Major agency IMG Models has introduced a new plus-size men’s division called ‘Brawn’ which sparks significant changes in the fashion industry. Vv Magazine’s Ama Scriver dives into how the division and Zach Miko are diversifying an industry that has failed plus-size men in the past.
In mid-March, top modelling agency IMG announced that it would be signing Zach Miko to their brand new ‘Brawn’ division, solely dedicated to plus-size men. The division seems like a natural expansion for the modelling agency, as the plus-size and body positive movement seem to be taking the fashion industry head on with models Tess Holliday (size 22) and Ashley Graham (size 18/16) leading the pack.
Though there has been an uptick in the body positivity movement, in the last year alone with its advancement into mainstream media, many have taken a critical view and stance on the gaps and holes that are missing from the so-called ‘progressive’ body positive movement. While it would be remiss not to recognize how far the movement has come, the conversation has largely left out voices and images of plus-sized disabled, trans, people of colour and well – male bodies. It’s important to remember and realize: body positivity is for all bodies and as we take the movement further into mainstream, we need to remember to continue to represent all bodies, not just white, able-bodied, female bodies.
This is one of the reasons why IMG’s Brawn division is so significant. It wasn’t so much the actual signing of Miko (who has a has a 42-inch waist and wears a size XXL), it was the impact and creation of the Brawn division alone. For too long now, plus-size men have dealt with a fashion industry that has failed them with retailers who do not make clothing available to them (designer or otherwise) and mainstream media who have not showcased plus-size men in campaigns, print or online.
When representation finally seemed to be making its way into the mainstream, American Eagle Outfitters launched a new body-positive campaign for men called #AerieMAN on April 1st that was apparently all a huge ruse. In a time when more and more men are reporting their own eating disorders and admitting their own body image issues (with weight and physique) at record rates, American Eagle took it upon themselves to make body image and body positivity into a huge joke. For years, companies have been advertising body positive messages through advertising means to get consumers through the doors, but what has really angered people is that the models involved in the campaign, including body-image activist and blogger Kelvin of Notoriously Dapper, were unaware #AerieMAN was an elaborate April Fool’s joke.
Already worldwide, there are many plus-size male fashion bloggers and influencers such as Dom Clark of It’s Dom Clark or Marquis Neal or Michael-Anthony Spearman of The Big Fashion Guy – who have been advocating and pushing for accurate representation in mainstream menswear. While this is only the beginning of a significant cultural shift, it will be interesting to stand back and watch what IMG does with their new Brawn division and slowly watch the changes that unfold in the menswear fashion industry.
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