New York Fashion Week – A Celebration of Diversity (Feb. 8-16)

Despite the evident market opportunity, fashion has held its size-exclusive ground. But recently, designers have started to put their foot down, challenging the norm and demanding a safer space for all sizes. The recently concluded New York Fashion Week is a clear testament to that. 

At the helm of this change is 11 Honoré, an online retailer with the goal of filling the void of luxury apparel for plus size women. The brand had the honor of kicking off the fall 2019 season with a runway show that presented a diverse spectrum of full-figured models, decked head to toe in high fashion. It was the first show of its kind that featured a retailer instead of a brand, but we all know that’s not the most revolutionary thing about it.

Credit: Getty Images

Many of the models were under the IMG umbrella, including Tara Lynn, Precious Lee, and Candice Huffine, who opened the show to the girl power anthem “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” From start to finish, it was a breath of fresh air and positivity-fuelled jolt of energy in one. Closing the show was none other than trans actress Laverne Cox, who hair flipped down the runway in a stunning Zac Posen tulle gown. 

Credit: Getty Images

Cox has long been a stark advocate for inclusivity. For her, participating in the show was a way to hold up the banner for something she believed in, which is opening the luxury fashion market for all women of all sizes.

According to 11 Honoré CEO Patrick Herning, the diversity movement has also fostered a collaborative atmosphere, without which this progress would not be possible. Other brands like Shopify, Shopbop, Chantelle lingerie, and Bobbi Brown makeup all joined and contributed to the show’s success. 

Credit: Getty Images

“Everybody in retail should be looking at different ways in which to partner,” Herning told Glossy. “I’m super proud of the role we play: We’re breaking down the barriers. With Shopbop, it’s a retail-retail partnership! It’s like, ‘Who gives a sh*t? Let’s just all create some good.’”

True enough, real change doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and companies and consumers must work together to reform the entire fashion landscape. Online, we’re seeing people take to hashtags and social media to call out these age-old weight biases. One of these is the #EffYourBeautyStandards campaign, started by plus size model Tess Holliday, which currently has almost half a million Instagram followers. On top of this, body positive brands are also lending their voice. The idea that bigger bodies just don’t have a lot of style options is something that body positive site Woman Within’s wide range of midi dresses hopes to dispel. By providing more options, they’re making a new standard, inspiring other brands to do the same. These efforts are no doubt opening doors beyond the plus size market, with Tommy Hilfiger recently unveiling a collection designed for customers with disabilities

In an interview with Forbes, Herning has expressed his dedication to fighting the good fight, hopeful that he will be able to sustain this billion dollar business. “Plus is super polarizing,” he said. “Because you’re talking about a customer who’s historically been under-served, she’s been marginalized, she’s been left out of the conversation, and she’s not been invited to the proverbial table.” This time, she’s not only getting a seat at the table, but the best view in the house.