Scrolling through my social media is a constant reminder that fashion week is happening all over the globe. It’s a parade of models and fashionable icons walking around the Parisian streets in expensive couture and outfits straight from the runway. Although there are hundreds of pictures to look at, I rarely see any street fashion photos of a guy in a really suave outfit — unless he’s in the arms of another pretty girl. The men who are at fashion week are often photographers, dressed in black, looking to get a good picture of someone famous to put in the pages of Vogue.
So in this industry that caters to women, dresses women, and is seemingly mostly for women — why is it that men still dominate the fashion world?
I’ve always grown up thinking that the faces behind these big-name designers were all women. The way these companies choose to represent themselves, whether in the advertisements or clothing style, were clearly meant to attract girls who are looking to indulge in beautiful things. After growing up, I realized to some shock that some of my favorite, feminine brands aren’t actually products of women. I was surprised when I learned that Ellie Sabb is indeed a man, and BCBG’s CEO is not a chic, short-bobbed French woman, but a man — Max Azria.
Big name couture designers like Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel and Clemente Garavani of the Italian house of Valentino are some of the oldest and most well-known fashion houses in the industry. Other designers, like Oscar de la Renta and Roberto Cavalli, are no exception. They make extremely feminine clothes and their designs are meant to make a woman feel pretty and luxurious — and they dominate this industry.
Despite the fact that the fashion world predominantly caters to women, it’s still a man’s world. When I look at the names of executive heads and lead designers (everything corporate-related) they’re all the names of men.
Of course, there are women who work high up in the industry, like Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and designers like Diana Von Furstenburg and Stella McCartney. Some of the most successful brands are run by women and encourage plus sizes and style for the average weight/shaped girl, but they can hardly be compared to Karl Lagerfeld or Christian Dior. The regular working class of women who join the fashion world all start at the bottom. They are the writers at fashion magazines, stylists for models backstage, and make-up artists for photo shoots — but rarely do they get to the top.
While men have and will always succeed in the business world from technology to law, women should at least be properly represented in the roles that profit so specifically off them. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for men in fashion, but to emphasize that there’s certainly a space for women — more than we’re seeing now. The rising generation probably has a shot at making a change (or so we hope) and the extra coverage of feminism should likely help us get us a jumpstart.
BY CINDY VU