Becoming a More Inclusive and Diverse Fashion Business

fashion industry
May 15, 2023

The industry’s lack of representation or false presentation is glaring, and the dialogue required to increase everyone’s profile is resounding. Brands and retailers would benefit from gaining an understanding of the fashion industry’s inclusive and diverse practices in order to better cater to their customers’ needs. Brands will benefit greatly from increased conversion rates, average order values, and in-store customer engagement if their customers believe and feel that they are seen and appreciated regardless of their appearance, size, gender, race, or orientation. Given that we must have clothing to keep us alive, it stands to reason that the fashion industry would be highly competitive. This merely indicates that everyone makes use of fashion. However, the fashion industry often appears to be one of those currently lacking when it comes to inclusive and diverse practices, serving only a small subset of the population.

People have repeatedly brought up discussions about the industry’s need to be more welcoming of diverse perspectives. In a field they have believed in for some time, they are currently fighting for greater recognition and credibility. The market is adapting to meet the needs of consumers, but not as quickly as it could. There are, however, companies and artists displaying slanted products. Alexandra Waldman, co-founder and creative director of Universal Standard, told Vogue Business that the fashion industry has been “suffering” because of the prejudice against larger bodies. Customers are always on the lookout for new brands and stores that carry well-fitting garments, highlighting the significance of individualization in the fashion industry. It is impossible to ignore individual customers’ measurements when sewing garments. Due to our uniqueness as a species, our cups, hips, and waist all vary in size. Thus, there is no universal solution. According to a 2017 report by Andrea Kennedy for The Fashion Structure Journal, 62% of shoppers have no luck finding clothes in stores that fit. Over 75% of clothing sizes are incorrect, according to a 2019 report by Verena Erin for My Green Closet. Learn more about fashion and luxury fashion brands over at

What does it mean to be inclusive?

It’s easy to confuse diversity and inclusivity because they sound similar, but these concepts are actually quite distinct. Inclusion goes beyond merely recruiting people from different demographics, such as those who differ in age, race, sexual orientation, and body type. To promote diversity, a company’s Creative Director may, for instance, hire models of varying heights and skin tones. However, does the company have access to makeup artists who are familiar with the nuances of different skin tones? Do stores whose creative directors source items carry items that fit well regardless of size? If customers liked shopping at your store, how likely are they to return in the future? These are some important questions to consider as we strive for greater diversity and inclusion. It’s one thing to try to include as many people as possible in your work as possible, but quite another to actually take the time to get to know each individual.

In what areas is fashion losing the inclusion trail?

From 2019 to 2028, Statista predicts a global plus-size women’s apparel market worth of $178.5 billion USD. The plus-size women’s clothing retail industry saw a significant drop in value from 2019 to 2021, according to the same Statista report. Despite making up more than 60% of the shopping population, people with larger frames have a hard time locating clothing that fits properly. I despise disposable fashion that rips after one use. I avoid spending a lot of money on necessities that are overpriced. Neither a muumuu nor a bodycon dress is appealing to me. A shopper tells Refinery29’s Eliza Huber, “I want items actually made to fit my body.” People who identify as queer, trans, or nonbinary are also underrepresented in the fashion industry. With an industry as intrinsic to individuality as fashion, it’s surprising that so many people in the plus size range have trouble finding clothing that actually fits. Stonewall found that 31% of non-binary people and 18% of trans people did not feel comfortable wearing clothing that reflected their gender expression at work. The growing number of returns at stores like Telfar and Equipment illustrates the need for these companies to do a better job of personalizing their products for each customer. To combat this issue, cutting-edge businesses like 3DLOOK have developed tools that provide retailers with in-depth analytics on body shape and access to consumers’ body data, allowing for more accurate sizing, better inventory management, more streamlined supply chains, and more exciting, enjoyable shopping experiences.

Finding something that fits perfectly when you’re plus-sized, gay, or disabled can be challenging enough. As of the year 2020, 61 million adults in the United States will have some sort of disability, as reported by CDC.GOV. Twenty-six percent, or one in four, American adults are disabled. This is why it’s important for stores to carry brands that practice inclusive clothing manufacturing. It establishes a reliable foundation for patrons, which significantly boosts satisfied shopping experiences and repeat business.

What can fashion do to be more inclusive?

The representation of the people is of paramount importance. Most likely, fashion can become more inclusive by fostering a deeper understanding of the meaning of representation and its relationship to the fight for equality and diversity. Most of these repressed and marginalized people being part of the team is one of the best ways to understand this struggle and undertaking in the fight for representation. If there aren’t trans and nonbinary people relaying information about what they need, how can a brand know what they don’t have? How else would a company know that being plus-size has more causes than just menopause or postpartum? Without someone on staff to point out that lingerie and crop tops shouldn’t have size limits, brands might not realize that not all plus-size people want to cover up their bodies

Besides finding clothes that fit, plus-sized people, when they do, also have to go through the hassles of pricing. In their case, they may have to break the bank to look good. “Obviously, it costs more to make plus-size clothing because of the amount of fabric used, but if the pricing metric is going to be based on size, then every size should be priced differently,” says British designer Amanda Bowes to NyTimes.

How can social media play a role in fashion’s push for inclusion and diversity?

We have seen that most historical revolutions at the intersection of humanity and the fashion industry are as a result of collaborative hashtags and shares on social media, such as #WhatsInMyClothes, #WhoMadeMyClothes, #ENDSARS, #HonorMyCurves, and #BeautyBeyondSize. “Our bodies are often problematized in the mainstream representations of us,” writes Kara Kupe for Vogue Business. Having an Indigenous women-led editorial and showcasing self-representation that celebrates Indigenous peoples’ strength and beauty is empowering. When it comes to promoting diversity and welcoming everyone, social media has been a game-changer. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many events have moved online. Because of the rise of fully digital and hybrid TV shows, some casting directors have turned to the internet in search of fresh faces that fit the bill for their productions.

How can technology aid inclusion and diversity in fashion?

One of the most important ways that fashion can promote diversity and inclusion is through the use of artificial intelligence and virtual reality. By taking into account all of the human body’s angles, body shape analytical tools can help stores learn how their actual customers look and address poor fit issues. Immense progress has been made toward answering important questions like “will this fit me or will this look good on me?” through a virtual try-on platform that is both accurate and sensitive. Retailers can learn more about their actual customers’ appearances, categorize them into shape groups, and provide more tailored offerings with the help of AI-based size recommendation tools. Users can examine their bodies in great detail using this technology, and gain confidence in the knowledge that there is a product available in their size and shape that fits comfortably. 3DLOOK’s collaboration with Mive, a curated carbon-neutral marketplace of ethically and sustainably made garments for all bodies, is a great example of fashion technology meeting a size-inclusive brand. Using 3DLOOK’s Mobile Tailor solution to take measurements from customers wherever they may be can improve on-demand production, result in garments that actually fit, promote equality, diversity, and sustainability, and drastically cut down on returns.

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