Traveling to New York Fashion Week, three years ago, as a budding fashion stylist was inspiring but very disappointing. I had a grandiose vision of attending several fashion shows that catered to plus size fashion and I was sure that I would leave New York City with new contacts in the growing industry, new vendors, and style inspiration that would make my new career choice a breeze. I quickly learned that, much to my demise, the deficit of plus fashion that I felt when I was shopping online or in my local shopping malls was a hard-hitting issue everywhere.
Besides the infamous 34th Street Macy’s entire floor of plus-sized shopping, there wasn’t a single NYFW event that catered to extended or plus sizes. How was this possible? For someone who wasn’t from New York, I always thought that The big Apple was the answer to anything fashion-related and that surely the concrete jungle catered to every woman, at ANY size.
Fast-forward three years later and, as a plus woman, I am beyond proud of what we’ve seen with the current New York Fashion Week. Over the past seven days, we’ve seen inclusive fashion on different body types on the runway that for the first time actually resemble real women. From curvy bombshells sitting front row to plus supermodels rocking the runway, this fall has undeniably opened doors for infinite possibilities in future fashion productions.
Let’s do a recap of some of the designers that decided to take a leap of faith while including women and men of all sizes in their Spring/Summer 2017 presentations:
1. Tracy Reese
We just don’t give African-American designer Tracy Reese enough credit for her accomplishments. While Reese has consistently managed to contribute to fashion since 1998, this fall she made headlines during her September 11th garden presentation (held at a Manhattan East Village cemetery!) by splitting her looks among sample sized models and by casting non-models who were not only working professionals but women of all sizes. Reese also announced that several pieces of her newest collection would cater to sizes 18 and 2XL.
Shown here to the far left is one of Reese’s non- models, comedienne & Saturday Night Live actress Sasheer Zamata.
Non-model Kristi Henderson is a director of special projects with Planned Parenthood. Henderson, a size 12/14, said that she considers Reese a trailblazer in fashion.
Another brand that decided to step outside the box with their Spring/Summer 2017 presentation was American retailer J. Crew. Known for their classic lines and for dressing the American family, J. Crew stepped outside the lines by casting friends, family, and employees of a diverse range of sizes and ethnicities.
Resolutely geared towards the consumer, J.Crew showcased how their crisp pieces, flirty skirts, striped dresses, and graphic tees would look on a regular day at the office.
We love it.
3. Christian Siriano
We can’t talk about inclusion without giving props to the designer who took the biggest chance, Christian Siriano. Casting five plus models without hesitation makes him my personal favorite this season. Since Siriano’s show last Saturday, he’s given countless interviews on his personal plight to dress real women and real bodies. In addition, Siriano released his newest collection with Lane Bryant.
At the beginning of the show, a voice over the loudspeaker declared, “This is all about body-positive inclusion…this is not a plus conversation, this is a woman’s conversation.” Let the church say Amen.
Swimwear brand Chromat featured a diverse cast of models for their Spring 2017, flaunting models both straight and plus sized, and of various ethnicities.
Not stopping there, they were bold enough to include models with handicaps. Activist Lauren Wasser, who lost her leg due to toxic shock syndrome, offset a bold blue rash guard swim ensemble with a golden prosthetic leg.
So, as we bid farewell to New York Fashion Week, what are your personal thoughts about the various changes we’ve seen in fashion representation?