Elle.com is using its first official partnership with YouTube to tackle the lack of inclusivity in fashion.
On Tuesday evening — during a panel discussion at New York’s Chelsea Market, featuring diversity advocates including designer Christian Siriano, plus-size model Candice Huffine and singer Keke Palmer — the Hearst-owned publication announced a new video series titled “Fashion For All.” The videos will be shared over the next few weeks on YouTube and Elle.com, and center on a variety of topics pertaining to inclusivity in the fashion and beauty industries. The first release, shared during the event, features plus-size model Precious Lee discussing her experience breaking fashion barriers while navigating an industry that has long favored straight sizes.
Nikki Ogunnaike, Elle.com’s fashion features director and host of “Fashion For All,” said in an interview after the event that the series was inspired by what her fellow editors feel is a lack of progress among designers and marketers to include a representative range of women across size, race, gender and sexuality. While fashion month in February reflected progress, being hailed the second-most inclusive season to date, she said continuing to create forums for dialogue only helps to push the agenda further.
“There’s always more work to be done,” Ogunnaike said. “We’re making strides, and we continue to make strides. Until a runway looks like Christian Siriano’s runway — where no one’s a token, it feels natural, it feels diverse — there’s more work to be done.”
Siriano, who has long been an outspoken proponent of designing for all women, said during the panel that including plus sizes was never a question to him and was also never viewed as a separate category. Beyond serving as an advocate for plus-size fashion, it’s a lucrative sector of the market that remains underserved, he said.
“My team, the people that are putting a collection together, we just don’t think about [plus-size fashion] the same way,” he said. “We’re not out searching for it. We’re noticing our customer is very different. She’s shopping all over the world, and is all different sizes and ages. Some of our No. 1 customers are over size 10, so we figured if we showed that on the runway or in a campaign, they would be more willing to shop.”
Though Elle has long posted its own content on YouTube, including beauty tips and behind-the-scenes interviews with celebrities, this is the first sponsored series in partnership with the video juggernaut.
Anna Jimenez, digital media director of editorial video content at Hearst, said YouTube felt like a natural platform for a series centered on diversity, given its ability to serve as a mouthpiece for emerging perspectives.
“YouTube is known for user-generated content, where people who typically don’t have a voice can create their own content,” she said. “Outsiders become insiders. It’s big for entrepreneurship, and for women who don’t necessarily see themselves represented who take it upon themselves to create beauty tutorials and fashion hauls.”
Ultimately, Ogunnaike said, the series’ aim is to serve as an extension of Elle’s commitment to supporting inclusivity that is reflected in both its staff and its coverage.
“Elle has consistently tackled this conversation, and working with YouTube allows us to amplify this conversation,” she said. “Inclusivity and diversity has always been important to us, from the diversity on our staff to the people we cover.”
Photo courtesy of Elle