In collaboration with Bella Management, The Afterpay Australian Fashion Week is set to feature “The Curve Edit”. It is the first dedicated runway for plus-sized models in Australian history. The May event also debuts a stand-alone show for adaptive fashion designed for people with disabilities.

Credit: Chelsea Bonner Instagram

With the average Australian woman now a size 12-14, advocates have long been calling on Fashion brands to make more inclusive fashion that caters for a range of sizes.

“I’ve been fighting and working for this for 20-something years now,” CEO of size-inclusive modelling agency Bella Management, Chelsea Bonner, tells the Guardian.

“If I had pitched this idea even five years ago, it never would have happened. It’s a whole new world. The way we think about bodies, the way we think about ourselves is so different now.”

Credit: Bella Made Management Instagram

As reported by Studio 10, Valentino is the only designer to feature a range of plus-sized fashion models in their Haute Couture shows on the European runways this year. The Italian label’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli offered up a selection of refreshingly average body sizes. This is considered to be a breakthrough in European fashion, as Haute Couture is famously made for people who are smaller than the sample size.

Drawing Headlines

In recent years, it has become a trend for designers to feature plus-sized and diverse models as a one-off ploy to draw headlines; before reverting the following year to the more traditional way of doing things. This, in turn, draws criticism from influencers, trendsetters and models alike.

Credit: Sportsskeeda

Popular Fashion Account, Diet Prada is among the many voices calling for a major shake up in the fashion industry, with their critique of the Spring European runway shows.

Though size representation has diversified within the fashion industry, we’ve still come to expect seeing the same token few faces.” 

The popular fashion account, with over 3 million followers, writes on Instagram,

“It should never have been about needing a so-called “perfect” body for couture. It all comes down to the skill of the atelier, and of course, the vision to expand the bounds of beauty. Considering that haute couture is made to the client’s exact measurements, some of whom fall outside of sample size, it’s kind of odd that it’s taken so long to see body diversity on the major couture catwalks.”

While, Australian plus-sized model, Basjia, held the Australian Fashion Industry to account at the previous AFW when she posted,

“This show was not diverse it was tokenistic, and even though it was wonderful to see a range of models of different ethnicities and colour, models of different ages and curve models, it was all still so palatable.”

Changing Perceptions

There are still Australian Designers who refuse to make their designs any larger than a size 12. Plainly, they don’t want their designs seen on people with larger bodies. Former plus-size model Chelsea Bonner is making efforts to challenge the status quo. Bonner pitched the idea for a plus-size runway to IMG, the US-based events company that owns Australian Fashion Week.

Credit: The Guardian – AAFW Launch

The concept was well-received, as Natalie Xenita, who heads IMG’s Australian fashion events, tells the Guardian. “We’re working to create a more accessible and equitable industry by ensuring talented designers, creatives and fashion professionals of all identities have the opportunities and resources they need to succeed.” Although there is yet to be a plus-sized model posted on the AAFW Instagram page, hopefully, the “Curvy Edit”, will herald the start of a more lasting change within the Australian Fashion Industry.

“As a celebration of 20 years in fashion is presenting ‘The Curve Edit,’ this year as a thank you to the curve & plus fashion industry and our clients who have embraced extended size ranges over the past 20 years.” Bonner wrote on her Instagram. “Our hope is that by doing so it will encourage the future of extended sizing in fashion and will celebrate the designers who have embraced our mission from their very beginnings.”

Representing the Population

The Curve Edit will feature the work of six designers, with designs ranging in size from 12 – 26. The designer featured are 17 Sundays, Saint Somebody, Embody Women, Vagary, Harlow and Zaliea Designs.

Bonner writes on Facebook that her agency wants “to ensure that the models we represent in this space, who represent over 80% of the female population have the chance to walk the runway and show the world that women of every size deserve to be considered, embraced and acknowledged, as a forceful financial demographic of the mainstream fashion world.”

“The Curve Edit,” makes its debut on the 12th May at 2.30pm at Carriageworks Gallery 1. You can view the full schedule for the Afterpay Australian Fashion Awards here.

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