Inclusivity in the fashion industry is a highly contested topic, but Lakme Fashion Week is breaking stereotypes by getting a transgender, as well as an androgynous model to walk the ramp for the first time in India, writes Alice Sharma
The fashion world has always been accused of ignoring and devaluing the marginalised. Fashion since its commencement, synchronizes with the stereotypical good body and the good face. If you are not at par with the strict ethos of the fashion industry, then chances are you will be neglected. Sometimes, even those who fit this mould start to feel the squeeze when they are constantly pushed to conform to the often narrow beauty standards.
Therefore it is but natural that the fashion industry has always been a highly contested topic. Critics have traditionally claimed that the subjective and Eurocentric attitude within the Indian fashion industry create a barrier between ‘them’ and the ‘other’. The ‘other’ is explicitly rejected when they fail to fit in the aesthetic norms. The differences erupt and therefore the disabled, the less beautiful, the LGBTQ community and those with special needs are deemed as too different to be able to represent the fashion industry.
Come 2017 and the fashion industry is changing fast, perhaps taking cue from the increasing inclusivity in the international scene, these overrated standards are evolving into more inclusivity. Jaspreet Chandok, Head of Fashion, IMG Reliance says that, “We are increasingly becoming more open as a community. Wide platforms like Lakme Fashion week S/R 2017 provide an opportunity to communicate and look at pushing the inclusivity agenda in seasons to come.,” he adds, “for us inclusive fashion means that everyone has a right to engage with it, irrespective of size, gender or orientation and the industry can only grow if it does not stand for a ‘select few’.”
Taking this inclusivity further, the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) summer resort 2107 is smashing all traditional ideologies by introducing transgender models, to gender neutral models on the runway this year. Take for instance, 32-year-old Anjali Lama who is walking the ramp at the LFW this year. Born Nabin Waiba in Nuwakot, Nepal, it has not been an easy journey for Anjali. Nuwakot is in rural Nepal and Lama had to fight prejudice, ridicule and social alienation in order to embrace her Trans identity. “My growing up years were full of doubt, coupled with self-contemplation. I was under immense pressure from society’s sexual standards,” she tells sbcltr. Lama eventually did come out as a Trans person and has been living as a woman. Since she took that decision, she says she feels closer to herself. For her, fashion has become a passion that has the potential to turn around the debate of social acceptance and inclusivity by spilling over from the ramp to the real world. “I certainly believe that fashion has become the modern day vehicle for change.” Lama who is also an LGBT activist will be the first transgender person to walk the ramp at the ongoing LFW.
Gender neutral or androgynous model, Petr Nitka, uses fashion to assert his identity and feels that being the first gender neutral model in India gives him the opportunity to showcase to people that sexual orientation should not deter you from being who you are.“For me, fashion is the platform where I get to choose. Only in modelling can I be really who I am. And the most important thing is that I can share my opinions with people and tell them that being different is nice, “he tells sbcltr. Nitka too will be walking at LFW this year where inclusivity and diversity has emerged as the most important trend.