Today all over the world, International Women’s Day is being celebrated! Here at Graduate Fashion Week, we want to share our acknowledgement of our thoughts on the importance of today, especially within the fashion industry.
Despite being 2018, with now over 100 years since the suffragettes fought for votes for some women, it has been proven that women are still struggling for equality. Gloria Steinem, American political activist and feminist once said “The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."
International Women’s day has been celebrated for 107 years, with the the first International Women's Day taking place on 8th March 1911. In continuation with this celebration and the feminism movement, the official International Women’s Day campaign is asking everyone globally to #PressForProgress. The campaign asks people all over the world to take action, retrospectively challenging sexual bias and stereotypes, and celebrate the achievements of women. All campaign information and how you can take action today can be found on here.
At GFW HQ, our office is full of individual, unique, strong and influential women, and to celebrate the admirable diversity here at GFW we have asked members of the team why International Women’s Day is so important.
“I THINK IWD IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE WE STILL HAVE SO MANY ISSUES IN SOCIETY REGARDING WOMEN AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS. HAVING A DAY TO CELEBRATE ALL OF THE PROGRESS THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN MADE IN REGARDS TO THIS, IS GREAT, AS WELL AS HAVING A DAY TO STAND UNITED AGAINST ISSUES THAT WE STILL HAVE TO FACE ON A DAILY BASIS.”
Dani Wall, Operations & Production Assistant
“IT IS OBVIOUS THAT WE STILL NEED TO CONTINUE THE FIGHT FOR GENDER EQUALITY AND WOMEN RIGHTS. IT HAS BEEN QUITE A REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD HAVING SEEN SO MANY MOVEMENTS HIGHLIGHT THIS NEED, STAND UNITED AND CONTINUE THIS FIGHT. INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY CELEBRATES THIS UNITY, CELEBRATING THE ACHIEVEMENTS WOMEN HAVE MADE SO FAR BUT ALSO REMINDS US ALL, MEN AND WOMEN, HOW MUCH MORE WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE TO ENSURE WOMEN ARE TREATED FAIRLY AND EQUALLY AND THEIR VOICE IS HEARD!”
Biljana Poposka-Roberts, Industry & Special Projects Manager
There are innumerable amounts of empowering women in the world, but to acknowledge International Women’s Day and to commend women’s battle for equality and rights, we have picked 4 influential women who have made an impact on women' position in the fashion industry throughout history.
Prior to WWI, women were expected to wear figure enhanced clothing which was tight fitting, and stereotypically feminine in design. As men ventured to fight in the war, women were expected to take on roles in the workplace. Post war, women were expected to return to their old lives and wear their old wardrobes but many refused, encouraging a development in female tailoring. Coco Chanel initiated this by designing outfits for women using fabrics typically prominent in mens underwear, focusing on comfort and softness primarily for leisurewear. This later progressed to Chanel’s renowned ‘Chanel Suit’ encouraging comfort for women with an active lifestyle, therefore supporting women in pursuit of their professional goals. Chanel revolutionised the way in which the woman wore their clothes, capitalising on changing times and female lifestyle requirements.
DIANE VON FURSTENBERG
Diane began her adventure in the fashion industry by introducing the jersey wrap dress in 1974 which had a huge influence on the future of women’s fashion. DVF has continued her career in fashion up until the current day. Back in 2006, Diane was elected as President of The Council of Fashion Designers with the likes of Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton and Madonna to name a few wearing her collections. In 2014, DVF was nominated as spokesperson for the ‘BanBossy’ campaign which advocates and promotes leadership opportunities for girls, and this year Diane has set up her own campaign ‘Women In Charge’. Coinciding with IWD, Diane von Furstenberg will open DVF headquarters in New York and host events and panel discussions to provide a forum to inspire and give exposure to women in charge. “To be in charge is what we all want to be and nothing is more inspiring than listening to women who are.”
‘These Bodies are Beautiful at Every Size' Model and influencer Ashley Graham changed the way the fashion industry looked at women and their body shapes. Ashley began her modelling career in 2001, and since has been featured on some of industry’s most well known magazine covers. Another female to make history, Ashley was also the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Ashley inspires many young women to feel confident in their bodies, and has spoken at high schools about body image and body acceptance. She has participated in humanitarian missions in South Africa with the Themba Foundation and is an ambassador of the Health at Every Size movement.
Beverly Johnson, model and a female who made fashion history. Beverly was the first American- African model to be featured on American Vogue magazine cover in August 1974, breaking racial taboo for the first time. Despite causing a stir on American soil, Europe praised American Vogue for their movement, as they previously had African- American model Donyale Luna on their magazine cover back in 1966. “The portrait, by Francesco Scavullo, didn’t shy away from Johnson’s blackness or depict her as an “other.” Instead, it presented a vision of elegant beauty that was relatable and real and totally of her era.” – Vogue Online. This movement was just the beginning of a new outlook on fashion, forty years later the world celebrates the beauty of race, and individuality.
We hope that everyone is celebrating International Women’s Day today, and honouring all of the courageous females throughout history who have fought for the rights that women have today. May all women continue to be happy, brave, confident, hardworking in the battle to conquer equality and parity.
Words by Amber Whitaker