Gabi Gregg wearing her designs for Playful Promises.


PLUSES AND MINUSES: With an apparel line with Premme codesigned by Nicolette Mason, a deal with Swimsuits for All, and a new innerwear partnership with Playful Promises, plus-size fashion influencer Gabi Gregg has seen the large-size category evolve.

Credited with starting the “fatkini” trend through a deal with Swimsuits for All, Gregg (@GabiFresh) focuses on a body-positive message with all that she does. Her latest deal comes when other companies are focusing more attention on nonmodel-size women. Considered to be a size 14 or above, the plus-size market is estimated to be a $20.4 billion business. Kmart is extending its sizing for all in-house brands as part of its “Fabulously Sized” collection. Rose & Willard, an e-tailer that features women of all sizes on its site, is considering getting into wholesale due to demand. (The company also requires that models agree to sit down for meals during shoots.) Prabal Gurung, Michael Kors and Christian Siriano have hired large-size runway models and designed for them in recent seasons. One such recruit, Danielle Brooks, has a new advertising deal with Lane Bryant. And Tess Holliday has been making the rounds talking about her new book “The Not So Subtle Art of Being A Fat Girl: Loving the Skin You’re In.”

“Even in the past few months, it’s getting even more and more media exposure because of influencers and models who are finally speaking out about their experiences,” Gregg said. “Of course, there’s this question of whether plus-size women are promoting obesity. There is this whole side of thing that holds back from actually discussing the issue of fashion. Unfortunately, we’re hitting those roadblocks on the way to equal access for cool clothes.”

She said, “I’ve been in the industry for about 10 years in different ways. Back then it was so, so hard to find anything that was stylish in any way. The fact that we have brands now that cater to a younger audience and do think about trends, that is improvement. We have a long way to go. I still can’t walk into a mall or most stores and find my size, which is a problem.”

Part of the reluctance is due to the expense involved with getting into large-size clothing, which requires creating new patterns as opposed to sizing up existing ones, she said. “People feel that it’s a risky category because unfortunately, some still have this old-school idea about what plus-size women will and will not wear. So they’re still kind of stuck in the past. In some cases, especially for the higher end of fashion designers, I do think there is still some fat phobia and some fear there that they don’t want plus-size women wearing their clothing.”

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