The fashion industry has long struggled with answering the calls for inclusivity and diversity. For years the industry has pushed aspirational images of the stick-thin model, from the runways to clothing sizing, in advertising and across almost all types of media. Now, with our collective rise in social political consciousness, penchant for activism and pressures from social media, brands seem to be getting the message. The change is slow, but urgent, as fashion brands are now expected to take a stance and join the conversations that their vocal consumers are taking part in.
Inclusivity in fashion means access for all
Inclusive style expert Meredith Shaw is one of the voices leading the conversation around inclusion in the industry, advocating for the democratization of style. She believes that inclusion is about more than just clothes — it’s about giving everyone the chance to fully experience life while feeling confident in what they’re wearing.
“When you deny the size range, deny someone a cute outfit, you’re really denying them the opportunity of the possibility of their life,” she explains. ”They’re not going to say ‘yes’ to the date, which could be the love of their life. They’re not going to go on that job interview. I get super stoked about style because I think it represents possibility and I think everyone deserves access to that.”
Shaw agrees that people are becoming more informed and responsible with their buying decisions — and in a time where money can be tight, we’re taking the time to think about where we spend. “It’s never been more important to know who the brand is and know who they actually are. People are just much smarter as a consumer. So, I love that as a principle moving forward into spring.”
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The pandemic’s influence on style
There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we think about style, but now as Spring 2021 offers new hope with vaccines and the return of some sense of normalcy, what will style look like as we emerge from lockdown?
“I’ve heard from a lot of people that they’re wearing a ball gown their first day back to normal,” she laughs. “I do think, like everything, when you lean hard one way, you’re going to pop back the other side. And I’m excited for it. I love an accessory. I love a sparkle. So there will be this thirst to show and to pop out.”
But with our current at-home style and with people dictating their own trends, fashion brands have had to adapt. “It’s really forced them to be incredibly creative and think outside the box, and I feel like that will continue,” Shaw muses. “We’re busting out of systems all over the place — that traditional patriarchal way of fashion being produced, and for whom and by whom, I think that we’re coming up against that. And I think the pandemic has only highlighted more that it’s changing.”
Related: Scented face masks are a thing now.
Calling out Spring 2021 fashion trends
When it comes to Spring 2021, Shaw sees a few trends coming this season that she encourages everyone to take part in, no matter what your size.
Trend one: Elevated comfort
“We’re still seeing comfort is still queen, but that comfort is moving into a little bit of a more elevated space. We’re looking at a bubble sleeve or a really wide leg sweatpant, with the seaming down the front, or we’re taking that sweat style into a knit,” she predicts. “So it still has a lot of comfort, but we’re getting a little bit more breathability as hopefully the temperatures warm up. And one of the things that’s lovely about this kind of more athleisure esthetic is that stretch fabric — it’s good on curves.”
Trend two: Romance and escapism
“I think we’re really going into that romance vibe. Thank you, Bridgerton! I think we’re looking for that bit of fantasy and bit of escape, that bit of nostalgia as well. So obviously, we’re seeing that kind of fantasy floral coming into play — a lot of lace embellishments, the heaving bosom and all that,” says Shaw.
And in 2021, we’re definitely looking for an escape. Exploring it through fashion isn’t a bad idea.
Trend three: the oversized trouser silhouette
“That silhouette of a tighter top and a larger oversize trouser, whether that’s a trouser or whether that’s a knit or a jean. But that kind of bralette or crop top and the larger trouser bottom — I think is a really big silhouette for Spring 2021. And again, it’s good [for all bodies].”
Related: Style trends spotted at the 2021 Grammys.
The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Get more style inspiration from Meredith Shaw on Instagram.