The Best Plus Fashion Moments Of 2015

I’ve been working in the fashion industry for more than eight years, and the changes I’ve seen over that course of time have been remarkable; I’ve gone from being the fattest female in a sea of skinnies at any event to seeing diverse body types both in the seats and on the runway at shows. Besides the overt increase in body diversity across all media, there’s been a boost in brands available to those above a size 14 — and the quality of clothes and timeliness of trends is better than ever before.

Although the industry still has room to grow (we’re always hoping for a more inclusive sartorial world, after all), it’s hard to ignore the positivity in the plus realm that has come to light this year. Ahead, we’re recognizing the amazing fashion improvements that have benefitted fuller-figured women in 2015: Read on to see which moments made our yearly hit list, and let us know in the comments below if there are any you loved that we missed!
Photo: Thomas Concordia/Getty Images.
Ashley Graham’s NYFW Lingerie Show
In all of the shows we’ve attended during New York Fashion Week, Ashley Graham’s was the first time we saw a designer walk the runway in her underwear. No, Graham wasn’t staging a sexy protest: She was showing the fashion world just how seductive voluptuous women can be in her lingerie line with Addition Elle. Not only was the show populated with some of the who's-who of the plus modeling realm, but the level of excitement was palpable knowing that all the runway pieces were immediately available for purchase — a plus in our gotta-have-it-now mindset.

Lane Bryant’s #PlusIsEqual Campaign

An unbranded ad in the September issue of Vogue; a stunningly strong black-and-white commercial; sexy silhouettes plastered all over Manhattan; and a contentious public event held in Times Square during New York Fashion Week. Lane Bryant’s eye-catching #PlusIsEqual campaign has had its fair share of support and derision, but it started a much-needed conversation with fashion media that no other major brand has done. To help further the dialogue, we even partnered with Lane Bryant’s CMO, Brian Beitler, for a live Twitter chat that garnered hundreds of questions and trended on the social media site for hours.

Ashley Nell Tipton Winning
Project Runway
In the 14 seasons of Project Runway, this year was the first to feature a designer who specifically designed for plus-size women: Ashley Nell Tipton. Although that feat was exciting on its own, we were even more thrilled when her collection paraded down the runway at New York Fashion Week — and when she scored the final win. This fashion first wasn’t just a monumental moment for reality TV, but for full-figured women everywhere. And if our interview with Tipton (and her Instagram account) is any indication, she’s going to be delivering even more style come 2016.
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Plus Brands Using “Real Women” as Models
The term “real woman” is as loaded as they come, but this was the year that “real women” — i.e., “non-models” — stole the spotlight, proving that true body diversity, cellulite and all, is beautiful. Some of our favorites include Society+’s strict usage of nonprofessional models (and no Photoshop), Eloquii casting a customer for its lookbook, SmartGlamour’s #SameSizeDifferentEyes campaign, and Torrid’s “real girl” model search. Although this body-pos trend seems to only be visible among plus-specific brands, we truly hope that 2016 will offer even better body diversity for all brands.
Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images.
The Increase in High-End Plus Brands
For an awfully long time, plus fashion options were sad, drab, and cheaply made. Regardless of the actual garment price, the level of luxury just wasn’t there for full-figured women like it was for those who wore under a size 14. Thankfully, times are actually changing, and this year added four new sleek, higher-end brands to our roster: Shegul, Mei Smith, Universal Standard, and PLY. While the prices are obviously not wallet-friendly, the designs are figure- and wardrobe-friendly; perfect for a sartorial splurge or smart investment piece.

Rebel Wilson and Melissa McCarthy’s Collaboration Collections
Tired of being forced to shop in plus sections “hidden by the tire section” where their best hope was to find something that “looked like what your older aunt would wear to a wedding,” both Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson took matters into their own hands and launched collaborative collections this year, much to the joy of our wardrobes. While Wilson focused her collection by working solely with Torrid, McCarthy’s widely sold designs can be found on her eponymous website, HSN,Lane Bryant, and Penningtons.

Eloquii’s Expanded Size Range and Use of Larger Models
When asked, so many plus-size clothing brands claim that their customers don’t want to see larger women and instead want “aspirational” — i.e., “smaller” — models instead. This antiquated way of thinking is the reason that so many plus-size models are pinned and padded to fit the garments they’re paid to wear. Thankfully, there are innovative and modern brands like Eloquii, who made sure to cast women who actually wear those sizes when it expanded its size range this year to include sizes 26 and 28. This body-diverse casting proved what we’ve thought all along: that women of every size and shape look good in the brand’s stylish wares.
Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
Tess Holliday Landing a Modeling Contract and the Cover of People Magazine
We knew there was something special about Tess Holliday from the start, which is why we named her one to watch back in 2012. Since then, she has built herself an army of loyal followers, and in 2015 she experienced a meteoritic rise to fame, thanks to signing with MiLK Model Management and landing the cover of People magazine. After scoring those two prize gigs, Holliday has modeled for Torrid, Yours Clothing, H&M, and others; and although Holliday’s popularity has been polarizing, there’s no denying that this 5'5", size-22 woman has made an impact in a thin-obsessed industry.

Target Finally Offering Plus Sizes in Its Designer Collaboration
Although we love that Target has offered designer collaborations at affordable prices for years, we never loved that the size range excluded more than half of the women in the country. We were clearly not alone with those feelings, and after enormous backlash (including a blogger-backed boycott) regarding the limited size range offered with its Altuzarra collaboration, Target issued a sartorial mea culpa by finally including plus sizes with its Lilly Pulitzer collaboration. Stores stocked up to a size 18, with the remainder of the plus pieces only available online, but Target’s spokesperson implied that if the plus collection did well, there were hopes for future in-store stockage. Lilly Pulitzer sold out online, so all eyes are on your next collab, Target.
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