CurvyCon Founders

TheCurvyCon is back. 

The three-day celebration of size inclusivity and body positivity returns to New York Sept. 5 to 7 during fashion week. 

The event, now in its fifth year, will include panel discussions, influencers, cocktail parties, workshops on body positivity, a pop-up mall filled with roughly two dozen brands carrying plus-size apparel and even a few fashion shows at Center415 in Manhattan’s Midtown district. 

“The mission is fashion inclusivity as a whole,” TheCurvyCon cofounder Cece Olisa told WWD. “We’re trying to get brands and designers to design for women, specifically who are above a size 14.” 

Olisa cofounded TheCurvyCon in 2015 with friend Chastity Garner Valentine. Both were style influencers who quickly realized the perks of being plus-size influencers⁠ — like free makeup and clothing⁠ — was not what everyday plus-size women experienced. 

“There’s kind of a red-carpet rollout that happens for us as plus influencers,” Olisa explained. “That’s not how we felt as plus women before we were influencers. TheCurvyCon was a way for us to bring that elevated experience in plus-size fashion to the everyday consumer.”

TheCurvyCon, which started as a half-day event, has sold out every year since its inception. Olisa and Valentine are expecting a full house again this year. 

There are a few reasons for this. For one, it solves some of the problems plus-size women face⁠ — like the lack of brick-and-mortar shops that carry larger fashion. 

“You should be able to walk into any store and find your size, regardless of how big your jeans are,” Olisa said. “But for the history of fashion, that has not been the experience of plus-size women.” 

When the conference began, the duo reached out to as many vendors and brands as they could, asking them to bring plus-size selections to the event. 

The result is what Olisa called a “dream mall, shopping experience” where their plus-size contemporaries could try on clothes before they purchased and have what “they probably watched their skinny friends have their whole lives.” 

And the list of brands and companies keeps growing. J.C. Penney, Anthropologie, Loft, Rachel Roy, Walmart, Tamara Malas, Courtney Noelle and Zelie for She are just some of the brands coming to this year’s TheCurvyCon. Nike will also participate for the first time, hosting wellness activations and body-positive workouts.

“When Cece and I started in the plus-size space in 2008, most plus-size brands did not cater to a woman under the age of 50,” Valentine said. “Fast-forward to 2019, and there are like 70, 80 brands that have plus-size options. That’s still a very small amount compared with straight-size fashion. But there is still so much more offered. And now with the variety, we’re allowed to be a trendy girl; we’re allowed to be a club girl; we’re allowed to do Goth; we’re allowed to be preppy.” 

Valentine added that TheCurvyCon is also a way for attendees to meet their favorite plus-size influencers and celebrities. 

This year’s lineup includes Dia&Co ceo Nadia Boujarwah, Grammy-winning singer Melanie Fiona, plus-size Sports Illustrated model Hunter McGrady, actress Jenn Lyon, YouTube star Nabela Noor, music executive Ethiopia Habtemariam and Burlesque performer Lillian Bustle, among others.  

And, for the first time, the event will include not one, but three fashion shows. On Sept. 6, Target, Macy’s and bridal fashion spot The Knot will host shows.  

“Body positivity and fashion inclusivity are extensions of the women’s movement,” Olisa said. “If women, and who they get to be in the world is negatively affected by the fashion industry, TheCurvyCon’s mission is to change that. Women should be able to show up in the world the way they’re meant to be.”  

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