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Body Politics of Fashion in Social

Posted on 29 July 2016

The body politic of fashion is showing its grit in social media.

Scarce are designers in the exclusive world of fashion who possess the acumen, aesthetics and assurance to challenge the industry’s myopic tenets of beauty by championing body diversity and inclusion.

Enter American designer Christian Siriano, refreshing fashion outlier who unwittingly, perhaps, has prompted a debate in social media that challenges a largely taboo social issue—female image and self-confidence. Brands like Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, now in its 16th year, have challenged body stereotyping in pioneering global campaigns.

Owing to his body positivity mantra, New York designer Christian Siriano—known for his couture fantasy gowns and as a successful Project Runway winner—is fast becoming somewhat of a standard bearer for diverse body and age-defying couture fashion, and in the process, shunning an industry’s staid and stultifying notions of female beauty.

Siriano has also been diversifying the Red Carpet, attracting women of all sizes, statures, age and race, including celebrities Lady Gaga, Heidi Klum, Christina Hendricks, Zendaya and Oprah.

As the brand prospers at a faster pace than competitors, Siriano continues to experiment, with new collaborations. Among his most recent, a capsule collection for plus-size Lane Bryant and a bridal collection for Kleinfeld.

In an industry ruled by exclusivity where body image is mercilessly scrutinized, body shaming has escalated to a malevolent sport in social media. Exclusivity, as promulgated by the industry, perpetuates stereotypical beauty values, whose unrealistic and unattainable ideals further feed the vicious cycle of debased female self-esteem.

To his credit, Siriano has recently enjoyed a well-deserved embrace of social media love. He is arguably in the vanguard of redefining femininity and feminism in fashion aesthetics, countervailing industry doctrines of exclusivity.

“My mission now is what we’re calling that ‘everywoman,’” says Soriano. “You can be any size, any age, and wear something from our collection, and that’s so important to me.”

Recently, bucking industry practices and in the spirit of inclusivity, Siriano stepped in with a Twitter hand wave emoticon to rescue Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones from the dearth of offers from other designers to dress her for the premiere. Debunking the specious arguments that designers need months to fashion a gown, Siriano, with fewer resources than many designers, customized a gown for Jones in just over a week.

The Twitter response was effusive, analyzed in the NetBase cloud below.

Localspeak analyzed Siriano’s gesture in the social analytics platform NetBase. Filtering key insights to capture “body diversity,” “inclusion,” “body positivity,” and like conversations over 27 months, revealed an exponential surge in potential impressions (37.5 million) during the past month alone.

Remarkably, during a single month Siriano’s inclusive gesture captured one-third of total 27-month potential impressions filtered for the “inclusion” insight. This surpassed the brand’s social media reach for any other period in the 27-month analysis (99 million potential impressions) when filtered for this insight.

By comparison, when the “inclusion” insights is removed for the same 27-month period, the NetBase data shows that Siriano’s total potential impressions reach also peaked during the same month. A sign that Siriano has his finger on a hot social issue in fashion. Take note, Christian, you are shaking things up in social. .

Further evidence that Siriano has entered the political arena was witnessed at the Democratic National Convention, where Michelle Obama, in a passionate speech embracing diversity and inclusion, chose to wear one of the designer’s dresses.

The veil of infamy of fashion exclusion is being lifted, if ever so slightly, as social media scrutiny, and outrage, at the lack of diversity and inclusion becomes a major social issue in the body politic of an industry. By raising the bar, social media has become the great equalizer in fashion, pressuring labels to act responsibly. Brand love in social media is now a palpable criteria in marketing success.

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