diversity now! vote for the best fashion student entries of 2017

Fashion students across the UK have shown i-D and All Walks their talent. Now YOU must vote for the Diversity NOW! People’s Choice award winner.

by i-D Staff
26 May 2017, 1:46pm

hollie mccarten-donnelly, 2016 people's choice winner

For the past five years, i-D have teamed up with All Walks -- an award-winning charity campaigning for the celebration of diverse body and beauty ideals in fashion -- in order to present the best student work entered into their annual competition Diversity NOW!. The competition asks fashion students to present their vision of a future where diverse representation is the norm, and people of all shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, genders and abilities are celebrated in a high fashion context. It's up to you, i-D's discerning readers, to select the coveted People's Choice award, through a public vote hosted below.

This year over 40 colleges have taken part in the project, mostly from across the UK, where modules on diversity have been embedded into fashion curriculums in partnership with All Walks, but also from engaged students around the world, excited to be part of a more inclusive and future-focused vision of their industry. Each student uploaded their project to creative portfolio website Arts Thread, with the finalists being selected by a panel of industry experts.

"Celebrating a singular beauty and body ideal in 2017 is outdated," says All Walks co-founder and creative director Debra Bourne MBE. "We ask students to put difference at the heart of the creative process," she says of the competition, noting that "The results form a rich tapestry, exploring real issues from body diversity and appearance anxieties to cultural identity."

"This year, the rise in populist politics has made us all aware of increased marginalisation and stereotyping," Debra continues, concluding that "It's brilliant to see fashion students use their visionary power to act as a cultural counterpoint, by highlighting the importance of diversity." As All Walks say, "Fashion is boring when everybody looks the same"!

Check out all 12 finalists' work, below, and choose your winner by using the voting widget. Voting closes at midday on Friday 1 June.


Charlotte Manners, Ravensbourne
"A short film that challenges stereotyping by giving an insight into the reality of three diverse individuals' lives."

Mupela Mumba, Ravensbourne
"I AM REAL is a fashion short inspired by the female body. As women, we tend to spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to other women, instead of accepting the perfect imperfections that make us unique. I AM REAL is a fashion short about a female who is coming into her own. Accepting that she is different whilst beginning to own her body."

Garment Design

Damini DeshwalPearl Academy of New Delhi
"I read a question on Quora, a boy asking the world if it would be okay for him to wear a saree. Afraid if the world would judge him, he continued describing his 'imperfect' features: dark skin, spots on face, skinny silhouette, creating a not so 'masculine' body. The simple question gave birth to this project's idea of making garments that would celebrate a man's body the way it is, a human's body the way it is, the acceptance of the inner soul that does not have a gender at all, the curiosities that have no border... To achieve this colour palette, the silk fabric is woven from two types of threads, sourced from Varanasi itself, woven in Varanasi, pleated over the linen layers which is the collected industrial waste."

Maame AppiahUniversity for the Creative Arts Rochester
"In the creative industries, we are moving towards a better future, with an increase in diverse models and bodies, but it's not enough. There is still a bias towards the light skinned caucasian features and slim bodies. What about individuality, different silhouettes, what about deep dark shades of nude, not just in lingerie and make-up but in high fashion. My outfit is about self love, loving the body and its surface. I created a 'nude' outfit for dark skinned women, as skin bleaching is becoming more popular it is important to show darker beauties not just on the catwalk but within the media. The silhouette is based on a female body with an elongated top half of the body with shorter legs and bigger hips."

Jhestrey FamilaraTeeside University
"I have created a garment that symbolises equality. It is designed to be worn by anyone. I approached the issues by researching perceptions of discrimination and explored fashion concepts that had the potential to express inclusivity and individuality. My response is a non-gendered garment that can be worn as a creative expression of the individual. The sleeve I designed with gaps supported by a strap and a round metal bar. Creating this space on the sleeve will show individual skin tones expressing diversity and the sense of the individual... To highlight the concept models that encompassed diversity were selected for the photoshoot. This diverse mix of people embraced the sense of the individual and their strength that had become the focus of the design process. Each model has a different colour of paint on their faces which corresponds to the colour of their national flags."

