On Friday afternoon at New York Fashion Week, Chromat did it again, sending models of all different shapes and sizes down the runway — and did it without making a big fuss.
Some of the models had walked for the sportswear and athletic designer before, including Lauren Wasser, who lost her leg to toxic shock syndrome in 2012. She made her fashion week debut at Chromat's show in February.
Chromat prides itself on being innovative, having sent light-up clothing and a bra that prevents sweating down the runway in the past. But perhaps the brand's most stunning accomplishment is bringing models who don't fit into the typical model norm — tall, thin, white, cis, able-bodied — into the mainstream fold.
"Becca [McCharen, Chromat's founder and designer] speaks to the future, so it's easy for someone like me to believe in her because she believes in me," Wasser previously told Mic. "I feel honored to be a part of this brand. Plus it's awesome to grow alongside someone."
But this year, Chromat seemed to make a concerted effort not only to bring those women back, but to introduce its audience to the next wave of models that are trying to change the model standard.
For instance, there were several models that aren't sample size that made their NYFW debut at the Chromat show, like Diana Veras, Iskra Lawrence, a regular Aerie model who runs the body positivity website RunwayRiot, Yvonne Simone and Victoria Gomez.
"I'm so grateful for this opportunity, being as that I've been dreaming about walking in fashion week since I was like 10," Gomez wrote on Instagram prior to the show. "But I'm most proud of doing this as a woman that has embraced her body 100% and has not conformed to [society's] standards of a typical runway model."
And then there were several transgender models. In years past, Chromat had brought in models like Isis King, who made history as America's Next Top Model's first transgender contestant and Juliana Huxtable, a notable artist and DJ. This year, Carmen Carrera, who had appeared in Chromat's show at Swim Week in Miami but never in a Chromat New York show previously, opened the show.
"When Fashion Week comes around you deal with a lot of douchey casting people that really don't respect trans people and see trans as a trend," Monès previously told Mic. "You walk into a casting and they're kind of giving you an eye already without even meeting you. That's frustrating to just have to take and not go off on them, because you want the gig."
Clearly, through their continued commitment to diversifying their runway, Chromat has proven trans is not just a trend.
Since the very beginning, Chromat's founder and designer Becca McCharen has taken inclusion seriously.
"As fashion designers, we have the power to highlight and celebrate beauty in all different forms," McCharen told Refinery29 in February. "For me personally, Chromat women are doing amazing things in all different fields and come from all different places. We wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate those women and have these incredible women reflected in our runway show."
In seasons past, Chromat has always been noted as one of the most diverse (if not the most diverse) shows at New York Fashion Week, bringing in a majority of models of color, as well as models of various shapes and sizes. And this year was no different, bringing in new names and fresh faces to further Chromat's mission of showcasing all types of women.
So whether other designers like it or not, Chromat is setting the standard for what diversity in fashion can really look like.
The results? Cool as hell.