The Rise of the Plus Size Model

Annelies Keus analyses the evolution of the plus size model and explains why it is important to showcase different body types of the runway. 


For decades, the fashion industry has indulged in razor-thin models. It falls in line with the ‘traditional’ standards of beauty that have been placed in our culture since the beginning of time. Besides the designers being urged to use as little fabric as possible when it comes to their samples, there also seemed to be a certain aesthetic look of a smaller-sized garment. But times have changed and the plus-size model industry is making a statement, which has finally garnered the mainstream media attention it deserves.

In past few years, the range of ages and backgrounds showcased at high-profile shows and campaigns has proved refreshing, but now the moment has arrived for brands to embrace size diversity as well. And not only plus size, there is also an in-between group of models, who are too small to fill out plus size clothing, but too large for standard-size modeling. Admittedly, they represent the kind of body type most of us would feel comfortable with.

The runway this past season got seriously shaken up by appearances from superstars like Ashley Graham, 26-year-old British model Iskra Lawrence and Instagram sensation Minahil Mahmood, walking shows for designers such as Michael Kors and Christian Siriano.

At Dolce & Gabbana, Alessandra Garcia-Lorido joined the label’s army, and in Paris, the appearance of Katy Syme and Stella Duval at H&M’s see-now-buy-now show, has proven a movement we have all been waiting for.

A leader among this vibrant movement is the popular e-commerce site Eloquii, a private company based in New York and Columbus, that designs and sells fashion apparel in sizes 14-28. The brand, formerly owned by The Limited has seen a turbulent rise in its few short years, after their launch in 2011.

As consumers, what we like to see is something we can relate to. I still very strongly believe not everyone is fit to be a model, though we’re no longer keen on seeing unrealistic imagery that is far beyond our reach of achievement. What we aim for is a better version of ourselves, and that is what we want to see reflected in the fashion industry. Game changing role models like Amy Schumer grazing the covers of high profile magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and Instyle already showed a shift in our vision of beauty. And given the 27 plus-sized models used during New York Fashion Week alone, it is safe to say brands have embraced size diversity and are showing curves in a beautiful way.