• Sara Marsden-Shreeve

Inclusive Fashion Matters! My Top UK Trailblazers.


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Style Love Is A Universal Thing And Should Be Accessible To Anyone Who Wants It

What does 'Inclusivity in Fashion' mean to you?


It maybe that you want to see more representation for your body whether in shape and size or in a practical sense to meet your current needs around changes in health or physicality. Maybe you feel your ethnicity and religious requirements are not being met, or your age or sexuality is not being represented fully or maybe it is something else?


It's no lie that fashion needs to be much more inclusive and diverse, not only in size and fit but to appease the many problems consumers have finding clothes that meet their needs, purses and an increasing planet friendly ethos.


We all need to find ways to express ourselves and build a happier self image and what we are exposed to, see, and ultimately wear can absolutely help us on that journey, but sadly it can still remain a challenge.


Why? Because there is still way too much emphasis and representation around society's so -called "ideal' body and look in which is flaunted on runways, mainstream in online stores, social media posts, in magazines, beauty advertising and more .


I am completely committed to the notion that 'all bodies are good bodies' by the way and I am in no way dissing the bodies are aesthetics of these women either.. I just want there to be more diverse representations to be available to us all.


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The One Size Show In Social Media

If brands learned to market more realistically they could make a massive difference and dilute the pool with more diversity that no longer favours one particular aesthetic i.e currently the slim and the flawless. We want to see a plethora of women/people we can relate to and we want it to happen for our children too.


On a similar note, I did welcome the recent news that brands, social media posts and other marketing images are to label any images deemed as 'retouched' because I believe this reminds us that what you see is not always real and that photo-shopping and filters are rife.


It's a vicious circle though, because many clothing brands still fuel the fires with their poor sizing and fit, inadequate ranges , vast pricing scales (high end to fast fashion) and the same 'cookie cutter size' models donning their wares on their websites (ahem, Zara are you listening?! sort out your sizing too). The worst thing for me is when I see sites advertising 'plus size' (dislike that term anyway) ,for example, and the models are nothing of the sort. Grrr....


As consumers I believe we are demanding much more from our clothes and this is great news... the industry just needs to sit up and listen a lot more.


Thankfully, there are changes afoot, albeit it slow, and I have noticed that many brands are starting to fulfil these needs and have begun using more models of realistic shapes and sizes, ages and ethnicities, as well as giving more information about the product and the brand story.


They are also giving more attention to categories of individual differences for us to search through such as 'curve', 'tall', 'petite' and 'modesty' clothing, and even the lingerie and swimwear arenas are trying to cover elements of fit to recognise the needs of 'post surgery' audiences.


Some brands however, are going the extra mile and building their lines solely around these unique selling points that meet the needs of the evolving customer and I am more than happy to share with you the UK brands that |I have found during my client work as an Holistic Image Consultant.


Therefore, I have listed my Top 10 flag fliers for you to check out and share the love with... The more we support the little guys and the brands that listen, the bigger the difference we can make going forward. After all , fashion is about the people wearing the clothes, not the clothes themselves.


1) KINTSUGI CLOTHING


https://kintsugiclothing.com/


This Manchester brand is an awesome ambassador for all bodies and strongly encompasses universal design and being 'inclusive' rather than 'exclusive'. From wheel- chair friendly designs to easy fastenings and stretchy waistlines, they are truly worthy.


The name derives from the Japanese art form and philosophy of mending and reinventing broken pottery with gold lacquer. A glorious reminder that we are beautiful in our stories, uniqueness and reinvention and are not weakened or broken by these differences. I love this thinking and have introduced some of my clients to it too.


2) FRIDAY PETITE


https://www.fridaypetite.co.uk/


For petite and/or slim framed women, the struggle in finding clothes to fit often resorts in scouring the brands for rarer small sizes, shorter hemlines or inside legs, and sometimes even involves having to check out children's clothing lines.


In truth, the word 'petite' can mean different things for different people and if you fall into this search category it can throw up all kinds of problems.


The trouble is brands have a tendency to believe that "petite" means short and slim and often fail in sizing for the fuller figure, so here lies a problem . Cross searching curve and petite can become an art form.


Therefore, I have always found the following peeps to be truly helpful in all arenas of 'petite-ness" and are a great place to start to hone in on your personal needs and check out brand reviews and seasonal drops.


However, I have to say that good old M&S, other department stores or quality jeans brands that state waist and length measurements on their garments can come through for you too. For petite styling tips check out my blog post Positively Petite here.



3) DEAR CURVES

https://dearcurves.com/


With the average size being a 16 in the UK, it still infuriates me when I cannot find well cut or edgy clothes in sizes upwards of this to inspire and showcase to clients on their private style boards.


I find it equally annoying that some brands use models that do not even represent the 'fuller bodied beaut' which says to me, "we are not listening to the current changes needed" or "understanding what 'plus-size' or 'curve' actually looks like". Which seems a bit daft and doesn't sit well with me in their commitment to understanding and relating to their audience.


