Honestly, it’s getting really redundant for me to keep repeating that there is not enough plus-sized visibility in fashion market. Visibility in advertising translates to validation of existence for fringe groups who are normally not represented accurately in the media. That’s why it’s important that all bodies are represented in fashion advertising. If we were to draw conclusions about what the average woman looks like just from fashion editorials and runway shows, fat women would not even exist. Let’s be real: any woman not white, tall, thin, and able-bodied does not exist according to mainstream fashion representations. Just writing this makes me tired and frustrated because it’s been said a million times before not only by me and the girls at BUST, but also other smart fashion bloggers, plus-sized people, and all feminists alike.
Finally, in the 21st century, designers are hearing our grievances and doing something about it. Here’s a list of five designers/retailers that are including plus-sized models in their media campaigns. I could only come up with five, but baby steps, I guess. If I missed a designer/brand who is including bigger women in their advertising, leave it in the comments below!
1. Marina Rinaldi
MaxMara, an Italian fashion house that owns 35 different labels, is probably known for its Marina Rinaldi label. It’s exclusively for plus-size women, but it makes this list because they pioneered plus-size advertising when it was virtually non-existent. I don’t see many retailers that cater to the plus-size market advertise in the same way designers for smaller-sized women do. This could be because of lack of funds, an untapped market, or simply the desire to keep the status quo. But, it’s nice to see Marina Rinaldi compete for space in the fashion media world.
2. Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren, positioned as conservative and timeless high-end luxury, dared to step out of their traditional image by casting Aussie plus-size model Robyn Lawley as their first plus size campaign model. Lawley has spoken out herself about media influence on body image in her essay “Why the Dangerous ‘Thigh Gap’ Trend Makes Me Mad” after a picture of her in lingerie appeared on a thinspiration Facebook page. Models like Lawley are important game-changers to the industry because they not only represent a body outside of the haute couture norm, but have something to say about it too.
3. Isabel Toledo
Lane Bryant, a staple retailer for many plus-sized women, recently teamed up with designer Isabel Toledo for a special capsule collection that’s a bit more upscale than their permanent collection. Teaming up with Toledo, who has designed dresses for First Lady Michelle Obama and whose designs are usually carried by Bergdorf Goodman, meant something other than the usual collaboration between designer and mass retailer. This was much bigger. There was a fashion show that featured editors from fashion magazines such as Vogue and Glamour, a promotional video was released, and the collection itself featured Toledo’s signature prints and shapes. Usually, we see plus-sized designers making basics and mundanely conservative clothing that seems to exist in a style vacuum, but this collection nodded to the fact that plus-sized women want it all: the prints, the patterns, the shapes, the accessories, the colors that their smaller counterparts have.
We all clapped when lingerie and loungewear retailer, Aerie, declared that they would no longer retouch their models for any reason. Still, there was criticism that the models still did not fully represent the body spectrum, but model Amber Tolliver was a win on the plus-size front. She modeled for Aerie’s “The Real You is Sexy” campaign and looks bangin in her mintgreen lingerie. No Photoshop is a step in the right direction, but it was so important to see that Aerie was including bigger women when they said that every body is beautiful.
5. Tom Ford
Tom Ford, the fashion designer and film director that’s been on everyone’s lips including Jay-Z’s, did an editorial spread for CR Fashion Book called “Flowers For Fernando” featuring plus-sized model Candice Huffine. Alongside other big name models like Daphne Groeneveld, Huffine dominates her space in a red beaded top and sparkly Tom Ford clutch. She is not pushed into the background or put in a less dazzling emsemble. Plus size is moving into the mainstream space…literally.
Photos courtesy of Marina Rinaldi, The Daily News, Lane Bryant, Elle Magazine, and CR Fashion Book.