These Models Are Out to Change the Fashion Industry

It’s not exactly news that the modeling industry is due for a change. There have been plenty of debates over weight requirements and diversity, and the models we see walking the runway rarely, if ever, look like average, everyday women. But lately the media and the public have taken a liking to models who don’t fit that mold: Madeline Stuart, who has Down syndrome, and Tess Holliday, the first size-22 model to sign with a major agency, have both been well-received, giving us some hope for what’s to come. Could the wait for seeing “real women” cover magazines and star in ads soon be over?

The truth is, we’ve still got a long way to go, but we’ll applaud each and every baby step along the way. Progress is progress, and to quote that old idiom, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Read on to see all the women who are setting out to change the game as we patiently wait for this to be the new norm.


Hari Nef

Why You Need to Know Her: Hari is a transgender model and actress and was recently signed to be represented by one of the top agencies, IMG. This move shows the industry is becoming more and more accepting of the transgender community, and we’re expecting to see big things from this woman.


Tess Holliday

Why You Need to Know Her: Not only did Tess Holliday grace the cover of People magazine, but she was also the first size-22 model to be signed to a major agency, Milk Model Management.


Madeline Stuart

Why You Need to Know Her: At 18 years old, Maddy, who has Down syndrome, is setting out to change the world. With a love of styling outfits and posing for photos, she wants to prove that anyone can be a model — and we’re right there with her.


Chantelle Winnie

Why You Need to Know Her: If you’ve passed a Desigual recently, you’ve definitely seen Chantelle Winnie, aka Winnie Harlow, who stars in the brand’s campaign. The model, who has vitiligo, first made headlines after being personally scouted by Tyra Banks for a season of America’s Next Top Model and has also appeared in ads for Diesel.


Stefania Ferrario

Why You Need to Know Her: Stefania, who is a size-8 model and stars in ads for Dita Von Teese‘s latest lingerie line, spearheaded the #droptheplus movement, which is encouraging the industry to do just that. Models are models — why do we need an extra word?



Why You Need to Know Them: DKNY campaign models John and Carlos are the first gay couple ever to sign with a modeling agency (Fusion). Previously, they had been told by the industry to “be ambiguous about it” when it came to their orientation, so this move was truly historic.


Iris Apfel

Why You Need to Know Her: Iris Apfel isn’t just a style icon — at 93 years old, she’s also one of the oldest women to ever land a major fashion campaign. She managed to steal the spotlight from Karlie Kloss in Kate Spade‘s Spring 2015 ad, proving that age truly is just a number.


Andreja Pejić

Why You Need to Know Her: Andreja has a résumé a mile long, but her most notable feats include being the first transgender model to appear in Vogue and land a major beauty campaign for Make Up For Ever. After undergoing sex reassignment surgery (also known as gender confirmation surgery), she walked in the Giles Fall 2015 show during London’s Fashion Week.

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