Let’s be honest: the best part of New York Fashion Week is the street style — if you’re thin, that is. Historically, street style galleries have focused almost exclusively on thin, straight-size women.
This is partially an inventory problem: Much of the designer clothing that street style photographers want to shoot every season only comes in smaller sizes. A much, much larger part of the problem, though, is that being plus-size in fashion means being routinely overlooked. Street style photographers — the ones who swarm the sidewalks, lay down in puddles, and jump in front of moving cars — document the same group of editors and influencers, season after season. I’ve discussed this phenomenon with friends and colleagues, and we’ve heard every excuse in the book: Editors don’t want photos of plus-size women. Plus-size women don’t come to fashion week. Plus-size women aren’t stylish enough. Plus-size women can put their photos on their own blogs instead.
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In February 2018, photographer Devon Kaylor told The Cut, “There have been many times when I’ve had batches of images of plus-size women, and editors refused to take them. After a while a lot of photographers say, ‘They’re cutting these images of plus-size women, so I don’t need to shoot them.’”
We want to change that.
For NYFW, InStyle offers a street style gallery dedicated exclusively to plus size people — the ones who struggle to find fashion like the kind they see coming down the runways, but want to express themselves through clothing all the same. The people who, despite what every other street style gallery you’ve seen suggests, actually do attend NYFW. After shouldering their way into an industry that doesn’t necessarily want them around, they show up to fashion week, dress the hell up and turn the hell out in clothing they probably had to work exceedingly hard to find. These are the individuals who’ve scoured the backs of brick and mortar stores looking for options, only to realize they’re actually limited to shopping mostly online. They’ve taken inspiration from designers who refuse to make clothing in their size, and often, used their lack of options as motivation to demand more from the industry.
Part of that ‘more’ is representation in the coverage of the industry. We can’t force designers to create clothing in plus-sizes, but we can be part of the effort to show that there are stylish plus-size women in fashion, that they deserve to be included in the conversation, and that everything said to the contrary is an excuse.
By my count, this is the first plus size NYFW street style gallery from a mainstream publication, and — the fact that all of these images were shot by plus size woman is just icing on the big, fat, well-decorated cake. Our photographer, Lydia Hudgens, will be hitting up shows and events throughout the week to add more looks, so keep checking back for more plus-size street style inspiration.
@kellyaugustineb and @elannzelie
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