Ashley Graham made a 24-hour stop in Los Angeles Tuesday to help e-tailer PrettyLittleThing celebrate its new size-inclusive range, and she appears in its #EveryBodyinPLT campaign. Before the party at Delilah, Graham sat down with WWD at The Peninsula Beverly Hills to talk about how she’s helping to reprogram the way the fashion industry views size inclusivity.
WWD: Welcome to Los Angeles.
Ashley Graham: Ciao. I just landed. I was in Puglia shooting and my husband and I drove five miles down the coast to Reggio Calabria to see his family and then we went to Milan. I’ve been gone for two weeks, but it was amazing.
WWD: What was your favorite part about helping to put together the PLT collection?
A.G.: The best thing about the whole collection is it’s size inclusive, which was an obvious must for me. But also that we’re not hiding her, we are celebrating her and showing cleavage, thighs, slits, sheer. It’s very sexy, sassy and glamorous, but also fun, and that’s exactly what we all wanted — for her to feel her best.
WWD: Did you have trouble finding fun clothes when you were younger?
A.G.: Oh, 100 percent. I remember in middle school and high school thinking, “What am I going to wear for school the next day?” And I could never figure out where to buy it or how to put it together in my closet so I actually started cutting my clothes up because I wanted to show off my stomach, show my breasts, and so I just would kind of create my own things. My mom and dad thought I was crazy because I was cutting clothes that I had just bought but they let me and I got to wear things that I felt good and sexy in and here I am now, still cutting clothes up.
WWD: It’s nice to be able to do it yourself and not have to worry about ruining expensive pieces.
A.G.: Growing up there wasn’t accessibility like there is now for younger curvy girls. Now there are so many brands that are doing it and that’s why I was so excited to join with PLT, because they are doing it globally. I really believe that it’s not just the U.S. and it’s just not the U.K., it’s women around the world who want to feel sexy, sassy, glamorous and included in the conversation.
WWD: Do you feel that your work as a runway model is helping to move the needle the fashion industry?
A.G.: I have to say there’s been so many strides with curvy girls and the runway and there’s still so much more work to be done, but Cushnie last season was one of the newer designers to have curves. Prabal [Gurung], Michael [Kors], Christian [Siriano] have been doing it for the last handful of seasons, so it was nice to see yet another designer saying “We want to have more inclusivity.” If one does it, then two do it, and a handful do it, it’s like a domino effect. I think some people wish it would happen a little faster but I’ve been doing this for almost 19 years now and I’ve never seen it accelerate at the rate it’s happening now. I’m encouraged by it.
WWD: Do you also feel as though more curvy models are breaking into the industry?
A.G.: There’s always been the desire to be a model, hence why Tyra Banks made “America’s Next Top Model” because there’s so many young faces out there who have the potential and the desire who want to break into the industry. But it’s not an easy road and if you are one of the “different” girls, even being curvy is different in this industry, it’s a hard road to take. But I’ve been seeing a lot of new faces and I’m encouraged by it because it means we are all headed in the right direction.
WWD: What’s next for you?
A.G.: I’ve got “American Beauty Star” that I hosted that’s coming out in January. It’s a new panel and the talent is just extraordinary. Behind every great look is a great hair and makeup team so I’m excited to celebrate them.