Why 2015 Was the Most Important Year Ever for Plus-Size Fashion

Style, of course, is chic at every size. And while, we’ve known and believed that for years, it was this year that the fashion industry put the maxim into action. From bold ad campaigns to outspoken models in the field, such as Ashley Graham and Georgia Pratt, the annals of fashion history will mark 2015 as the year where plus-size fashion stopped being minimized and pushed to the back seat. Instead, the twelve months we’re wrapping up could be the ones where people started paying attention, models began speaking up, and the industry became a force to be reckoned with.

“It’s great when we can be included in conversations and questions that go beyond positive body image,” Pratt told us about her experience working in fashion. “The conversation needs to start opening up and approaching people such as designers, editors, photographers, and other creative decision makers and influencers of the fashion industry.”


Ashley Nell Tipton’s winning final collection at Project Runway

The world took notice.
Project Runway made the news when its season 14 winner was a plus-size designer. It wasn’t a little fact-about-me tidbit either; Ashley Nell Tipton’s major collection for the show’s finale was for plus-size women. “It’s nice to see how much the mainstream fashion community has been so accepting of it,” Tiptop told Skorch magazine. “It’s very exciting to see that folks finally want to make plus-size mainstream.”

Meanwhile, at Victoria’s Secret, a reporter broached the subject of why no plus-size babes have worked for VS with the some Angels, and the responses were promising and girl-power steeped: “We don’t know, [but] I really hope so,” Elsa Hosk said.
“I think the whole world is more open to plus-size, and I am sure at some point they will be ready for it,” Jac Jagaciak added.


Ashley Graham’s lingerie collection with Addition Elle

New retailers surfaced.
While shoppers could always find a store dedicated to a wide range of styles, they couldn’t necessarily find two. That seriously changed in 2015, with familiar names entering the space, and brands that had previously been chided by the curvy community actually doing something about the critiques. For the former: Melissa McCarthy proved she has serious fashion chops with the debut of Melissa McCarthy Seven7 (it looks amazing on), plus-size model Ashley Graham brought her lingerie range to the U.S., and musician (and fashion favorite) Beth Ditto announced a forthcoming range with a t-shirt collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier.


Lane Bryant’s #ImNoAngel campaign

Influential brands responded.
Established brands like Lane Bryant upped the ante too. The mall staple revealed a stunning black-and-white campaign shot by Cass Bird and featuring the field’s current stars (think the aforementioned Graham, Marquita Pring, Candice Huffine, and Justine Legault). If the resulting pictures look more high fashion than usual for the brand, it’s no wonder: The advertising agency used has previously done work for Tom Ford and Chloé.

Brands listened to shoppers, too. Target’s response to a blogger’s slam about the lack of plus-sizing from its designer collaborations was twofold. The Lilly Pulitzer collection was available in extended sizing, and a brand-new range was introduced. Ava & Viv is being designed by an in-house team, sells in physical stores, and is set to stay under the $100 mark. Online, ModCloth took strides to make all sizes fit neatly together; rather than broadcasting a dedicated plus section, they re-worked the site to present all sizes together.


A look from Target’s Ava & Viv line

Curves were celebrated.
In a Glamour conversation about questions plus-size models are tired of hearing, Gia Genevieve got real.

“Plus-size models should be shown in a glamorous way. I don’t see a lot of plus-size models being shown in a very sexy way, and we are very sexy,” she said. “[What] I’m pushing for is that there needs to be more glamour in plus-size modeling—and less toned-down, commercial [shots].”

Well, the needle is certainly moving in that direction. The news that Sports Illustrated was including plus-size models in its annual swimsuit edition (via both editorial and advertising) was major enough to rank as one of our top news stories of the year. And for its 2015 edition, the iconic Pirelli calendar included a pretty steamy shot of Candice Huffine.

“I feel like I’m quietly doing something,” she said. “It’s almost become the new normal.”


Candice Huffine, far right, posing with fellow Pirelli bombshells Gigi Hadid and Karen Elson

There’s a lot of good stuff that happened this year, but we’re not totally at the finish line. What is the industry hoping to accomplish in 2016?

“We’ve got everyone else working with curvy models. It’s the designers that need to take the next step,” model Marquita Pring told us earlier this year. “It’s a matter of them being receptive of us, changing their traditional mindsets, and making another sample size.”

“We’re going to make them a billion dollars with our size,” model Julie Henderson added. “Their customers are women who will look at me and say, ‘I can relate to her and I can wear that dress.’ And those dresses would sell out faster than anything.”


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