Plus-size fashion designer Monif Clarke launched her latest swimwear collection recently and if you’re familiar with her brand, you know it was full of vibrant, curve-hugging pieces that have plus-size fashionistas wanting to buy each and every one. Monif C., as she is known to the industry by her brand name, has always been vocal about using women of color and visibly plus-size models in her campaigns and imagery.
“The new Monif C. Swim Collection is designed for the sexy, confident plus-size woman who embraces her curves and is a head-turning trend-setter. The first style in the collection (Guyana) launched for pre-order in early January, and we will continue to release new styles in the coming weeks.”
The plus-size modeling industry is competitive and if you are a larger model, it’s much more challenging. While plus-size brands sell to the plus-size customer (sizes 12 – 36), the marketing from most brands and designers leaves a lot to be desired. Campaign models typically range between size 8/10 to 12/14 with very few 16/18 models ever being given opportunities. So when Monif C. released her Guyana Swim Collection, we were not surprised to see two beautiful “visibly” plus-size models featured as the faces of this campaign: Kris Yao (our July 2014 cover model) and Olivia Campbell, who was flown from the UK for the photo shoot.
When we asked Monif C. about her choice of using visibly plus size models, she said:
“As a plus-size woman myself, I understand the importance of using real-size models to paint an accurate picture of how clothes will fit. I started Monif C. in 2005 to address my own frustrations within the women’s plus-size fashion industry; one of which was the use of smaller models in advertisements for plus-size apparel. Personally, when shopping, I want to see how clothes fit on someone my size and I know that many of my customers feel the same way.”
“Monif C. styles are available for women sizes 14-24, so our beautiful models always have been, and always will be, comfortably within that size range.”
Our Editor-in-Chief Madeline Jones had the opportunity to chat with one of the models shown in the new Monif C. swim collection, the beautiful and exotic Olivia Campbell. The interview was a great way to hear Olivia’s thoughts on modeling for Monif C. and being a size 18+ plus in today’s plus-size industry.
Madeline Jones: We have always been big fans of your work. Can you tell us about how you felt being contacted by Monif C. about this awesome opportunity?
Olivia Campbell: It was such an incredible feeling, I have always been a huge fan of Monif C. so I was over the moon when she contacted me.
Madeline: The shoot was really sexy… how does it feel to be an 18+ model doing a swim campaign for one of the hottest plus-size fashion designers in the industry?
Olivia: I love doing swim and lingerie because I love my body and I’m proud of every curve, so I always relish the chance to show off my gloriously thunderous thighs.
Madeline: You have an impressive following of plus-size women on social media. You shared with me over dinner some of the comments you receive when the women see your images. Can you share one or two of the most memorable ones?
Olivia: I get so many wonderful and empowering messages and comments on my social media and each one means so much to me that I don’t really have a most memorable one but I picked some randomly:
Madeline: In your opinion, why is it so important for plus-size women and young girls to be marketed to properly?
Olivia: I think it is incredibly important on so many levels. The way companies market to us actually has a big impact on the way we view ourselves so, for instance, when a brand launches its new plus-size line and its awash with beige tents, what that brand is actually telling us is that we are too fat to even bother to tailor fashionable clothes around our curves. And when a brand uses a ‘plus-size model’ that is a U.S. size 8 for a clothing line that starts at a size 14, what it is telling us is that they still see ‘fat’ as ugly because they assume we won’t buy the clothes of a size 14+ model. The problem this perpetuates for me personally is that when I am made to feel bad about what I look like on the outside, I am far less inclined to care about how my body is feeling inside. Both health and confidence are extremely important and they truly go hand in hand so when marketed to correctly, we, as a group, not only feel better about ourselves but we actually treat our bodies better.
Madeline: What do you say to those that say that “bigger” plus-size models do not sell or market well to plus-size customers?
Olivia: I personally think it’s a load of rubbish. As a plus-size consumer myself, I feel the customer is crying out to see bigger models because it gives us a better idea of what the clothes will look like on us. I actually find it quite insulting as a consumer when brands whose plus-size range start at a size 14, use size 10 models with padding instead of hiring larger models such as myself that actually fit their clothes.
Madeline: What are your tips for plus-size aspiring models?
Olivia: Work, work, work! The plus-size industry is just as cut-throat as the straight-size model industry. If you don’t put in 100% on every job that you do, they will just get someone to replace you. And always be polite and on time.
Want to learn more about plus size model Olivia Campbell? You can follow Olivia on social media: