A move to champion inclusion and diversity on the catwalk will culminate this week in a wide-ranging casting call for NZ Fashion Week models.
International fashion events can be perceived as elitist and exclusionary, but the premier fashion week's founder Dame Pieter Stewart said the call included for age and size diversity, including what is known in the industry as "non-straight size models" — where the top and bottom clothes worn are not the same size.
Both she and designers wanted a diverse range of models at this year's event, which begins on August 26.
"Everybody should be able to have a go ... it's very important to put more emphasis on diversity.
"A lot of designers are wanting to have different types of models."
This included a wide range of ages, body types, ethnicities and gender identities.
Designers showcasing this year also included a non-binary designer, a transgender designer and a designer of gender-neutral clothing, and a Diversity Conversation Seminar was also planned, to champion diversity in the industry.
And in a partnership with not-for-profit Dance for Abilities, Fashion Week would end with a catwalk show — Living Colour — where 15 models with intellectual disabilities would show garments from various top designers.
Fashion had always had diversity, Dame Pieter said.
"We've always had an interesting spectrum of people ... for years we've had transgender [models] and all different races."
The casting call was planned in Auckland for next Saturday, where designers would chose who would wear their pieces. For models' own protection, they should go through a modelling agency to take part in the casting call, she said.
Model Te Manahou MacKay will be among those at Saturday's casting call, with MacKay already contracted to walk at Fashion Week for other labels she has worked with since she became the first trans woman to walk at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2017.
The industry was "very inclusive here" and she encouraged anyone who feared they didn't fit a pre-conceived mould of what modelling was to have a go.
"The key to unlocking any path is going in with confidence."
MacKay said she knew of another model who is transgender walking at Fashion Week since 2017, part of a continuing change she'd seen in the industry.
"I think modelling has gone from just beautiful girls, who no one knows their names, to more of a [whole] person. People don't just want to see skinny girls in clothing any more. People want to see someone you can resonate with."
All is for All co-founder Grace Stratton said the agency would be bringing 12 models with access needs to Saturday's casting. All is for All is a social change agency which uses fashion to make society more accessible for people with disabilities.
Diversity in fashion was about striking a balance between high fashion and meeting the needs of everyone, Stratton said.
"We are still producing the highest quality imagery that can be produced, but we're producing in a way that is diverse ... for all different people who love and experience fashion."