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Jesinta Franklin and Pip Edwards push for more diversity at David Jones

Modelling is no longer about being lithe and lean, but unfortunately fashion still is.

However two women and a department store are trying to kick the industry into shape by casting athletic men and women for the upcoming David Jones summer showcase.

David Jones ambassador Jesinta Franklin and P.E Nation co-founder Pip Edwards joined Thelma McQuillan, the fashion director of JONES Magazine, the retailer’s inhouse publication, on the judging panel at Bondi on Thursday for the bi-annual fashion parade.

The brief sent to modelling agencies around the city was for models who lunge and laugh.

“Fashion should be all about being cool, sexy and having a great time, if you can’t do that then what’s the point,” McQuillan said. “This has been the best casting we’ve done.”

Franklin and Edwards – leaders of the local #fitspo movement – were impressed with the calibre of professional posers who turned out in droves in a bid to land a spot in the show that will feature swimwear and activewear.

“I am not a typical size six, heroin chic model, I never have been, so that fact I’m now getting to walk in these shows is a reflection that the industry is starting to embrace a diverse range of body sizes,” Franklin, who is also the face of a chocolate bar, said.

Franklin will be taking part in her fifth David Jones show in the coming weeks and in the lead-up has taken to Muay Thai – a combat sport – three times a week as well as ramping up her personal training sessions and boxing classes.

More than 100 hopefuls turned out to audition on the runway, many were new faces and many cames from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures. 

An element Edwards was impressed with.

“There was a lot of diversity, which I love. Short girls who had real muscle and taller girls with some serious definition,” Edwards said. 

While the David Jones shows usually highlights high-fashion designer gear and expensive evening wear, activewear – Sydney’s unofficial uniform – will take centre stage at the new season soiree. 

PE Nation as well as other local exercise wear brands like The Upside will grace the catwalk, a move which McQuillan contributes to the changing habits of the David Jones customer.

“Designer fashion is still very important to David Jones but being fit, healthy and confident is a way of life now, one that is all across social media as well so you can’t ignore it,” McQuillan said.

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