When Rihanna launched Fenty in 2017, it was hailed as a game changer in the beauty industry. The makeup brand focused on catering to all skin tones and backgrounds, rather than having a narrow field, and has gone from strength to strength – The Drum highlights the recent launch of the Savage x Fenty inclusive lingerie line. While the brand has been a trailblazer for inclusivity in the world of fashion and beauty, the real test of success for inclusive beauty is whether it’s spread to other brands, or whether Fenty remains an outlier.

Creating representation

While a lot of lip service is paid to inclusivity, the real proof that companies care will come in the form of hiring and promoting diverse employees. This is especially important when it comes to disability. Not only do disabled models and fashion designers help to promote awareness over such issues, but, as Forbes highlights, they also lead to adaptive fashion – clothing that is suitable for people living with disability to wear, but comes from a high fashion background. The rate of models diagnosed with a form of disability is increasing; ABC Tampa Bay recently profiled one model, Andrew Brettner, who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a lifelong condition that impacts movement and coordination. Brettner has worked for Surf Style, a multi-million dollar label that operates across the eastern seaboard and his work is helping to break down barriers.

Research supporting change

Even if representation isn’t visible as an in-person factor, it can be beneficial to look at how language shapes the discourse, and how that can help to promote inclusivity. USA Today recently reported that Unilever was dropping the word ‘normal’ from their advertising campaigns after research showed it had the impact of making some people feel excluded. Changing the wording for entire product lines is not cheap, and will have big operational impacts down the line. However, it shows just how powerful the message of inclusivity can be in the beauty and fashion worlds, and it nods to wider trends that are impacting the industry’s major players.

Big name involvement

These inspirational stories have provided food for thought when it comes to the big brands. AdWeek has tracked the progress of several huge outlets, including Sephora and Glossier, in their efforts to become more inclusive. While it’s easy to be cynical and look at the potential benefits of inclusive advertising – BeautyPackaging.com estimates that 62% of Americans feel more inspired by inclusive advertising campaigns – it is nevertheless a moral imperative, on which Fenty has led the way, to provide inclusivity in beauty. It’s good news that the bigger outlets are now getting involved.

Yes – beauty and fashion are becoming more inclusive. People living with disability and people from diverse backgrounds are far more welcomed and, indeed, catered for, than in years past. With the hard work of brands like Fenty leading the way, the situation should only become equitable.

Image Credit:  Fenty Instagram


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