Model Rebecca Dubber from new agency All is for All at the NZFW 2019 model casting. Image by James Yang Photography.
New Zealand Fashion Week 2019 is just two weeks away now and over the weekend the major fashion event held its model casting at the Grand Millennium hotel which was a much more diverse affair than usual. While diversity in the fashion industry has been a talking point for many years, change has been painfully slow but this year’s casting showed that the time for serious change and proper inclusivity is now.
NZFW declared recently that the 2019 event would have a focus on two key themes, sustainability and diversity, with the organisation living up to its promise and opening up the casting to any agency who wished to present models. A record 16 agencies put themselves forward to present over 400 models including several new agencies, one in particular of note is All is for All co-founded by university student Grace Stratton and PR manager Angela Bevan. Back in March, we shared with you the launch of All is for All’s accessible shopping website, which offers people with access needs the opportunity to see clothes on people of all abilities with detailed information about garment fit and dressing info to help make their purchasing decisions easier. It was a revolutionary idea and has had a fantastic reception worldwide and saw co-founder Grace Stratton named as one of InStyle magazine’s 50 Badass Women of 2019.
But of course every online shopping website needs models and so All is for All added a modelling agency to its accessibility project and has signed a fantastic group of local models. Many of whom have already featured on the website and 12 models from All is for All participated in NZFW’s model casting on Saturday. It was the first time a modelling agency has put forward models with access needs for NZFW’s annual casting and was a significant step forward in terms of diversity. Each model took their turn to walk or wheel in front of the designers who are showing at this year’s NZFW, with a joyous round of applause as the group did a finale lap together. It was an emotional moment for Grace and Angela, both shedding happy tears at the achievement, along with several others in the room.
Co-founder Grace Stratton (left) and model Sophia Malthus (right) from All is for All.
“I was so thrilled to present All is for All’s agency for the first time, with my co-director Angela Bevan,” says Grace Stratton. “I don’t know if I can really put into words what it means, I have spent much of my life wanting there to be more representation – and so to see our first 12 models, with access needs, at that casting – I felt like – ‘Yes, okay we have made this happen, this is the first step’. All of the designers, NZFW and the people at the casting were so open to receiving these models. I cannot wait for next year, where we’ll be coming back with even more models.”
“And on another note, I am elated that our “Fuck the Status Quo” model cards were well received, I spent a long time making sure that we would get a very clear message across, I think we got it over the line – and every single card pack also received an FAQ sheet about accessibility, because accessibility is new for this space, so we wanted people to feel like they understood – we wanted to take away any fear of the unknown and allow people to ask questions. I’m proud of us doing that – I cannot wait till next year.”
Each designer in the room will be choosing their models for their NZFW show from those put forward for the casting, with many more models of different ethnicities, ages, sizes and abilities to choose from then previous years. Among the other new agencies who had models at the casting were Silverfox Management Group representing mature models, Ataahua Models who have Tikanga Maori as one of their core values and Belle Models, NZ’s first curve agency.
In a couple of weeks time we’ll find out just who gets to claim their spot on the runway when New Zealand Fashion Week 2019 kicks off on August 26th at Auckland’s Town Hall and Aotea Square. Best of luck to all the models, we hope to see many of you there.
Models from Belle Models walk for the NZFW designers.
Images by James Yang Photography.