When Gabrielle Union set out to create a holiday fashion line in collaboration with New York & Company, the actress knew she had to do more than just extend the size range if she wanted it to be inclusive.
The Being Mary Jane star, 47, said she wanted the Gabrielle Union x NY & Company plus sizes to not only fit her customers but fit them well.
“If it doesn’t fit right, it ain’t right. That’s what it all came down to,” Union said at the collection’s New York City launch event on Monday. “When you’re not doing it right, you’re ignoring 67 percent of Americans who are plus-sized.”
Available now at nyandcompany.com, the 51-piece collection includes metallic dresses, bold jumpsuits, sexy satin sets, leather staple pieces and more. With prices ranging from $55 to $200 — and sizes ranging from XS to XXL — the new launch is perfect for your next night out, a holiday office party or New Year’s Eve.
The activist went on to explain that she would “fail miserably” if she didn’t make sure to include fashion-forward and flattering plus-size pieces in the collection. “I don’t want to fail at anything,” she said. “I have to get it right.”
Union credits her team with properly executing the plus-size designs. “I showed up, I listed and I expanded the circle,” she said.
“This is where you lead humbly … It’s easy to lead with your numbers and your success but a better business move is to center where you are weakest,” the actress said. “Center your blind spots. But if you don’t have the right people on your team you’re not going to ever know what those blind spots are.”
And to further cater to her plus-sized clientele, the actress partnered with Fashion To Figure (FTF), one of the first fashion retailers to specialize in on-trend clothing and accessories for plus-sized women. Union worked with the leading fashion company to create sizes 12-24 for her NY & Company collection, ensuring that women of all shapes can enjoy her designs.
The Gabrielle Union x FTF Collection is an unapologetic celebration of curves and features some festive pieces from the star’s holiday collection in addition to seasonal everyday wear items from the NY & Company line.
The former host of America’s Got Talent — who was recently fired from the NBC competition series and allegedly reported racial insensitivity on set — also opened up about the challenges black women in the industry face. She encouraged them to not only speak their truth but to also stand up for what they believe in — even if it means losing their jobs.
“Keep the door open … don’t be the happy negro that does the bidding of the status quo because you’re afraid. Don’t allow them to call you angry. When somebody else is saying the same thing, it’s called passion,” Union said during a panel discussion at the Monday event.
“It is scary. It is terrifying and there is a chance you might lose your job — perhaps I speak from experience, but you have do what you can when you are in those rooms — all skin folk ain’t kinfolk,” she said. “Do your best, because corporations want global dollars, and if those corporations don’t reflect the global audience, you are going to make so many mistakes trying to reach that global audience. So do your best to try to hold the door open, hold people responsible.”
In November, news broke that Union and Julianne Hough — who joined the season 14 AGT judging panel back in February, replacing spots vacated by Mel B and Heidi Klum — would not be returning for the show’s upcoming 15th season.
According to Variety, Union had expressed concerns over racially insensitive situations during her time as a judge, including a joke guest judge Jay Leno made that was later edited out of the episode.
She and Hough, 31, were also both subject to “excessive notes” on their physical appearance, Variety alleges.
A spokesperson for NBC and production company Fremantle responded to the claims with a statement to PEOPLE, saying: “America’s Got Talent has a long history of inclusivity and diversity in both our talent and the acts championed by the show. The judging and host line-up has been regularly refreshed over the years and that is one of the reasons for AGT’s enduring popularity. NBC and the producers take any issues on set seriously.”