It’s about damn time.
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when unless you happened to wear the smallest size offered in a retailers’ given size range, you could expect to never see the clothing shown on a person who looked like you. It was a standard practice that advertisements only feature women who were viewed as “aspirational.”
Growing up as a plus-size teen, fashion was my means for personal liberation from what people thought about both me and my body. So, the idea that the fashion industry itself is based around fitting into a certain ideal has never been my reality. Over the past few years, thanks to the work of independent designers, plus size bloggers, and size acceptance and fat positive activists, there’s been a shift in the representation we are seeing—particularly in plus-size fashion.
Thankfully, we are starting to see more campaigns featuring models who are a reflection of a brand’s diverse customer base. Rather than replicating an accepted beauty standard, models—many of whom are plus-size bloggers—are showing a more inclusive picture of beauty. Also, the range in body types and sizes gives customers a better idea of how certain pieces will fit on them.
Over the past few weeks, the plus-size fashion industry launched three major mainstream campaigns featuring women over a size 18. As someone who is a size 18+, I look at these images and see progress. While there have been others—and hopefully more in the near future—here are three campaigns that are totally killing it right now.
Ashley Stewart’s Extended Size Campaign
Back in March 2016, retailer Ashley Stewart launched its extended dress size range and corresponding campaign. In early August, the brand expanded their extended size offerings to include woven tops, bottoms, denim and blazers in sizes 28, 30, and 32. The collection features a mix of polished, sexy and professional plus-size apparel that Ashley Stewart is known for.
In addition, Ashley Stewart released a blog campaign featuring plus-influencers Essie Golden of EssieGolden.com, Beck Delude of Manfattan, Alissa Wilson of Stylish Curves, and Farrah Estrella of Estrella Fashion Report. The images showed the bloggers in crop tops, strapless dresses, fitted jeans and bold printed dresses?—?styles not often available in sizes 24+.
Estrella shared her thoughts on the Ashley Stewart campaign on her blog saying, “Let’s celebrate diversity, let’s for once and for all, give the respect and accolades to bloggers that they deserve for changing the industry and being a positive influence and finally, let me just say: We (Plus size people). are not a fad or a trend, we have always been here…the rest of the world is just catching up to us.”
Fashion to Figure’s #HowWeDoDenim Campaign
Figure tapped into digital influencers who they’ve dubbed as plus-size fashion’s “It Girls”: Sarah Rae Vargas of Ravings by Rae, Nicole Simone of Curves on A Budget, Francis Dive of You, Me, & Fashion, Essie Golden, and Denise Mercedes. The group of bloggers represents a range of different sizes and heights, yet they are all wearing the same look to showcase how these jeans fit all shapes and sizes.
Fashion to Figure’s denim line is available in sizes 12–26 in a variety of washes, colors, styles, and lengths. The line is focused on both fit and stretch. I had a chance to try these out and they fit like a glove?—?a feat that is nearly impossible due to the difference in proportion between my waist and hips.
“This campaign shows off how girls ‘in the know’ select and style denim,” shares Michael Kaplan, Co-Founder and CEO of Fashion to Figure in a press release on the campaign. “Fashion, fit, quality and price is a winning combination and we’ve definitely achieved that with this collection.”
Torrid’s #InMyJeans Denim Campaign
In late July, Torrid revealed its newest denim campaign, #InMyJeans, featuring 11 women wearing a different style of Torrid jeans within the size range of 10–30. The campaign included “Orange Is The New Black” actress Adrienne C. Moore, models Philomena Kwao and Georgina Burke, plus-size bloggers Anna O’Brien of Glitter + Lazers and Allison Teng of Curvy Girl Chic, and even Torrid customers and employees.
Torrid’s denim selection includes everything from bootcut jeans and flares to jeggings and skinnies. In addition to the visual campaign, each women was featured in their own YouTube video highlighting the fit of their jeans.
“There are so many things I love about this campaign, but my favorite part is that it so very accurately captures the essence of this brand and how we work and approach product, we are about fitting, flattering and celebrating ALL of our customers and we understand that they are all different,” says Liz Munoz, Torrid SVP of Product.
The fact that these three campaigns came out within weeks of each other is certainly a sign of progress in an industry that has been traditionally slow to change. I look at these campaigns and I see a customer focus. I see bodies that are not hourglass shaped and women that aren’t all white. And while I would still love to see more representation for sizes 28+, I think these campaigns are a great start towards highlighting the wide range of people who are worthy of place in fashion.