Mainstream plus-size fashion sometimes seems to take one step forward only to take two (or five) back. One minute, a proudly plus-size model will grace the cover of a legacy women's publication. The next, a major brand will choose to feature straight-size models in its plus-size marketing imagery. Or, worse still, a brand will feature a plus-size model, while still not making clothes for actual plus-size humans. But even so, there are some incredible plus-size brands to know about in 2019.
There are more options than ever before when it comes to shopping smaller or independent plus-size brands. You know, the brands that have historically always had our backs. They can be counted on to create the most groundbreaking styles — the ones big-name companies have long insisted plus-size people would never wear. They usually take the most risks, have the most inclusive size ranges, and shoot the most diverse imagery. They design the pieces we've been asking for through the years, whether that be something loud and outlandish, or minimalist and practical.
If 2019 is anything like the couple of years we've just come out of, plus-size customers may keep hearing all about "inclusive," "body positive" companies that promise to make "clothes for all sizes" while only really catering to the size 8-20 consumer. Amidst all that, though, there are brands doing much better by plus-size babes. Most are led by plus-size women and femmes, for plus-size women and femmes. All are led by people who realize the magic that can happen when you simply listen to the people you're trying to make clothes for.
With OG plus-size bloggers Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason at the helm, there was never any doubt that the sartorial dreams of actual plus-size people would be at the heart of Premme. Since its launch in 2017, the brand has designed both trend-driven pieces and esoteric gems. Whether sparkly, tailored, minimal, or OTT, all styles are available in sizes 12 through 30.
What’s more is that Premme’s editorials and e-commerce shots all feature visibly plus-size models with bodies across its size chart, thus never failing to show consumers what these impeccably-constructed clothes will actually look like on bodies like ours.
In the world of bloggers and influencers, navabi has undoubtedly become one of the top destinations for premium plus-size fashion by predominantly European designers. Consider it your one-stop shop for luxury, glam, and dressed-up daywear alike. Although size ranges vary designer to designer, there are looks available in sizes 10 through 34.
What is perhaps most special about navabi, though, is that it takes care to collaborate with plus-size influencers, putting together collections with blogger Isabell Decker, model Aglaë Dreyer, and navabi’s own social media editor and plus-size style icon Bethany Rutter.
Rutter’s Arched Eyebrow x navabi collections are full of simple yet striking, monochromatic yet romantic, looks. They are dreamed up by a designer who not only cares deeply about filling the gaps in the plus-size industry, but filling them with something that will feel like a gift to the self.
3. Fat Mermaids
Fat Mermaids might just be one of the most intentionally unapologetic brands on the market right now. Its “I Don’t Give A F*ck About Your Diet Susan” pieces brought the designer into the public consciousness in a beautiful way, and it looks like there is more glorious fat pride to come in 2019 as well.
With cow-print pieces that turn the traditionally fat-shaming farm animal comparison on its head, “Big Belly Energy” tops that combine pop culture with plus-size advocacy, and furry crop top and mini skirt combos in sizes L through 6XL, Fat Mermaids' clothing highlights the simple reality that there is nothing shameful about existing in a fat body.
4. Plus Equals
Since launching in 2016, Plus Equals has become a haven for shoppers' kitschiest, gaudiest, most OTT sartorial dreams. With every new collection, the UK-based brand further pushes the boundaries of what is considered "acceptable" to wear if you're plus-size. All styles are made in sizes 10 to 38 and to custom measurements, which means that this is a line that actually makes clothes for any plus-size body.
Everything from Plus Equals' imagery to its designs to an ethos that celebrates all genders, all types of fat bodies, and all manner of fanciful wears proves that designer Jazmin Lee sincerely prioritizes plus-size consumers. There's no doubt she'll continue making the industry brighter, bolder, and generally better moving forward.
ELOQUII has proven time and time again that it is a brand that both listens and is willing to take actionable steps toward making shopping a more fulfilling experience for us all.
In its selection of size 14 to 28 wears, you will find everything from professional attire, to luxurious evening-wear, to fancy-ass jumpsuits — but you’ll also come across one-of-a-kind wide-fit shoes, trendy yet timeless swimwear, lookbooks (and accompanying styles) highlighting models sizes 24 and up, and collaborations with luxury designers like Jason Wu (almost as a way to proclaim that plus-size babes deserve to invest in the bodies we have now).
The choice to incorporate something like wide-fit shoes may seem like NBD at first, but when you consider the dearth of stylish options out there in this particular sector of fashion, it’s nothing short of thoughtfully bold.
6. Zelie For She
Designer Elann Zelie of Zelie For She evokes ethereal wonderment in each and every piece she designs. There is often an element of playfulness to her clothing, which manages to be soft and fairytale-esque, but also utterly emboldening.
Available in sizes XL through XXXL, there is often a mixture of party-wear, day-wear, and transitional-wear that will take you from your day job to the club, or date night, or a fabulous party with just a few accessory changes. While some brands may choose to focus on form-fitting or flowing designs, Zelie For She does both. The end results are collections that totally deconstruct notions of “flattering,” and simply opt for “fun” instead.
7. Chubby Cartwheels
A hub for alternative, often gender-neutral, and always bold pieces, designer Shawna Farmer’s Chubby Cartwheels is a must-watch in 2019 and beyond. Here, you’ll often find lace, cut-out dresses, velvet underthings, punky stripes, and all things holographic and caped. Farmer doesn’t shy away from creating pieces that evoke a certain kind of weirdness. On the contrary, these are styles that any proud “weirdo” (or former/current Hot Topic shopper) will gladly embrace.
The size range caters to customers sizes 1XL to 5XL, or 14 to 32, making it among the most inclusive indie plus brands out there as well. Its imagery always follows suit, and features models across the size range and of all genders.
8. Proud Mary Fashion
Finding legitimately vintage plus-size styles is never an easy feat, no matter how many thrift shops you may visit. Fear not, though, Proud Mary Fashion has you covered. Both on-site and in the Los Angeles store, designer and owner Jessica Hinkle sells authentic vintage finds alongside her own creations.
Hinkle's designs include bold tees with slogans like "2 Fat 2 Furious," glamorous dresses fit for any fancy occasion, charming lingerie and nightwear, as well as everyday pieces that keep comfort and cuteness in mind. They are all available in sizes 1X through 5X, or 14 to 30.
9. Ashley Nell Tipton
There is a pointed sort of dreaminess to Ashley Nell Tipton’s namesake collection. Romantic florals, retro suspender pants, and delicate, monochromatic mesh bodysuits are just some of what’s in store for you on the designer’s site. Available in sizes 14 to 28, or 1XL to 5XL, these looks are undoubtedly inspired by vintage classics while not feeling remotely outdated.
In a 2016 column for The Washington Post, Project Runway host Tim Gunn wrote that Tipton, who won the show’s 14th season, made “hideous” pieces he wouldn’t “dream of letting any woman wear,” regardless of her size.
Gunn cited her “bare midriffs; skirts over crinoline, which give the clothes, and the wearer, more volume; see-through skirts that reveal panties; pastels, which tend to make the wearer look juvenile; and large-scale floral embellishments that shout ‘prom,’” as some of her more problematic design elements.
Of course, it’s details like these that make Tipton’s line memorable. Plenty of plus-size babes simply want to rock looks that make them happy, and sometimes that means looks that add “more volume” or “reveal panties” along the way.