Tracy Reese has a few surprises in store this season, concerning both the actual clothes and the women on which they're featured. Reese's designs will be available in more inclusive sizing beginning with her spring 2017 collection. Previously, sizes ran from 0 to 12 and XS to L, with select pieces offered in size 14 or XL; now, Reese will offer a portion of her new designs in sizes 0 to 18 and XS to 2XL. "It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a while," Reese tells Refinery29. The decision came, in part, out of customer demand. "Anytime I have made appearances at stores, there are always customers asking for more extensive sizing." Granted, it won't be the entire collection; it'll be a spate of classic dress silhouettes from the designer, who's been a go-to of Michelle Obama's for years. While we wish the full collection were offered in this new size range, Reese tells us she aims to offer more options for customers in upcoming seasons, both in terms of styles in this expanded size range and further extending sizing (past an 18 or 2XL). The decision to broaden her sizing range is part of Reese's self-described "mission to make every woman feel beautiful," but it's also a savvy business move. "The reality is that the average American woman is a size 14; traditional contemporary sizing really only speaks to a small portion of the customer base," Reese says. "We see expanding our sizing as not only an opportunity to serve more awesome women, but also as a tremendous business opportunity." There have been tricky technical elements involved with offering new sizes: "Nailing the correct proportions as we grade up in sizing is extremely important," she says. "Just because the customer is more voluptuous, doesn’t necessarily mean she is taller." Reese also points out challenging industry misconceptions about the plus customer, who's ostensibly "not willing to pay the same prices as the traditional contemporary customer." Keeping quality in terms of workmanship and textiles consistent across sizes is important to Reese. "I do not want to offer an inferior product to our expanded-sizing customers," she says. "I believe she will be willing to pay the same prices for quality."
As for the eclectic casting at her spring '17 presentation on Sunday, Reese will show her new designs on a diverse array of models and non-models. The latter's eclectic mix will include Saturday Night Live's Sasheer Zamata; Carla Dirlikov Canales, opera singer and The Canales Project founder; Xin Ying, a principal dancer with Martha Graham Company; author, producer, and writer Susan Fales-Hill and her daughter, Bristol; and Kristi Henderson, cofounder of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network. Other non-models in Reese's upcoming presentation include Sarah Johnson, director of Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute; Gagosian Gallery's Isabel Shorney; Damaris Lewis, model, dancer, and philanthropist with Boys & Girls Club and Garden of Dreams Foundation; and Edris Nicholls, owner and stylist at Edris Salon. In terms of models-by-trade, Charli Howard and Clémentine Desseaux, cofounders of the All Woman Project, are among those cast for the presentation. "I thought it would be amazing to be able to highlight some of these women and their accomplishments as we present the collection," Reese says of the casting. "I get high seeing real women wearing our clothes as they strive, achieve, and do all the thousands of things we all need to do in a day."