Caryn Franklin: Revamping the face of fashion

[F]ashion expert Caryn Franklin, made her first appearance in Canada on Oct. 20, at Ryerson University for her campaign Diversity NOW, to discuss revolutionizing the industry’s perception on body image, one fashion student at a time. “To be creative we need to penetrate these stereotypes and diversify our vision of fashion, starting in classrooms,” says Franklin.

Having first appeared at London Fashion Week in 2009, All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, began as Franklin’s initiative to denounce stereotypes of what the “right look” is in the fashion world.

“We are a service industry, always trying to reinvent the latest look, or cosmetic, but disregard how destabilizing it is to the consumer,” says Franklin.

All Walks included eight diverse models in sizes, heights and race, which Franklin hopes will soon expand to men and models with disabilities. “All Walks didn’t want to ostracize anyone, we want to be inclusive, and influence corporations to do the same.”

Franklin also discussed Vogue’s letter of support to show realistic body images. “ We are very excited that one of the leading fashion corporations, Vogue, has recognized the need to educate young designers on positive body images.”

The letter also includes the ban of any misleading advertisements, and their campaign called The Health Initiative. “It took ten years to eradicate the face of the digital field,” claimed Franklin.

Three years after the debut at London’s Fashion Week, All Walks, with the support of British magazine i-D, has launched a nationwide competition encouraging students, from over 723 colleges, to research and submit diversified works of fashion journalism. One of the works from a student in Epsom, England, investigated racial identity.

“She wanted to show a softer side to black masculinity and condemn how black men are portrayed as thugs, and had them dressed in the colour pink,” says Franklin. Along with racial issues, another student chose to capture physical disabilities through a collection of photojournalism.

Franklin feels designers, curators and students alike need to be more conscious of the message they send out. “Instead of believing it’s easier economically to create a simplistic design for a tall and slim woman, we should include all shapes and be considerate of the statements we make; and the impact it has on society.”

Giving a new outlook to students, Franklin says she has hope for the future of the ever-changing world of fashion.