How celebrities-turned-designers are leading the way to true body positivity in fashion

How celebrities-turned-designers are leading the way to true body positivity in fashion
Tracee Ellis Ross’s JCPenney collection JCPenney
Tracee Ellis Ross’s JCPenney collection JCPenney

Designers are finally starting to take body positivity and diversity within fashion more seriously. This past Fashion Mo nth was proof alone, with more models of color and plus-size models walking than ever before. Shows like Chromat, Michael Kors and Anna Sui all had curve and plus-size models walk at New York Fashion Week, and designers like Christian Siriano and Prabal Gurung have gone so far as to collaborate with Lane Bryant to create plus-size collections of their own.

It’s felt, with each passing season, like we are amidst a body positivity revolution, thanks to progressive designers like Siriano and Gurung, while old guard brands like Chanel, Prada and Dior look to be standing by, uninterested. Now, as this conversation becomes even louder, a rather unlikely group of women are lending their voices and talents to promote body positivity within fashion: female celebrities.

Christian Siriano with models in his Siriano x Lane Bryant show
Christian Siriano with models in his Siriano x Lane Bryant show Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Just like Rihanna is now a progressive force within the beauty industry, launching Fenty Beauty with 40 foundation shades, female celebrities are taking the lead on body positivity and diversity in fashion, launching collections that go far into plus sizes and don’t make a big fuss about it.

The most recent example of this is Tracee Ellis Ross. Joining forces with JCPenney, Ross is launching a holiday capsule collection in November comprised of party dresses, wide-leg trousers and even a suit, all of which ranged from size small to 3X.

Tracee Ellis Ross’ JCPenney collection
Tracee Ellis Ross’ JCPenney collection JCPenney

“It’s been my lifelong dream to design a line of clothing to utilize my love of style and clothes and to create a collection accessible to everyone that empowers women to embrace their joyful spirit,” Ross said in a press release. “Each piece is timeless and versatile, classic but with flavor. They can be mixed and matched to create elegant looks for everybody and every body.”

Everybody and every body. As simple as that. The models chosen for her campaign too were diverse in race, age and size.

Tracee Ellis Ross’ JCPenney collection
Tracee Ellis Ross’ JCPenney collection JCPenney

It’s a similar story for actress Sofia Vergara. For her new subscription-based underwear company EBY, sizes go up to a 4X. For her campaign, models of various looks and proportions were used too.

“Nowadays, all women are embracing their bodies,” Vergara said in an interview with Mic. “We need to include everyone, embrace everyone. We wanted to fill the void. The reality is, the more sizes, the more women that can purchase this underwear and the better the business is for us, the more we can give back, the more women we can empower. It was the intelligent thing to do to include everyone.”

Models wearing EBY
Models wearing EBY EBY

Zendaya, who’s just 21, got the same memo about how to release a celebrity fashion brand too, last year. For Daya by Zendaya, sizes go from 0 to 22, pieces are often shown on models with various body types, and for some garments, models of multiple genders are used.

“Sizing was also important to me; I wanted to make sure that nobody felt alienated or felt like they weren’t thought about in the process of this brand,” Zendaya told Harper’s Bazaar. “I wanted to make sure that everyone felt included, which brings us to the gender neutral pieces — the idea of wearing what you want and whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident.”

Zendaya’s Daya by Zendaya
Zendaya’s Daya by Zendaya Daya by Zendaya

Even Khloé Kardashian, as problematic as she’s been, has understood the good that can come from keeping things size-inclusive when you’re a celebrity launching a fashion brand. For Good American, her denim line, sizes range from 0 to 24, with no distinction as one size being a “plus size,” which Zendaya’s accomplished too. Again, Kardashian’s models on the site are various sizes, shapes and even heights.

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With all of these examples in mind, we ask a question: If Tracee Ellis Ross, Sofia Vergara, Zendaya and Khloé Kardashian can all understand designing for a wide array of women is a good idea, then why can’t some of the most powerful designers in the world?

It’s like celebrities more easily understand that who they’re designing for — their fans — aren’t all a size 2, while some very powerful designers are still grappling with this idea that their customers — women around the world — might be a size 12 or larger.

But maybe designers do know this. Maybe they know that to cater to the most women on earth, they should provide clothes in a size 12 or larger. They’re not dumb. They’re businesspeople. So maybe the difference between these celebrity clothing lines and designer collections from labels like Dior and Prada and Chanel is that they’re trying to cater to completely different people. These celebrities know that their fans are their customers. If a fan goes to buy something from, say, Zendaya’s line, they are buying into Zendaya’s lifestyle. Zendaya is a relatable, open celebrity who champions causes like diversity and connects with her fans on a daily basis, so why shouldn’t her clothing be available to as many of her fans as possible and also relay her message of the power of diversity?

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It’s just good business.

For designers with high-fashion brands though, they’re not necessarily about relatability and accessibility. They’re not online retailers or selling collections at JCPenney. Their brand is based on this level of exclusivity that makes catering to the most women on earth absolutely not a priority at all. It’s just not part of their brand, and there’s nothing wrong with having a brand that really is only attractive and available to one kind of woman. That’s just their thing.

If things continue as they are now, female celebrities-turned-designers are on a track to become leaders of body positivity and inclusivity in fashion, way before some of fashion’s biggest names get the memo.