i-D have teamed up with fashion diversity activists All Walks Beyond the Catwalk to discover the most exciting fashion students celebrating diversity and individuality in their work. The Diversity NOW! competition challenges students across the UK to present their vision of an inclusive fashion future, where personal identity and individual style are prized above dress size, or the number of candles on your last birthday cake.
Students from 37 UK fashion colleges and universities took part, responding to a brief set by All Walks', the industry-insider campaign to promote diversity in fashion that was launched in 2009 by erstwhile i-D fashion editor Caryn Franklin with British supermodel Erin O'Connor and fashion strategist Debra Bourne.
Students submitted their entries to Arts Thread, in a range of creative disciplines: photography and styling, fashion design, graphic design and illustration, and journalism. Exploding the industry's currently very narrow definition of beauty, their work represents and celebrates a much broader range of body shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, abilities and genders in a fashion context. These entries have been painstakingly whittled down by a judging panel of fashion industry experts to just 15 finalists.
Now, it's time to have your say. Check out all 15 finalists below, and vote for the Diversity NOW! People's Choice award winner by voting below.
Have your say on the future of fashion, and remember: fashion is boring when everybody looks the same!
Photography and Styling
Fran Scott BA (Hons) Fashion Promotion with Styling, University of Central Lancashire
"I have always been interested in why men are more restricted when it comes to clothing and accessories; lots of men are judged if they wear anything too 'feminine'. I also think it was important to show men over the age of 30, as you rarely see that in fashion magazines."
Bronwyn Stemp BA (Hons) Fashion Promotion, University for the Creative Arts
"I wanted to portray diversity in the mixture of reality and high fashion, and to celebrate dark skin. I also did not want to put them in the stereotypical clothing of colourful prints. There is fashion happening in other places than the main cities at fashion week, which we often forget and ignore."
Dara Udom BA (Hons) Fashion Styling, Instituto Marangoni
"That moment when you hear your favourite song and just let go. This moment of individuality is what inspired this editorial. We asked our models to pick their favourite song and quite literally dance like no ones watching. The power of music to, not only set us apart from one another, but also bring us together, is why we chose this theme. The editorial shows that diversity is what makes us all so interesting and it is something that should be embraced."
Alisa Milchevskaya BA (Hons) Fashion Promotion, Ravensbourne
"The project was inspired by nature: its vibrance signifies the necessity of ethnic diversity, an essential element which should be mirrored by the fashion and beauty industries' approach to their campaigns. The world isn't monochrome, see the whole picture and represent diversity in all it's colourful glory."
Isabelle Landicho BA (Hons) Fashion, Arts University Bournemouth
"Moving from the Philippines to the United Kingdom as a young girl, growing up I was always slightly self conscious of the fact that I looked different from other girls. I felt as if I was not as pretty as them due to my ethnicity. After adopting this mindset for so long, it was cathartic for me personally to cast an Asian model for the shoot. I feel that by using models from different nationalities conveys the message that beauty transcends race, it derives from a source more deep rooted than how you look or the colour of your skin."
Hangna Koh BA (Hons) Fashion Styling, Instituto Marangoni
"This editorial opens up the mind to see diversity in today's society through contrasting contemporary fashion and style to classical art."
Nina Cutler BA (Hons) Fashion, Edinburgh College of Art
"Gender and race are the most common boxes that one must tick and yet identities are neither static nor fixed, in fact are in constant flux. This collection explore influences from women depicted in pre raphealite painting juxtaposed with 90s male hip hop fashion. These two contrasting cultural symbols represents idealised forms of femininity and masculinity. It also utilises the method where marginalised groups (such as young black male) uses oversized clothing to exert control over spaces that are usually denied."
Alice Firman BA (Hons) Fashion, Edinburgh College of Art
"Celebrate yourself. Move your body. Touch your skin. Many people feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Society has created a series of stereotypical body types which are supposed to be better / more attractive than other. Everyone is different and unique in their own way, for both their appearance and personality."
Jade Spindler BA (Hons) Fashion and Textiles, Colchester
"Research shows that there are not many current sports luxe collections in high street stores for the target market of over 50s. Sharon (my model) is very interested in running and keeping fit, and this is where the initial inspiration came from for the collection"
Robin Gardiner BA (Hons) Fashion, Arts University Bournemouth
"Standing 6 feet tall and wearing size 18 garments, it's hard to find fashionable clothing for my size. When i was growing up my size and unconventional style seemed to hold me back from embracing opportunities that came my way, due to not feeling like I 'fitted in'. Looking back, i'm glad that I never really 'fitted in'. Being different should be celebrated. I strive to create garments to make all women feel empowered and unashamed to be themselves."
Nathalie Ballout BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles, London College of Fashion
"My muse John "the sculptor" Somerville is an exceptional candidate for diversity and an important figure to represent in fashion. Apart from his striking appearance he is someone that has integrity, and it shows in his work and in his daily struggle to make beautiful complex sculptures. Even though he is limited by left side paralysis and with only the use of one hand he continues to create, not for the public plaudits, but purely for the beauty of creation."
Graphics and Illustration
Emma Biwake BA (Hons) Fashion Product and Promotion, University of Sunderland
"I have used this competition as an opportunity to explore the appropriation of both Asian and Western cultures in the fashion industry and how they fuse together."
Amy Hewitt BA (Hons) Fashion, Liverpool John Moores
"Punchy, provocative commentary on diversity. Typographic with an accompanying image that works as a call for action for All Walks beyond the Catwalk. The content offers a unique take on transgender sexuality and has a striking, independent appearance."
Annie Wassif BA (Hons) Fashion Communication, Heriot Watt University
"Not many are aware of how the former British colonies are affected by the residual values. Countries such as Pakistan and India still look to the West to determine what is beautiful and, because the white female form is the most celebrated across the beauty industry, Asian Girls with fairer complexions are deemed more 'beautiful' than those with darker complexions." Read here.
Eilidh Nuala Duffy BA (Hons) Fashion, Central Saint Martins
"On the 17th of February, at New York City's Lightbox, business wear designer Carrie Hammer stirred up a media storm when she sent actress Jamie Brewer down the runway. Headlines heralded a new age in fashion: this virtually unknown designer was 'Changing the Catwalk'; beauty had been 'Redefined'. Why was this? Famous for her role on the TV programme American Horror Story, Brewer was the first even model with Down's Syndrome to grace New York Fashion Week. Read here.