Letter from John Bartlett, director of the Marist Fashion Program
Thank you, Marist Circle, for giving me the opportunity to respond to the opinion piece titled “Marist Fashion: Stop Using Only Tall and Skinny Models”. As Marist’s Fashion Program Director, I was disheartened to see an opinion piece that did not accurately represent the program’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. This is a work in progress, as with all important social justice issues, and student views are welcome. But I feel the need to clarify the account and point out the factual inaccuracies in the article.
I understand that Kaylin Moss, the author of the article, agreed to star in Measure knowing that she was not going to receive financial compensation. There is documentation of the interaction between the Measure editorial team and Ms. Moss indicating that the cover personality was not to be financially compensated but would receive major exposure, a written article and a series of photographs dressed in the work of the Senior designers. Ms Moss replied that although she would have liked to be paid, she was nevertheless “honoured” to be chosen as the star student.
The other students modeling in the Measure issue which features Ms. Moss on the cover were indeed paid quite well as working students, as were the student models who parade for the Silver Needle Runway show. Ms. Moss was not considered a role model; she was seen as the student star of the matter and a representation and embodiment of the caliber of the Marist student body.
Ms. Moss questions the use of “traditional sample size models” in her opinion piece. Marist design students work on many body types, and we bring professionally cut styles from New York that range from sizes 4 to 14 and beyond. This year’s Silver Needle Runway features plus size collections, collections with only African American models, and trans models.
I respectfully disagree with the author’s view that students do not have the opportunity to explore all body types. The fashion program encourages students to always consider inclusion as part of today’s fashion and social landscape, and this is reflected not only in the work of senior designers, but also in other degrees and concentrations. For example, a junior design student creates a line adapted for people in wheelchairs, and many merchandising students have developed adaptable clothing projects. A group of senior merchandising students launched a Marist club for Runway of Dreams this year, whose mission is to create adaptive student runway shows.
Ms Moss limits her criticism to last year’s SNR. I invite him to take stock of the work of the senior collections this year. I believe she will be impressed by the variety of models and designs presented. The fashion program encourages merchandising and design students to expand their fashion concepts to be as inclusive as possible and not, as Ms Moss claims, to reinforce the “Eurocentric beauty maintenance cycle”. I was touched by the work of the students this year. It’s a true reflection of an expanding idea of beauty and inclusiveness and while there are certainly blind spots and areas that can improve, I’m confident the fashion program addresses and supports diversity, inclusion and a general sense of belonging. I also invite Mrs. Moss to visit the steelworks and witness the revolution quietly taking place.