Plus size fashion is on the move — on runways and in real life.
“Many brands and retailers finally figured out that the majority of women behind the dollars are of a certain size," says stylist Meaghan O’Connor, 34, of Atlantic Beach, who's also an Instagram influencer (@meaghanpoconnor). She was heartened to see a show of traditionally straight-size designers incorporating plus looks and models on the runways during New York Fashion Week — many for the first time.
“It was emotional because not only am I a plus size woman and have been for most of my life, but in a world in which I built my career, I’ve felt left out," O'Connor says. "There used to be no representation for us."
Many credit designer Christian Siriano for championing runway diversity and initiating the movement way back with his size inclusive collections. Plus turned up at Cushnie, a brand known for its sculptural, body-conscious silhouettes. Plus size models sauntered down the runway at Tadashi Shoji for the first time, although the designer has been doing self-described “queen” looks for more than two decades. Tommy Hilfiger, who has never shown plus sizes on his runway, incorporated plenty of them (his are called “Curve”) at his Tommy x Zendaya extravaganza in Paris earlier this month.
The plus boom is reverberating with models according to Allie Cresswell, owner of the Hampton Smith Agency in Smithtown. “We’re getting more calls, more emails and more bookings and people are embracing their curves,” she says.
Maria Mendez, 48, of Wading River, a plus model who has worked with Clairol, J.C. Penney and Bloomingdale’s says she relates to the change.
“I think people want to see something that is familiar. And I’m starting to see women who are built like me in advertising and it’s helped me gain confidence," she says. "It’s empowering.”
Plus model and Instagram influencer Tess Holiday (@tessholliday has 1.8 million followers) says she, too, is enthused by the changes unfolding. "But we still need diversity in campaigns, language and marketing," she says. "And we need diversity not just in the shows, but all year long.”