Goodbye, size zero. Hello, normality

Student designers will have to use models who actually resemble the average British woman

Size zero could be banished to the back of the closet under plans to encourage future Alexander McQueens to design clothes for real women. Fashion students will have to use size 18 mannequins under a government-backed proposal to be unveiled next month. Those behind the initiative hope it will force designers to remember the average British woman is a size 16-18.

The idea came from the fashion trio of Erin O'Connor, pictured right, Caryn Franklin and Debra Bourne, and is the latest salvo in a two-year-old campaign to stamp out fashion's obsession with youth, perfection and size zero.

The first institution to promote the new approach is Edinburgh College of Art, home of the new All Walks Centre for Diversity, which wants fashion to recognise that clothes are worn beyond the catwalk as well as on it.

Mal Burkinshaw, who heads Edinburgh's fashion course, said yesterday that linking students with real people was like "switching on a light". "There has been a disconnection between fashion students and the person who'd be wearing their clothes, the consumer," he said.

"Pairing students with someone helped them to understand their issues, their bodies, and their likes and dislikes. Students really learnt that fashion was beyond the catwalk."

Ms Franklin, the one-time BBC Clothes Show presenter-turned-fashion commentator, said getting students to embrace diversity would teach them about more than just learning to cut patterns.

"Students don't recognise the power they have: the power to change how corporations think. The fashion industry is criticised for the pale, rail-thin and young images that it sends out, yet consumers aren't all pale, rail-thin and young.

"Middle-aged women have more money to spend than anyone, if only they can find the right clothes to buy."

The All Walks Centre will be unveiled on 7 June during graduate fashion week, which is held at London's Earls Court exhibition centre and features the work of student designers from 50 universities and colleges.

Lynne Featherstone, the minister for equalities, who spearheads the Government's body-confidence campaign, said: "Too many people feel pressured to focus their energies on how they look. I want to shine a light on initiatives that celebrate a range of body images as diverse as the society we live in."

The Arts University College Bournemouth and Southampton Solent University have recently added body-shape projects promoting diversity to their courses. More colleges around the country are expected to follow suit.

Success for the campaign would bridge the divide between the fashion industry and its critics, which culminates in regular global hand-wringing at images of emaciated models during fashion weeks in London, New York, Milan, and Paris.

Psychologists said banishing size zero would have important repercussions for the population's mental health. Phillippa Diedrichs, of the University of the West of England's centre for appearance research, said: "Research shows consumers react better to images of more realistic models. It's really refreshing that this is coming from within the fashion industry, suggesting it understands the need for more diversity."

The initiative comes as new research reveals that British women are five times more likely to have a bulky rectangular-shaped body than the stereotyped hour-glass curves of a Marilyn Monroe. Alvanon, clothing fit analysts, based its findings on 3D imaging technology to measure 50,000 women across the UK and Europe.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Bianca Miller in the final of The Apprentice
tvMark Wright and Bianca Miller fight for Lord Sugar's investment
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick