Style Uncompromised With BAACAL Designer and Founder Cynthia Vincent
In a world where the fashion industry has often adhered to rigid ideals of beauty, Cynthia Vincent stands as a trailblazer, challenging conventions and fostering a sense of belonging for individuals of all shapes and sizes.
Cynthia Vincent designs celebrate the beauty of diversity and cater to a wide range of body types, breaking free from the restrictive norms that have for so long defined the runway.
Get to know BAACAL Designer and Founder Cynthia Vincent…
Can you tell us about the ethos and inspiration behind your fashion brand? What drove you to create it, and what values does it represent?”
“Style Uncompromised” is the entire ethos of BAACAL distilled down to its core. Style, quality, thoughtful and sustainable.
Style is something you have or evolve as you better understand yourself. Clothing is one if the most powerful tools to express who you are and how you present yourself to the world.
Quality, Style and Sustainability are interconnected for me.
Beautifully made clothes can last a lifetime, if the design and style last past a trend cycle.
In a competitive market, what sets your brand apart from others in the plus-size fashion industry? How do you differentiate yourself, both in terms of style and messaging?”
BAACAL is really the first designer-led brand for Plus, Extended, and Curvy sizes.
As a CFDA Designer, I want to give more women the ability to wear clothes that fit and flatter. I don’t really know of another brand that is offering beautifully made, expertly fit clothes past a size 8 that are stylish enough to last for years not just a trend cycle. Especially not from a brand that is also concerned with ethical and sustainable practices.
Could you share some insights into the design philosophy of your brand? How do you ensure that your clothing not only looks great but also caters to the unique needs and preferences of plus-size individuals?”
The philosophy is: Modern wardrobe essentials mixed with the item of the season.
For me, it is important to see what is missing in the market and offer it to her. Items I too am often needing and wanting. When I first launched BAACAL it was December – and I wanted to prove a point so I offered Coats! I did that because I was always looking for a new coat in November- December and they were always gone by then. I realized I could not be the only person. My hunch paid off. We sold out. The Double-Breasted Car Coat, and in Spring the Trench coat, have been perennial sellouts for us every year since.
For BAACAL it’s about building an amazing wardrobe that you can pull from and always know you will look and feel good.
That’s the essentials like the Car Coat, our Tie Neck Dress or the Perfect White Shirt. It’s also items of the season that hit the trends while still being timeless. Like our iconic Joni Dress – which started as the Item of the Season, but now we do a few new cotton prints each year and our customers collect them. She does this because she knows whenever she reaches for it, she will feel fantastic.
Fashion is often about self-expression. How does your brand empower individuals to express themselves through their style, regardless of their size?”
I love fashion and trends and creativity. I think self-expression through clothing is not trivial. It is vital to our well-being.
When I am designing and creating a garment, the most important thing besides looking beautiful is how it feels. Because when you feel and look amazing it is empowering! We have all had those days when you have an amazing outfit on, but something is just not right. Then you are pulled out of the moment – forced to deal with a strap or adjust something. You just don’t feel great because it does not fit right.
As women past a size 10 we have been used to settling on fit, settling on what little choices were out there and being unable to fully express ourselves. There are so many brands and clothes out there – but not for women past a certain size.
Longevity and sustainability are important aspects of the fashion industry today. What are your long-term goals for the brand in terms of sustainability and ethical practices?”
When I decided to start again in this Industry I had to ask myself two very important questions: 1) Does anyone really need any more clothes; and How do we be more mindful of everything we put into this world?
The first question was answered with a resounding YES when I had my a-ha moment. I was not able to find anything to wear for a very important meeting with an Icon of fashion. After spending countless hours and many many try-ons later, I realized I could not find beautiful clothes for myself that were both well-made and stylish.
I knew I had to start a new brand for women who have been ignored in Fashion, we actually need clothes!
But what about the waste?