However, this London based company I found to be a breath of fresh air and the models travel on the breeze with it, providing a beautiful array of colour and pattern with an African influence ,working with the fuller body and curvier silhouettes. Gorgeous!



4) VeRAF

https://www.verafclothing.com/


Being taller is something we may want to be, myself included, but being anything over 5ft8"can bring it's own problems when it comes to clothing and fit, which is why this company was set up by a London based woman of 6ft 2".


You just can't get the right length in sleeves, hemlines and trousers and often have to resort to layering up your tops to meet your wrists or wearing supposedly 'longer length' trousers as a 'cropped' style.


Sadly, I have to say there weren't many independent UK labels left on my resource list when I put this post together, probably down to Covid.


However, there is a boutique brand I came across more recently that delivers lovely pieces across seasons as well as in nightwear, and there is even a SS22 launch already. Awesome sauce.



5) KIT & KABOODLE

https://www.kitandkaboodal.com/


As a woman in my mid-forties myself it's not often I come across fashion brands that showcase silver haired and more mature woman amongst the myriad of younger models, so it's always a joy to come across sites that celebrate ageless style standing equally and proudly.


This UK brand does just that and I smile every single time I visit and I have clients that love their garments too and have bought things in every colour. If you like the 'lagenlook' aesthetic then you'll be in heaven, plus, they even have a body-shape guide to help you which recommends their pieces. What more could you want?



6) ATELIER HIJAB


https://atelierhijab.com/


In the Western world it may feel quite difficult for some cultures and religions to dress in a contemporary way that not only respects once beliefs but also creates a sense of style and relatability amongst budding fashionista, let alone at affordable prices .


Therefore, I think this brand ticks all the boxes and oozes chicness and modern design in every image, totally providing fresh takes on dressing modestly and with elements of couture. Brilliant stuff.


7) LUCY & YAK

https://lucyandyak.com/


This Brighton based brand is so full of diversity and all round good vibes. There are women of all walks of life showcased in their blogs, catalogues and stories. It's fun, ethical, sustainable and has a great 'handmade' ethos to boot.


If !you love dungarees it's a win win too and they have a great following.


8) NICOLA JANE


https://www.nicolajane.com/


When it comes to dealing with impactful changes in our health, having to confront massive life events such as breast cancer is harrowing enough without the fraught challenge of trying to find clothes to fit, especially in the lingerie and swimwear department.


The effects of mastectomy and post surgery can leave women feeling lost in their identity as a woman, alone and unsupported in all aspects of the word at the start, Add to that the realisation that clothes don't sit the same anymore and nor does their previous confidence. I have experienced my own mum and other family members go through this challenging time and it isn't easy.


However, fear not because this established British brand has been around to provide an understanding ear and service for years and is well worth a looksy.



9) GFW - (GENDER FREE WORLD)


https://www.genderfreeworld.com/


In a world in which sexuality is becoming more fluid and inclusive, many people are wanting to dress less gender specific and identify as just being themselves, choosing to wear clothes that make them happy and aren't defined as masculine or feminine.


The term 'unisex' is globally recognised and has been around for eons within clothing brands, however, it is refreshing to see that brands are coming forward to represent people who want the freedom to express themselves as 'gender free' or androgynous in their own right.


This brand shows beautifully how easy their shirts and accessories can be worn and look equally great on all people and I welcome it with open arms. The clever thing is they have nailed the sizing to suit all genders.



10) MADE TO FIT


No, it's not a brand but a passion for many creatives.


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Your Inclusive Style Genie Awaits You

I couldn't finish my post without mentioning the myriad of people out there who make it possible for fashion inclusivity to be available to all.


There is no doubt that there is a seamstress, independent designer or dress-maker local to you and each and every one of them are ready and able to make you the perfect outfit, garment, adjustment or accessory to suit your every need, style and perfect proportions, just as you are.


So get on google, if you can't find anything to ring your bell or tick your style boxes, and give back to the small business and local entrepreneurs, They can provide your styling dream and give you the authenticity you desire and the cost per wear you will enjoy will be well worth it.


SHARE THE INCLUSIVE LOVE


I realised when I was writing this post that I just couldn't begin to include all of the beautiful and creative uniqueness of other brands out there, yet to be discovered by me, so if you know of a great brand that's trailblazing too, or you are indeed one yourself making your way in the UK, please post in the comments and let me know. You deserve to be seen and I welcome every one of you.


INCLUSIVE FASHION MATTERS!!!!


Feel free to check out my other blog posts and don't forget that you can subscribe to The Image Tree Family anytime (via the pop-up). It's a monthly smile in your inbox that includes my latest blog post, mind, body and wardrobe love and oodles of Holistic hugs, offers, news and style finds... Oh and I love to laugh so there's always some funnies to be had.


As an Holistic Image Consultant, Coach and Body Positive Advocate it's important to empower the whole of you because it's not just about the clothes for me.


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