The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, or FIT, is one of the best-known fashion schools in the country. Timed to the recent reckonings that people have had with institutions and inclusivity, such as the call from black artists in Hollywood to invest in black creators, FIT students have also made calls for more inclusivity in their programs.
With a petition made by Bronwyn Goldschneider, an incoming sophomore at the school, students are calling for more inclusivity in FIT fashion illustration classes. This isn't a problem exclusive to FIT, but one that permeates through the fashion industry as a whole. In fashion, we mostly see models who are white, tall, thin, cisgender, and able-bodied.
The petition demands that the classes “teach the rendering of a wide variety of human skin tones and diverse body types, rejecting the backward status quo of solely illustrating pale-skinned, super-thin models to the exclusion of all others.” It states that the models used by FIT fashion illustration classes are almost exclusively white and size zero models, and goes onto say that “while there are many other areas where fashion design pedagogy contributes to vicious cycles of racism and size discrimination in the industry, fashion design illustration is fundamental and an important starting point for change.”
The petition is calling on the school to make this change as the Spring 2020 New York Fashion Week was the most racially diverse season. It’s often been said that everything starts with education, so it makes sense that students are calling on the school to make this change so that the school can help change the future designers of the world and reflect the world we live in.
According to the petition, professors told students in fashion illustration classes to use only pale and light-colored markers to color the models and dismissed calls to change their lack of inclusion. Students also argue that FIT perpetuates harmful size discrimination when it comes to models, which can often affect a model’s self-image and mental health severely.
The petition concludes by demanding that FIT “must lead the way in establishing fashion design curriculums that reflect the world we live in today. We, the undersigned, believe it is necessary that fashion illustration classes be led by professors who believe that all people are equally worthy of being cherished and represented. We want to change a toxic fashion industry that perpetuates white supremacist attitudes and body-shaming, all the while profiting from the pain of so many. We want learning how to render all skin tones and body types to be a PERMANENT part of the fashion design program.”
Multiple students have spoken up anonymously through Goldschneider’s Instagram account, sharing their experiences with the lack of inclusion and diversity in fashion illustration classes at FIT.
Sign the petition here.
Header image by Bronwyn Goldschneider / @bronwyng_
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Diana Holiner is currently a student at Emerson College where she is majoring in Visual Media Arts Production. She lives in Dover, Massachusetts and enjoys hanging out with her dog and watching television.