starting our we barely had like we had a couple of designers that offered extended sizing and a lot of it was mainly catalog, there was no cool stuff. It’s so exciting to see this new era of designers including everyone in the conversation.