History, diversity and personality - this week's episode of Smart Casual

Smart Casual is IMAGE's first fashion podcast, in collaboration with Kildare Village. In our bi-weekly chats, we examine why we wear the clothes we do and deal with personal style in a way that speaks to you. 


Diversity. It's a mammoth subject, and has become a bit of a buzzword in the fashion world as of late. For our second episode, we wanted to discuss the road that fashion has taken to be more inclusive in recent years, which can especially be seen in recent magazine cover trends.

Related: The September issues of 2018 show fashion's new normal

Related: Plus size model Tess Holliday stars on the cover of Cosmo UK

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The irony of three white, cisgendered, average-sized, middle-class women discussing diversity wasn't lost on our hosts. But although they can't relate to many struggles surrounding inclusivity, the sight of a more diverse fashion landscape has meant a lot to them on their own style journeys.

IMAGE Fashion Director Marie Kelly has worked for years in the fashion publishing industry, but looking back on that journey has made her realise how things have progressed in recent years. Moving to London in the 90's, Marie became immersed in the so-called heroin chic era of style, where ultra-thin was the trend of the moment. She had her own struggles with weight and body image, and these weren't helped by working daily with altered cover images of Photoshopped models. Nowadays, she's much happier to see a more varied selection of models gracing the runway, because, as she says, it makes for a more interesting view.

Digital Leader Niamh O'Donoghue, who has a spinal deformity, grew up surrounded by unattainable, able-bodied visions of beauty. But, unlike our other hosts, she also had the luxury of the internet growing up. This meant that a whole world of alternative styles, looks and beauty standards were available to her, which made her aware from a young age that typical models were not the only way to be stylish. As time moved towards inclusivity, and campaigns such as River Island's Labels are for Clothes which features models with various disabilities are becoming successful, Niamh reflects on what these would have meant to her as a young teenager getting to grips with her body.

Digital Editor Dominique McMullan struggled with her body image for a number of years in her youth, and although she was obsessed with fashion magazines and photo shoots, they were silently affecting her self-esteem in a big way. Although diversity is such a large subject, it can boil down to something as simple as a young girl not seeing herself being represented in the world - because this is exactly how Dominique felt too.

Dominique had the opportunity to chat with Irish model, academic and broadcaster Emma DeBiri about diversity and inclusion, as well as how her own history, heritage and personality has impacted her wardrobe over the years. Emma has found herself playing many different roles in her career, but mentions that working in academia (she is currently working towards her PhD), helped to shape her confidence.

As Emma says, and as our hosts agree, the fashion industry has a long way to go before it can truly say it is dedicated to diversity and inclusion. But discussions like this week's episode will definitely keep the revolution moving.

Smart Casual is brought to you in partnership with Kildare Village, Ireland's premier luxury shopping destination. To be in with a chance to win a €300 voucher for Kildare Village and a styling session with IMAGE's fashion director Marie Kelly, all you need to do is simply rate, review and subscribe to IMAGE's fashion podcast,  Smart Casual. 

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