In its ongoing effort to ramp up size inclusivity, Macy’s has partnered with social media sensations Denise Mercedes and Maria Castellanos for limited-run loungewear.
The pair are widely known for their viral #StyleNotSize TikTok and Instagram videos. Mercedes, who wears a size 14, and Castellanos, who sports a size six, film themselves dancing in the same styles. With Macy’s, they have crafted the Style Not Size for Jenni collection (a Macy’s private label.)
Mercedes and Castellanos started working together three years ago, when the latter was Mercedes’ photographer. After collaborating on photo shoots, Mercedes said she suggested they take a photo together wearing the same bikini style “as a cool way to showcase the same swimsuit on different body types” and to encourage body positivity. Once posted on social media, the favorable feedback inspired them to post more same-but-different style videos, and to later expand onto TikTok.
Joining TikTok about two years ago, Mercedes initially wasn’t sure what to post. She decided to incorporate her fashion ideas from Instagram and infuse them into TikTok showcasing her favorite styles. Mercedes then swayed Castellanos to join too, about six months later. After posting their first video together at the beginning of last year, their body acceptance message racked up attention. “Seeing two different bodies wearing the same thing is a reminder to people that you don’t have to be a certain size to wear a specific style,” said Mercedes.
While some fashion designers like Christian Siriano, Brandon Maxwell and Prabal Gurung have championed body inclusivity, some more mainstream brands have done so with fits and starts. Nike, H&M and Walmart are among the powerhouse brands that have amped up offerings for those who wear a size 14 or above. And newcomers like Universal Standard has developed a consumer base for its size-inclusive essentials. There is a substantial amount of business for everyone — the international plus-size market is more than a $178 billion entity and 4.3 percent annual growth is projected through 2028, according to Acute Market Research.
A hook-up that the Style Not Size creators did with Abercrombie & Fitch on Instagram and Tik Tok helped to catch the attention of Macy’s and led to the loungewear. Three drops are planned.
Centered on the premise that “it is really about your style, not your size, when it comes to fashion,” Castellanos said, “We really want the fashion world to be size-inclusive. When we were thinking about the drops, it was really about thinking about everyone out there. All of the women have insecurities and what not.”
Although the two women do not know how many units of their first collection with Abercrombie & Fitch were sold, they said they sold more than $250,000 worth of products through their shared links and codes. “Everything was sold out. There was not one piece left,” said Mercedes, adding that they get a commission based on the items that were sold.
That was taken into consideration with the design of the loungewear which is meant to be equally comfortable and flattering, said Castellanos. Materials, fabrics and designs were chosen for being up-to-date, because “the fashion industry tends to do everything very basic for a lot of sizes.”
Offered in sizes XS to XXL and in plus sizes 0X to 3X, the assortment ranges from $34.50 to $59.50. The first drop debuts Dec. 27 on Macy’s site and in select stores. The loungewear can be worn as sets or mix-and-match styles for relaxing at home or being out and about. Leggings have a corset-type feel at the waistline for a more form-fitting effect, and a bra top with cutout accents and an oversize cardigan are among the styles.
Plans are in place for multiple social media posts whether that be a try-on haul or showcasing the range to get consumers excited. Personally, the pair said they prefer to shop online since there tends to be a greater assortment of sizes than in stores. However, online choices can also be limited, too. “Every single woman out there is human and we all have different shapes and different sizes. We work really hard to find the perfect pieces to showcase for Style Not Size,” Castellanos said.
Allowing that being a size six makes shopping fairly accessible, she said sometimes she needs a size four or eight. “I would like for my friend and a lot of other women to be able to go into a store, and for that store to have their size,” she said. Asos, for example, offers both plus-size and standard-size options, which go up to a size 14. However, sometimes when the duo post an image of themselves wearing Asos attire, followers may post critiques noting that the standard sizing stops at 14 and questioning why they would promote standard-sized styles.
Wrapping up the interview, Castellanos noted that the series is not meant for people “to choose one over the other. It’s really here to empower women and let them feel beautiful and in control, and not to judge or diminish. We are super proud of Style Not Size, and we love seeing every single Style Not Size video from other women.”