This New York Fashion Week Was The Most Body-Positive Yet

Photo: WireImage/Style360/Getty Images.
I have been working in the fashion industry for just over eight years now, but I’ve spent the majority of my life being big. Even in my wildest fashion dreams, I never imagined I’d be at New York Fashion Week, let alone watching women who possessed bodies similar to mine walking in high-fashion runway shows and posing in presentations.

A lot has changed since NYFW first began, and even more has changed within the last four years I’ve been covering plus fashion. And while we still have work to do — I will never stop fighting for greater representation at all levels — we need to acknowledge the major strides that have been made to make this the most body-positive Fashion Week ever. Click through to see who took their mission of inclusivity to new heights.
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Photo: Dan Lecca/Courtesy of Christian Siriano.
Christian Siriano
Christian Siriano has recently made headlines for his inclusive designs — he truly believes in dressing women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds — but those ideals were not typically reflected on his runways. This season changed that, with five of the top plus models in the game stealing the show, cementing Siriano’s status as a body-acceptance ally. Two days post-presentation, Siriano hosted an event at Lane Bryant’s flagship store to celebrate his second collaboration with the brand, marking yet another example of him delivering on his mission.
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Photo: Courtesy of Smart Glamour.
Smart Glamour
As one of the most inclusive clothing companies we’ve ever seen, it’s little surprise that Smart Glamour’s runway show was equally so. Its models represent every size it offers — XXS to 6X — as well as a variety of ethnicities, gender identities, ages, and abilities. Smart Glamour will no doubt keep leading the pack in terms of diversity, and we can only hope other labels will take a page out of its book.
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Photo: Philippe Rohdewald/Courtesy of Tracy Reese.
Tracy Reese
A few days before her Fashion Week presentation, Tracy Reese announced that a segment of her line would be expanding its size range to include up to a 2XL or 18. Although the extended-size offerings will be limited, it was still thrilling to hear. And, it was even more exciting to see with such a diverse casting of models and non-models, including actress Sasheer Zamata, opera singer Carla Dirlikov Canales, and activists Clémentine Desseaux and Charli Howard.
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Photo: Mariana Leung/Courtesy of Byron Lars.
Byron Lars Beauty Mark
Byron Lars might be best known for his cult-status sheath dress, but this season he’ll be best remembered for his totally inclusive runway inspired by his customers. By utilizing both curvy and straight-size models — not to mention, an actual Olympian, running shoes and medal in hand — Lars proved that women of all shapes and sizes can “pull off” his statement-making mixed-print designs, regardless of what Tim Gunn thinks.
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Photo: WireImage/Style360/Getty Images.
Ashley Graham x Addition Elle
With a campaign video exclaiming “F*This!” opening the show, it was no surprise that the Ashley Graham Addition Elle runway was filled with voluptuous models wearing unapologetically stylish designs. Besides the on-trend clothes, curvy models also wore Graham’s lingerie. Addition Elle is determined to start a #FashionDemocracy, and we're more than ready to join it.
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Photo: Amy Lombard/Courtesy of Rachel Antonoff.
Betty and Veronica by Rachel Antonoff
This summer, designer Rachel Antonoff dipped a toe into the plus fashion world when she collaborated with clothing rental website Gwynnie Bee. The playful and quirky collection was a major hit with the full-figured set, so it’s encouraging to see that she hasn’t forgotten about this marginalized customer base. As cute as the collection was, the crowd was abuzz due to the inclusion of curve model Barbie Ferreira, as her voluptuous frame was flaunted, not hidden, in an apropos “Aah-ooga!” emblazoned swimsuit.
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Photo: Dan Lecca/Courtesy of Tome.
They say three’s a charm, but with Tome it was five, as the brand's fifth anniversary marked its most inclusive runway yet. Although the designers behind the label are both male, they found inspiration in the strong women who have served as their muses. But, to carry off these strong sentiments, they needed models that fit the bill: And that was evidenced in their diverse casting that included curve model Marquita Pring, older model Jaclyn O'Shaughnessy, and transgender model Stav Strashko.
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Photo: Janice Yim/Getty Images.
Chromat has steadily been one of the most diverse runway shows during NYFW, thanks to designer Becca McCharen’s desire to dress and represent many different types of women. Her casting choices reflect the actuality of our world: transgender women graced the runway alongside their cis sisters; toxic shock survivor and amputee model Lauren Wasser complimented the futuristic designs with her bionic leg; and plus, straight-size, and models between those two size ranges all stomped the catwalk together like one big stylishly inclusive family.
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Photo: Courtesy of JC Penney.
Ashley Nell Tipton x JCPenney
Fashion week kicked off big with Ashley Nell Tipton’s public runway show in Greeley Square. Tipton has collaborated with JCPenney on her first collection since her polarizing Project Runway win. Plus models and bloggers, alike strutted across the stage (full disclosure: That's me, pictured!) in "see now, buy now" styles that quickly flew off the racks following the show. Not only did this runway feature marginalized bodies, its public nature helped cement the idea that fashion is for everyone.