I had seen firsthand the enormous amount of waste in our industry and even resistance to just recycling
Thank goodness now almost everyone is aware. That said, BAACAL is made with a commitment to be 80% sustainable. We use upcycled materials, stock and deadstock fabric and trims. We source and produce the majority of what we offer locally and use women-owned small businesses that we pay a living wage to. We are committed to reducing waste wherever possible.
Could you elaborate on the size inclusivity of your brand? Who is your target audience, and how do you ensure that your clothing appeals to a diverse range of body types and tastes?”
I take great care to cross-fit on many different body types as I’m developing my designs. I also offer styles that fit in a certain way and use techniques that are size inclusive such as smocking and adjustability.
The BAACAL woman is anyone with a discerning taste who cares about quality. They are usually at a point in their style evolution that they want to build a wardrobe that will last for years to come.
When I decided to launch BAACAL I did my research to back up what I already knew – that larger women were being systematically ignored in designer and contemporary fashion. That the average American woman was a size 16/18. That size 10 and 12 were always the first to sell out in my past brands Vince and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent. Despite these fact, stores would not buy them. So, I took the majority size and went equally up and down the scale, creating our current 1-5 sizing.
Inclusivity and diversity have become central themes in fashion. How does your brand actively promote these values, both in your designs and in your marketing strategies?”
Inclusivity has been a part of my design ethos my entire career.
As a Latina woman, most people assume I am not. I have seen firsthand how most “other groups” have been ignored for far too long. It was important to me from day one to show diverse images of women that you do not normally see in fashion. That includes age, size and race.
Collaborations and partnerships can be powerful in the fashion industry. Have you collaborated with influencers or other brands to promote body positivity and inclusivity? If so, could you share some examples?”
We are always looking for new people and brands to collaborate with. Collaboration is the modern approach. One of the most amazing things that’s evolved in the last decade is the democratization of fashion- I love seeing how influencers we dress create their looks from our clothing. We try to fill as many requests as we can because BAACAL seems to be a favorite for fashion week content!
Body positivity is a key message in the plus-size fashion community. How does your brand contribute to this movement, and what initiatives have you undertaken to support and uplift plus-size individuals?”
While we participate in many local events here for our plus-size community, I think one thing that I really can do is help women learn to express themselves through clothing. There is starting to be a fantastic shift in the dialogue, and the resource of our communal voice is so powerful. I love seeing women of all ages being proud of their beautiful selves and remember that not so long ago those voices barely existed. Still, I hear so often “I can’t wear that” or “That’s not for me”- coming from a buried experience, and a place of shame or insecurity. I want to scrub that from our language. The reason many people feel they “can’t” is because they’ve been told that by the lack of options at stores; or by trying designs that aren’t properly constructed for our beautiful shapes. I speak through my design and want to embrace and empower our community in the best ways possible.
Could you describe a memorable success story or transformation that one of your customers experienced through your brand? How does this reflect the impact of your clothing and message?”
I am very fortunate to have customers who share how much they love the brand with me once they discover it. One that really touched me was a woman who had not purchased a single item of clothing for herself in 18 years! Because she had given up on fashion! She purchased our Joni dress to wear to her son’s wedding with the hopes of having something appropriate.
She shared with me how my dress helped her look and feel amazing at the event and how beautiful she felt. Not only did she get compliments all night (she was the mother of the Groom after all) but when 3 total strangers complimented her on her dress. She thanked me for making a dress that could make her feel truly beautiful for the first time in decades.
Looking ahead, what exciting developments or collections can your customers look forward to from your brand in the near future?”
I am most excited by two things right now: More upcycled pieces, and bringing my collection to women in person. I am working on a project that will allow people to feel, try on and fall in love with the clothes! **?Three things?? Live selling is something I’ve just started to play with- it’s almost like a new version of the boutique experience of the “old days”. Communicating with the customer to explain multiple ways to wear garments, helping her experiment with fashion and engaging in a direct dialogue about how we can use clothing to reflect the way we want to be seen in the world.