Plus Size Trailblazers… yes, 2019 was a phenomenal year for the plus-size industry when it came to more diversity and size inclusion.
From seeing visibly plus models (including those over a size 24) getting more exposure to size expansions and amazing brand collaborations, the plus-size industry continued to thrive and evolve, and the mainstream media took notice.
Most of all, we’re so inspired and empowered by those in the industry who use their platforms to spotlight important topics such as ageism, colorism, lack of representation and body positivity.
These 5 plus size trailblazers, in particular, took 2019 by storm and we can’t wait to see how they will kick off the new decade with their incredible platforms and businesses.
While 2018 appeared to be Malas’ year, 2019 really took her to levels that have established her permanently on the fashion scene.
She’s one of the few designers that creates clothing over a size 24 and is recognized by mainstream media for her detailed and fashion-forward designs. Her aesthetic is fun and confident where she pushes the message that not all plus size women want to hide their bodies.
She’s thoughtful when it comes to what fabrics, prints and silhouettes to use in collections, and is regularly influenced by art, music and the world around her. Her clothing is definitely created to make a statement where Malas uses Bolivian knits, Japanese cottons, and other fabrics you won’t find at any other plus-size label.
She uses visibly plus models on her website and regularly reposts images on social media of customers of varying sizes who wear her designs so confidently and boldly. With ethically made fashion becoming more front and center and more women investing in pieces that will last for multiple seasons, Malas is already ahead of the pack. We’re convinced she will lead in this space in 2020 and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
In 2018, when InStyle Magazine named Henry one of the fresh faces of plus-size modeling, we couldn’t help but ask out loud, “What took you so long?” Mainstream is catching on to what we’ve known for years. This stunning plus-size model is the real deal and 2019 was her year.
Henry is a beautiful chameleon, using fashion as a way to express her creativity and showcase high fashion on a plus body. Her fluidity in front of the camera shows how comfortable she’s in her body, all the while keeping her face flawless. And Henry is not just a print model. With a fierce walk and thick legs for days, she can walk a runway like it’s no one’s business, having done so at both NY Fashion Week and LA Fashion Week.
It is because of all these incredible things that Henry has worked for major brands such as JC Penney, Old Navy, Nike, and Urban Decay Cosmetics.
And that’s not all. She is also a mental health advocate who has produced body confidence workshops for children in New York City charter schools with a focus on self-love and respect. She has used her voice to speak on mental health in the fashion world and uses her platform to promote body confidence and self-love for all. We already know she has 2020 on lock for more incredible things… We can hear Paris Fashion Week calling. Yes, please.
O’Connor has been styling celebrities and plus-size models for years, most notably Tess Holliday and actresses Britney Young of “GLOW” and Adrienne Moore of “Orange is the New Black”. She has styled many PLUS Model Magazine cover/editorial shoots so we know firsthand how gifted she is in the art of styling a variety of body shapes and sizes.
2019 was definitely her year and boy, was she busy! This year saw O’Connor styling Holliday for Nylon’s July 2019 cover and then styling actresses Ashley Nicole Black of HBO’s ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’, Natasha Rothwell of HBO’s ‘Insecure’ and Punam Patel of Netflix’s ‘Special’ for numerous red carpet award events. She also worked with Adrienne Moore again, styling her for some prominent television events.
We don’t know how she finds the time to lounge on the beach, hang with her nieces, or revel in her love for Disney, but she does all of that with her infectious smile beaming. It truly shows us that she’s doing what she loves. And we can’t wait to see who she’ll style next in 2020.
Two years ago, blogger besties Lebron and Negron starting selling their gently worn clothing at home via Facebook LIVE in an effort to downsize their closets, having no idea what impact they were going to have in the plus-size resale apparel market.
In 2018, they expanded their business to sell clothing from other popular influencers, which brought them more customers of different sizes. BHCC has since become an online consignment marketplace dubbed the “Plus Size HSN”, which also offers a community for customers to engage with each other, seeking out style advice and building friendships along the way.
This year, the power duo launched their +style boxes containing pieces from various influencers in sizes 14 to 32, a licensed apparel collection and increased their monthly online sales to bi-weekly. We’re sure they will continue to revolutionize how plus size women shop in the virtual consignment space and can’t wait to see what they’ll do next in 2020.
Bigelow has been honoring women with her annual Lifestyled Honors event since 2014 and via her PHAT Girl Fresh brand. She uses her platform to promote self-love, confidence and body acceptance for all. Her brand has expanded over the years to include apparel, workshops and lifestyle content.
This year was major for Bigelow, who partnered with MadameNoire to launch CurvyNoire, a platform celebrating curvy Black women, who are often underrepresented within the fashion industry. CurvyNoire kicked off with an event during NY Fashion Week in September 2019, showcasing indie designers and plus size Black models, as well as a panel that discussed key topics that plus size women of color face in today’s world.
She’s closing the year with written articles for major media outlets such as Hello Beautiful and Fashionista.com, as well as just announcing the Lifestyled Honorees for 2020.
All of these trailblazers have us watching to see what they do next. We have a feeling 2020 is going to offer us so much more than 2019 and we’re here for ALL of it.