The fashion industry isn’t necessarily known for being all-inclusive and accepting of every body type or hell, even race.
There’s a slow and steady grind to real change, and plus size models are finally getting their just due!
What the fashion industry consider plus size, many in the Black community see as normal, but anyway…popular Black plus size models like Liris Crosse, Chasity Saunders, Samantha Lebbie, Anita Marshall and Kori LeiLani are karate chopping barriers in the modeling industry and we’re here for it!
Tess Holliday changed the game when she was featured on the cover of People in June. Holliday, who isn’t shy about showing off her size 22 figure, found herself in a bit of hot water when she made the comment, “Black men love me!” because of her voluptuous figure.
Controversy aside, it’s become hard for brands to ignore plus size fever. Fruit of the Loom happens to be one of those brands and the undies master launched a new collection made exclusively for plus size women aptly titled “Fit For Me.”
Jawbreaker caught up with Fruit of the Loom’s “Fit For Me” collection ambassador Denise Caldwell who dispelled a few rampant myths about plus size fashion, the models and what’s next for the curvy community!
C: The beautiful things is that women come in all shapes, sizes and colors. How boring would it be if we ALL looked the same and dressed the same? In America over 50% of women are a size 14/16. Some may be petite in height or taller, so their plus size appearance may differ. In the fashion industry it mostly begins when the double number appears, but with retailers and brands who offer extended sizes a 14 is the most standard beginning with the plus size industry.
J: There’s a resistance by some plus size women to embrace shapewear, what do you say to this?
C: Regardless of your body type or size, proper undergarments are a necessity. As a fashion stylists when I work with celebrity clients or do makeovers and style segments on TV, I opt for foundations primarily that have full coverage and keep you smooth. Depending on your outfit, you won’t always wear the same style of underwear. You will need to switch it up! A woman should have an arsenal of underpinnings that includes great underwear, bras, hosiery and shape wear that won’t dig into your derriere or waist but compliments your figure and clothing. A fabulous outfit begins with what’s underneath!
Jawbreaker: Tell us more about Fruit of the Loom’s “Fit For Me” range and how the campaign is empowering plus size women.
Caldwell: I love that clothing brands are embracing and empowering women of all shapes and sizes through style and beauty! Body image and curves are such a hot topic, I think it’s great that now the plus community has their OWN underwear line made specifically for them. Fit for Me not only has stylish underwear options, but the style and fit range are very diverse. Sizes 9-13 which is 14 – 32 dress size and offers high-cut, brief, microfiber which is seamless and my favorite boxer brief in a variety of colors.
J: How do you advise plus size women to embrace their curves while maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
C: We are all a W.I.P. (work in progress), the key is to be your most fabulous self while working on the woman you want to become. Our physical appearance does not outweigh our mental courage or strength. Embrace your body and curves with the utmost confidence. It’s about accentuating the assets and body parts you love best and concealing the areas you are not as in love with. In the wardrobe department, always put your best fashion foot forward. Wear cuts and fabrics that are flattering to your figure and don’t be afraid of color. It makes you appear youthful and vibrant.
J: Tess Holliday covered People and is possibly the most recognized plus-size model right now. Which plus size models of color should be on mass market’s radar?
C: There are so many amazing women modeling in the plus industry. Some of the fresh faces that I have had the opportunity to work with and meet include: Clementine Desseaux, Justine Legault, Philomena Kwao, Ashley Graham, Anita Marshall, Denise Bidot and Robyn Lawley. I also love the curvy veteran models who have been around for numerous years that still hold court with fashion brands, but have become mentors to the newer girls. Namely, Sharon Quinn, Liris Crosse, Emme and Jordan Tesfay.
J: More high-end fashion designers are embracing plus sizes, which designers offers the best fit?
C: Some of my favorite plus size designers and brands include: Marina Rinaldi, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein White Label, DKNYC, Lafayette 148, Adrianna Papell and Tadashi Shoji. For the lower and bridge price points: Fashion to Figure, Land’s End, Ashley Stewart, Talbots, Rebdolls, and FullBeauty.com. Big box stores such as Kohl’s, Lord&Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom have also amped up their designers and plus floors with extended sizes. The curvy girls options for clothing are becoming endless.
J: Plus size modeling has come a long way, what advances do you predict in the next 10 years?
C: The key thing with modeling is the universal way of capturing beauty. All models regardless of size have to have a “look” to them regardless of size or skin color. There has to be a quirkiness, an oddness or classic beauty to them that makes an agency, editor or photographer gravitate toward them. The good thing is that the multi-billion dollar industry has various avenues such as commercial, catalog, digital, television, runway etc for models to expand their modeling careers. In the next 10 years, I’m optimistic the fashion and beauty industry will have evolved even more with women and men who represent all spectrums in life.