Plus-size fashion is more plentiful now than in the past, and a lot of it finally has pizzazz. But larger people who seek unique pieces—the kind that only vintage and small-run indie designers create—still don’t have a whole lot of options. Proud Mary (@proudmaryfashion on Instagram) has been filling that void for over a decade. Located in L.A.’s Highland Park neighborhood, the shop offers a vibrant array of curated vintage clothing and an exclusive in-house line of bold and babelicious pieces.
Owner Jessica Hinkle got into vintage through her grandmother, Mary.
“We were pretty poor, so my grandma used to take me thrifting a lot,” she says of her brand’s namesake. “Then, in my 20s, I got really into fat liberation and fat politics. I had always wanted to be a designer, so I was like, ‘How can I get in?’”
The answer was the Internet. In 2011, she began selling vintage pieces on Etsy and later adding wholesale items, which led to in-person shopping pop-ups. But issues with sourcing ethical clothing and a messy sizing structure made it difficult. “It was very exclusionary, and the clothes only went up to a 20, which doesn’t even fit me,” Hinkle laments. After learning what worked on her own body in terms of cuts, textures, and prints, she teamed up with a fashion student to produce original pieces, and in 2019, Hinkle opened the Highland Park shop.
“We want to play with different shapes and colors, and we want access to all the same things that everybody else does.”-Jessica Hinkle
Today, Proud Mary is a popular pit stop for fatshionistas from all around the globe. With attention-grabbing pieces from eras past hanging alongside new designs like sheer dusters, crochet bikini tops, and a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “FAT” that resembles the GAP logo, the store’s cheeky aesthetics and imagery create an inspiring shopping environment.
Though the word “fat” still has a mostly negative connotation in mainstream society, Hinkle uses it freely for a reason. “Tall, thin, short—they’re just descriptors,” she says. “Society puts you in this box and removing those connotations from the word gets us to a point where we dismantle fat phobia. People come in all shapes and sizes. The majority of people in this country are plus-size and we’re not a monolith. We want to play with different shapes and colors, and we want access to all the same things that everybody else does.”