Plus Size at the New York Fashion Week


Bella Rene, an exclusively plus-size clothing brand, is the only such brand to make it onto the NYFW calendar this September.

The latest edition of New York Fashion Week (NYFW) begins on the 8th of September. The biannual fashion event has made headlines repeatedly for their body type representation or the lack thereof. 

The only plus size fashion brand to make it to NYFW’s latest season’s calendar has made a name for itself within the community. Bella Rene is a clothing brand founded out of sheer frustration with the fashion industry’s exclusive policies.

Kenyatta C Jones, an Indie designer, is the brand’s founder named it after her mother ‘Rene’. Bella Rene translates literally to Beautiful Rene. Jones is vocal about the need for representation of plus-size women in the fashion industry.  

Fashion Industry and its Plus-Size Problem 

Unsurprisingly, the fashion industry has a ‘fat’ problem. The NYFW is not exempt from this systemic issue plaguing the industry for decades. Runways overflow with tall and slim models.

Yet, the reality of women is vastly different. This problem becomes abundantly clear in the lack of fashionable clothing items offered by brands for sizes above 12.

Whether it is editorial ads, ad campaigns, or imagery for brand catalogues, the models are under size 12. Kenyatta Jones talks about her struggles with finding fashionable clothing that fit her.

When shopping at Lane Bryant, a brand that reportedly started to prioritize inclusivity, she recalled being unable to button the most oversized pants they had.

It fueled her to eventually create her brand of clothing where women would not have to compromise between fashion and finding clothing that fits. 

Lindsay Schallon, the senior fashion editor at Glamour, echoes the same sentiments. She is dressing for the job she wants proved to be a challenge when she gained weight.

She quickly realized that clothing brands did not make clothing that she wants in her size. While 68% of shoppers are plus-size women, their representation in the fashion industry is so small it is negligible.

Straight-size decision-makers of the fashion world lack the understanding of the nuances that go into designing inclusive clothing. 

Inclusivity or Optics 

While a couple of brands chose to showcase plus size clothing in the NYFW, few continue production post the end of the week. Christian Siriano and Chromat are some of the only non-exclusively plus size brands known for their inclusive clothing.

Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty, a fashion brand owned by the celebrity, is known for its inclusivity. Yet, the actual inclusivity of the NYFW is less than what it appears to be.

41 of the 68 plus-size models featured in the 2019 edition of NYFW were clustered into three shows – Tommy, Chromat and Christian Siriano. That makes the three brands the outliers, which are doing representation right.

The norm, as discussed in the section above, remains that Fashion Industry is exclusive. While simple glance makes NYFW appear inclusive rather than exclusive because of the way data is presented.

Looking closer at the lineup paints a different picture altogether. The September 2021 edition of NYFW will begin next week. Bella Rene’s show is on the 9th, a digital event starting at 3 PM EST.

It remains the only exclusively plus-size brand showcased at NYFW year and year again. Christian Siriano’s models will walk the runway on the 7th, before the official opening of fashion week.

Chromat, another brand known for inclusive clothing, is planned for the final day of the fashion week. Both Siriano and Chromat shows are Off-site. 

Kenyatta C Jones has the following to say about the issue “Being the only plus-size designer brand on the calendar should not remain the norm.

We need more brands to create the real fashion that plus-size women need and want and then show it on the runway and in the media.

I’m committed to continuing the fight for inclusivity in the fashion industry, especially on the runway and in the media.” 

Kavya Pragallapati
Kavya Pragallapati
An avid reader with a knack for researching niche issues and topics. Kavya is a writer focused on bringing unheard voices to the light. She believes there are multiple perspectives to everything and is not afraid to step back and reevaluate the larger picture.



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