In their bi-annual Runway Diversity Report, The Fashion Spot reported that the Spring 2019 runways hit record highs for diversity in every one of the categories (race, age, size, and gender) examined. That’s no small feat for the fashion industry, but it doesn’t mean our work here is over. Younger brands like Chromat, Eckhaus Latta, Linder, and Sies Marjan were expected to—and did—deliver racially and gender-diverse runways. And though many established labels accounted for one-fourth of casting models of color, how statement-making is doing the bare minimum?
Work-in-progress aside, there were a few new faces that took over the scene this year with their stances on important issues both in and beyond the fashion community. Whether pushing the boundaries of body positivity, redefining traditional beauty standards, or using their platform for philanthropy, more often than, these models challenged the status quo. New to the scene, fashion veteran, or in between, below are the ten faces that dominated 2018.
An advocate for individuality, Adesuwa Aighewi—and her dreads—proved that being yourself is always the way to go. The Nigerian-Chinese model took the runways by storm with her inimitable look, making her one of the most booked models of 2018. Also of note is her killer street style, replete with red cowboy boots, tracksuits, and mini leather shorts. It’s a vibe.
“I know I’m different, I know my facial features are different, but to me that’s beauty,” the 19-year-old South Sudanese model told Dazed earlier this year. Her features—the color-changing whites of her eyes (a by-product of a genetic disorder) and a deep scar across her cheek (from tree-climbing and chasing chickens as a child)—have set her apart from the typical fashion set, and always cue a question. But Chuol doesn’t want her look to be her only focus—she’s finishing a dual degree in politics and psychology and hopes to one day be the first female president of Sudan.
The 26-year-old influencer and model has been on our radars for a few years, followed for her streetside aesthetic and down-to-earth commentary as an advocate for women of color, plus-size girls, and inclusive casting. But it was just this year that Paloma really blew up, walking for brands like Eckhaus Latta and Sandy Liang to starring in editorials with Ashley Graham for V magazine. As one in five members of the International Girl Crew, Elsesser ’s also worked on projects with companies like Nike and Glossier. In an industry built to inspire envy, she’s refreshingly relatable.
Maxim Magnus first grabbed our attention as the crystal-decked beauty in Gucci’s second installment of Summer of Love. At only 20 years old, the Belgian model is using her platform to stand up for #transisnotatrend, advocating for the trans community and reminding the industry that their identities are not a passing fad. We love Magnus’ willingness to challenge female beauty standards (with her recently shaved head) and open up discussion for a more inclusive world. And we have a feeling that she’s just getting started.
She starred in one of our favorite campaigns of the year and collaborated on a shoe collection with Jeffrey Campbell. 22-year old model and yet-to-be fashion designer La’Shaunae Steward is a face you’ll be seeing everywhere soon. She promotes self-love, inclusivity, and the belief that anything is possible if you’ll let it. Her rise to prominence is a reminder to the modeling industry that everyone should have a seat at the table.
Chances are you’ll recognize Maeve Marshall and her sprinkling of dark, maroon-y freckles from her campaigns for Adidas. Or maybe from runways like Jacquemus and Jil Sander. Or maybe you’ve seen her face pop up on your Insta-feed. The 24-year old Parisian model is more than just a pretty face: Her freckles are the result of treatment for a stroke, an allergic reaction that caused second degree burns on her face. The ‘new look’ took some time getting used to, but after being signed to Heroes, the work – and her self confidence – picked up from there. She’s got the story and the face and is setting the pace for a new set of beauty standards within the industry.