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Editor’s letter: The Fashion Quarterly ‘Empowerment’ Issue

23 August 2021

Read editor Nicole Saunder's thoughts on fashion & empowerment, embracing our measurements, and more.

WORDS BY Fashion Quarterly New Zealand

When we decided to ask some of Fashion Quarterly’s spring issue contributors what it means to feel—and be—truly empowered, I pondered how I would answer that question myself. Empowerment is an undeniably loaded word, particularly when a fashion lens is applied to it— as our fashion director, Danielle Clausen discusses in her feature Power Play on page 52. For some brands, it has become merely a buzzword—a way to tap into the next-generation consumer who wants to invest in brands with philosophies that mirror their own. Unfortunately, as much as we expect the brands we consume to take a stand on social issues and answer our demands for a more inclusive industry, it’s often hard to separate fact from fiction and genuine change from not-so-subtle marketing tactics. 

With this thought in mind, it was very timely that a week before sending the empowerment issue of Fashion Quarterly to print, an intriguing email landed in my inbox. The subject line­—which read BUST 105 | WAIST 92 | HIP 112 | CUP 12G—naturally piqued my curiosity. The sender was one of my favourite homegrown fashion labels, Ruby. The contents were something I wish more of us felt empowered to discuss. Within the email, Ruby general manager Emily Miller-Sharma announced Liam and Ruby’s move to more inclusive sizing for their off-the-rack pieces (you can read more about this in Clausen’s feature). But that wasn’t all the email contained. In what many would agree was a brave move, it also included Miller-Sharma’s body measurements­—and how to take your own measurements properly.  

It’s pure coincidence that the dress worn on the cover by the gorgeous Maia Cotton is one of Ruby’s creations—which can now be pre-ordered in size 4 to 20. Despite loving the dress since first laying eyes on it, I’ve ummed and aahed over hitting add to cart. At 38-weeks pregnant I’m nervous — though managing editor Sarah Murray reassures me I shouldn’t be in her brilliant feature on navigating your sense of style once you become a mum on page 62—that pesky little size tag might not ‘bounce back’ to where it once was, and the floral-printed silk might cling to new lumps and bumps.

While I feel somewhat silly writing this, I know I’m not alone when I admit that going up a size when trying on new clothing feels like admitting defeat. For many women, the relationship we have with that number on clothing labels is a complicated one. Fortunately, Miller-Sharma’s email came at the right time to remind me that our measurements, our bodies, can and should be empowering. After all, for many of us, fashion—whether it makes a political statement or simply makes us feel damn good—and the way we dress our bodies is empowering too. 

The Fashion Quarterly spring 2021 issue is on sale in all good supermarkets and online at magstore.co.nz

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