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Resolutions: The CFDA Wants Designers to Focus on Sustainability, Body Positivity, Diversity and Equality in 2019

Christian Siriano Spring 2019; Image: Imaxtree

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA), which represents all of the major fashion and accessory designers in the U.S., has been creating yearly resolutions each January to address the most important issues facing the industry. Last year’s resolutions were “mindfulness,” “inclusivity,” “exposure,” “well-being” and “growth.” This year, the resolutions have become more specific, zeroing in on environmental, gender, racial and body issues.  

Here are CFDA’s proposed resolutions for 2019:

Diversity and Inclusivity

“American fashion and the global industry have been slow to embrace diversity but this is the time to create meaningful change. The CFDA is committed to diversity and inclusion and we will work on programs to implement more paths for all people – regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and more.”

According to our diversity reports, 2018 was the most inclusive year on record. For the most recent runway season (Spring 2019), New York Fashion Week featured a record 44.8 percent women of color. Compare this to the 36.1 percent average across New York, London, Milan and Paris and it’s clear that American designers are leading the charge towards racial inclusivity. The Fall 2018 ad campaigns were also the most racially diverse ever, though they lagged behind the runways, with 34.5 percent women of color.

It was also a good year for non-binary and transgender visibility. The Spring 2019 runways featured a record 53 transgender women (compared to 91 across all four fashion cities). However, transgender models still struggle to be accepted. A statement by Ed Razek, Chief Marketing Officer of Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands, caused outrage when he told Vogue that the lingerie brand has no plans to cast transgender or plus-size models: “No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special.”

Despite the progress, there is still much more the industry can do and per CFDA’s resolution, “Here’s to more diversity and inclusion in 2019!”


“We have programs guided by sustainability, among them the CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative and Elaine Gold Launch Pad. Now, we’re ready to add another facet towards a more sustainable fashion industry. This month, we’re launching a comprehensive guide to sustainability for people in fashion, which will include a materials index, sustainability directory and toolkit.”

The CFDA, which is “committed to making the future of fashion sustainable” joins other recent efforts, including a global commitment to reduce plastic pollution signed by Burberry, H&M and 290 organizations worldwide and the UN’s climate change initiative, which follows the Paris Agreement in 2015, that plans to cut 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 

Body Positivity

“We are beginning to see signs of fashion moving in the right direction. Designers such as Michael Kors and Christian Siriano are casting models that defy tradition, from Paloma Elsesser and Ashley Graham to Candice Huffine (our Facebook Live red carpet host for the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards). Body Positivity is important in fashion and we want to see more designers and companies embrace this in 2019.”

The fashion industry still struggles with size inclusivity. For the Spring 2019 season, 49 plus-size models (2.2 percent) walked in 12 shows in New York, a vast improvement over last season’s 27 in 8 shows (1.2 percent) and Spring 2018’s 34 in 12 shows (1.3 percent) but still a comparatively dismal number. The Fall 2018 ad campaigns fared even worse, in fact, they hit a record low. After three seasons of plus-size castings remaining mostly static — with 10 in Spring 2018, Fall 2017 and Spring 2017, respectively — Fall 2018’s campaigns featured only seven models in the category.

Let’s hope the CFDA can encourage more of its member designers to embrace size diversity in 2019.


“Fashion has a reputation of being an exclusive field to which many aspire but few succeed. As we look to more diversity and inclusion, we also wish for more equity and equality so that everyone who loves fashion has a chance in 2019.”

Resolutions are notoriously hard to stick to, here’s hoping the fashion industry follows the CFDA’s lead and makes significant progress throughout the year.

[ Next: Report: The Spring 2019 Runways Were the Most Racially Diverse Ever, but Europe Still Has a Major Age and Body Diversity Problem ]