Photography and Styling

Raul Castilla, Istituto Marangoni
"Coming from a 'macho' society where men in general fit into one defined stereotype, in London I have seen there are no rules or set standards in expressing yourself according to gender. I am a true believer that in order to be diverse we must explore all sides of the spectrum. Therefore I decided to express and celebrate all aspects of masculinity; from aggressive to fragile and the in-betweens."

Josephine Partridge, Leeds College of Art
"As women, we obsess over our hair, our 'crown of glory', our 'symbol of femininity'. We will change it to suit our mood and our identity, embodying the flux of our lives. Isn't it ironic that we will spend infinite money to glorify the hair on our heads, yet accept further expenditure to remove it nearly everywhere else? The media is flooded with images of hairless women, maintaining the accepted 'norm' of beauty, where hair removal companies profit from inducing our self doubt. 'Hair Care' poses a concept in which all body hair is glorified, perceived not in disgust but as art. Within this look, mundane objects sourced from the salon are recontextualised into fashion. The silhouette was inspired by the loose, organic waves hair naturally forms. Fabric is cut away in panelling detail, while the armpit remains exposed, here a device to empower and de-stigmatise the model's flourishing hair."

Max Saward, Ravensbourne
The concept for this story came from the recent election of President Donald Trump and the uncertain future he is creating for America's youth. My focus was on the queer and multi-racial minorities who are becoming increasingly marginalised, in an attempt to capture their bravery and strength as they fight for freedom dressed in the colours of their flag."


Izy Kali, University of Brighton
"This Illustration is of the kind of inclusiveness I would like to see in the fashion world for people of colour and people that look 'different'. Where are all the heavily tattooed and pierced girls? Where are all the girls with funky hair colours, black girls with natural hairstyles, shaved heads and so on? I think the fashion world should be representative most importantly and it should also reflect that there is no one way to be a beautiful woman."

Brian Mc Lysaght, Edinburgh College of Art
"A conversation I had with my friend Holly inspired this project. We discussed the lack of representation of women of colour in fashion imagery. I began to think about the body as a site of exploitation; models' bodies used as objects, non-model bodies rejected and hidden. Focusing on those underrepresented in fashion, Holly became the fulcrum of the project. We wanted to exalt Black women instead of continuing the pattern of diminishing and tokenising them. I designed based around Holly's identity, collaborating by constant dialogue during the process."


Elle Robinson, Northumbria University
"The working class is castigated with names from rude boys and chavs, to lager louts and hoodies, yet the fashion industry continues to rip off their style for profit. It's time to give credit where credit is due. Recognised in one form or another since the 1980s, the working class have been influencing the very sector of society that so openly disdains them.

Certain aspects of communities have been latched onto by the fashion industry creating a blurred line between appreciation and blind appropriation of culture. I believe that the prejudices within the fashion industry have become unequal in themselves with class inequality too often overlooked. The fashion industry has a pivotal role to play in eradicating class inequality, blending boundaries as opposed to creating them and actively becoming part of the solution." Read the full article on Arts Thread.

Graphic Design

Nathalie Clarkson, Ravensbourne
"This graphic poster was created in response to a quote I had read in The Times from model Chanel Iman. She stated how she had been rejected from shows just because of the colour of her skin. The poster aims to thought-provoke people, showing that race issues are still a problem in the fashion industry, even today. I wanted to emphasise that just casting one ethnic model in a fashion show or campaign is not just a way just to tick a box of ethnic diversity, but they should be respected and admired for their beauty and culture."


body image
fashion news
Istituto Marangoni
Edinburgh College of Art
diversity now
all walks
leeds college of art
pearl academy of new delhi
northumbria univesity
teeside university
university for the creative arts rochester
university of brighton