Courtesy of Syracuse University
On Thursday, supermodel Emme, a longtime advocate for inclusiveness within the fashion industry, introduced a major new initiative to make sure that women who are a size 12 and up can find beautiful clothes to wear.
Emme joined with her alma mater, Syracuse University, for a panel discussion to mark the launch of their Fashion Without Limits campaign, which trains students at the school’s College of Visual and Performing Arts to design fashion for full-figured women, using dress forms by Wolf Form that are modeled on Emme’s own glamazon proportions—in an athletic size 16.
At the event in Manhattan, Emme lauded the recent groundswell of conversation about size within the fashion world. “I’m really excited that we’re at a tipping point of sorts, within this week, even. It’s women finding their voices. I think it’s not just full figured women, it’s women in general saying, ‘You know that ad campaign? It doesn’t work for me.’ or ‘You know, I can’t find clothes and my sister can’t find clothes in my size. Why is that?’”
Earlier this fall, junior year students studying fashion at Syracuse were introduced to the new course work and to the inaugural 12+ EMME Award™. Thanks to the award, the student with the most compelling plus-size design will win $500 and see Emme wear their dress on the red carpet.
Todd Conover, an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University, said that when the initiative was first introduced, there was some pushback from fashion students who saw designing for straight sizes as the only pathway to success in the business. Since his classes have actually learned to drape on the larger dress forms and begun to consider the potential demand for their work, he says, they’ve come to understand why this initiative is so revolutionary.
Emme hopes that encouraging training at the fashion school level will raise the design standards for clothes in larger sizes. “I hope the fashion industry says, “There’s money left on the table, why aren’t we taking it?”
And when Emme says money, she means serious money.
As a part of the panel, the model introduced Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the retail thinktank The NPD Group, who pointed to some staggering numbers. The fashion world, he says, is losing out on some $12-14 billion dollars by choosing not to design for women size 12 and up (some 68 million potential consumers.) “The industry has been stuck,” said Cohen. “But fashion is about to get smarter and the timing [of this] couldn’t be any better.”
The panel also included Aimee Cheshire, the co-founder and president of online retailer HeyGorgeous.com, who noted that she’s seen a 500% increase in her business in the last year alone.
Celebrity stylist Susan Moses, who is the creative director for Queen Latifah’s Curvations line, says she often struggles to find stylish clothes for herself and her famous clients. Moses’ message for the industry cut to the chase: “If you do me right, you can have my money.”