Will Runway Riot Make Fashion Get Real About Body Shape?
by Emily Shire
A new website is selling self-confidence—and clothes—to women who don’t fit size zero. Welcome yes, but does a ‘healthy’ measure bring its own set of barriers?
I must admit there’s something refreshing about going to RunwayRiot’s homepage and seeing images of Chloë Grace Moretz, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, and Lena Dunham all centimeters from each other without any special distinctions made about how one is “curvy” or “breaking rules” by simply being the size she is.
The recently launched fashion website is a reincarnation of Mediaite’s Styleite with a new focus on promoting body diversity and creating content—and selling items—that appeal to women of all sizes, not just what is called “straight-sized” aka traditional or standard runway-sized women.
British model Iskra Lawrence, 25, has been named the managing editor of RunwayRiot and is charged with delivering Mediaite founder Dan Abrams’ conception of a fashion-focused site that speaks directly to this demographic so often shunned and/or ignored by the fashion industry.
“Under the surface of RunwayRiot lies the assumption that the fashion industry either hasn’t noticed a growing demand for plus-size clothing, or doesn’t care,” wrote Alexandra Steigrad in a Women’s Wear Daily article. I would venture that “assumption” has a lot of truth.
Plenty of ink has already been spilled over the frustrating lack of body diversity in the high-end fashion industry and multiple campaigns have targeted companies that fail to accommodate or explicitly ignore—or, worse, actively turn away—non-skinny women.
Hell, many countries have even banned the use of models that are too underweight.
The fact that the fashion industry hasn’t significantly changed its voice or offerings aside from a few token examples is both curious and vexing—and RunwayRiot is ready to adroitly tap into that.
“When you have 60-plus percent of American women who are considered plus size—that’s an enormous opportunity,” Abrams told WWD.
“I feel like this is the beginning. It’s something simple, but I’ve never been able to find a trend that includes more than four or five size model,” Lawrence said.
But RunwayRiot is not the only one trying to tackle the lack of body diversity—or cash in on this frustration. (On that latter point, just to be clear, RunwayRiot is not purely editorial content; it is also an e-commerce site, meaning it wants readers to both feel empowered and buy stuff.)
Aside from the commercial campaigns launched by corporations like Dove and Lane Bryant, there are countless “fatshion” (fashion for non-straight-sized women with an activist kick) and body positivity sites: And I Get Dressed, Garner Style, and Chubster for men.
Jes Baker, the body image advocate behind The Militant Baker and the recently published Things No One Tells Fat Girls even offers a separate, long list of sites that specifically promote fashion with an empowering, pro-body diversity, pro-self love, good vibes message.
And yet, despite the plethora of sites, the modus operandi for many of us—men and women—is to feel inferior and ashamed of our bodies when compared to what we see on newsstands, Instagram, and department store mannequins.
RunwayRiot’s birth raises the question: Is there a way to create a one-size-fits-all site that caters to women of all shapes, weights, and—most importantly—insecurities?