Although New York Fashion Week has become noticeably more inclusive than it was five years ago, progress has been slow, particularly when it comes to body diversity. According to , which releases a report every season that surveys diversity in Fashion Week castings in the four major cities across a range of categories, only about 0.4 percent of the models to appear on the runway or at presentations were plus-size. That translates to a total of 30 non-straight-sized models appearing in New York and Paris; London and Milan, meanwhile, didn't have any. Those numbers don't get more encouraging when it comes to the people going to the shows, either—in recent seasons, critics have been vocal about the ways in which mainstream street-style photography seemingly captures only one type of person (and body type) in their imagery, despite the fact that the crowds at Fashion Week can be pretty diverse.
This season, though, one blogger is shepherding in change using the hashtag #FatatFashionWeek.
of came up with the hashtag while at a New York Fashion Week event hosted by , the plus-size luxury retailer—"an event filled with boss bigger women: influencers, supermodels, fashion directors of major publications," she tells Glamour. "And while writing my caption, I thought, How can [the industry] pretend no stylish fat women exist?"
"I created the tag as a way to kind of show receipts that there are many bigger women working in the industry, influencing the industry and consumers alike, and looking great while doing it," Brown adds, noting that this whole realisation and conceptualisation took about 30 seconds.
She's tagged her New York Fashion Week–related posts on Instagram with #FatatFashionWeek, and has incorporated it into her YouTube coverage of the week.
Other bloggers, influencers, and plus-size Fashion Week attendees have joined in too, including Alex Michael May, Alex Larosa, Kelly Augustine, and more. (At press time, the hashtag has over 130 posts published to it.) "I’ve seen editors using it, which is one of the biggest compliments," Brown says."A few people came up to me [at New York Fashion Week] to tell me they loved the hashtag and were excited to use it."
"I started attending [New York Fashion Week] over 12 years ago as a publicist, and then I always felt like the only one," Brown explains. "I know I wasn’t, but without the luxury of social media then, we weren’t connected. I love seeing so many larger models on runways [and] diversity at shows, but there’s still much to be done."
Brown believes that hashtags like #FatatFashionWeek are helpful because they remind everyone (in the industry or otherwise) that these people are present, as well as inspire those who are following the events from afar but don't feel like they're presented in the images coming out of it. "There are up-and-coming bigger people who want to work in the industry and can follow the hashtag and see that they belong here too," she says.
It may have started a spur-of-the-moment post, but Brown is already thinking bigger picture: "The goal is now to grow it—I’d love to see models, makeup artists, people who work backstage [and] in PR, inclusive designers using it…. Hopefully, more to come next Fashion Week!"