If you’ve listened to our podcast before, you will know that in a previous episode (EP 126), we had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Supermodel and Life Coach, EMME, who disrupted the fashion and beauty industries three decades ago by advocating for inclusive beauty ideals and body acceptance – a cause that has only gained even more significant ground today.
EMME, the Division 1 college athlete who put “athletic curvy” on the map and rose to fame in the mid-1990’s as the world’s first plus-size supermodel, is once again shedding light on size inclusivity in the fashion industry.
Fast Forward: She is now teaming up with her alma mater Syracuse University and online plus-size retailer OneStopPlus (OSP), the nationally recognized advocate for body positivity, health and wellness. OneStopPlus is promoting fashion inclusivity in the classroom with the 8th annual Fashion Without Limits (FWL) design competition where our new bestie, Zahir, was a judge.
(Put a sticky-note on that, because will be having EMME back on the podcast very soon.)
But for now, we are here this week to celebrate her efforts to inspire a new generation of up-and-coming fashion designers – by welcoming this year’s winner of the Fashion Without Limits competition – Nina Chen, and introducing Zahir Babvani, head of design for OneStopPlus.
Emme enlisted the help of fellow advocate and veteran plus-size fashion designer Zahir Babvani to inspire a new generation of up-and-coming fashion designers to put their talents to work for the silent majority — the estimated 70 percent of American women who wear sizes 12 and up. #DAMNSTRAIGHT
As head designer at OSP, he is responsible for the company’s growing roster of popular plus-size brands, including Woman Within, Jessica London, June+Vie, Roaman’s, Catherines, and Eloquii. Babvani held a rousing virtual masterclass on plus-size design and style for the University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts Fashion Design class of 2024. #lovingthisjourney
Offering essential business insights and tips for designing clothes plus-size women want to wear, Babvani challenged the group of future designers to create the next “it” style for curvy women, keeping in mind today’s inflation-weary shoppers, the heightened demand for versatility, and the customer’s need for a superhero multi-tasker piece to serve all her style needs, from casual to work to dressy.
More than 20 students competed for the chance to have their original designs manufactured and brought to market for fall 2023.
The winning designer, Nina Chen, found inspiration for her “Tulip Dress” in nature’s bountiful curves. Chen’s modern-classic black dress, which is made of Ponte knit fabric, is tailored to flatter all body shapes. The “Tulip Dress” is slated to debut on the OneStopPlus marketplace this fall as part of an exclusive collaboration between OneStopPlus and Emme’s Fashion Without Limits groundbreaking partnership with Syracuse University.
The winning garment will feature special hangtags giving Nina, the student designer name recognition and a taste of fashion designer fame, all while also bolstering the FWL program.
“I came into fashion so passionate about many issues in the industry, but inclusive design was not on my radar,” says Chen.
“Through my journey working on the competition and now interning with OneStopPlus, I’m learning that, with the right approach and mindset, inclusive design can and should be a part of every fashion designer’s portfolio.”
Chen adds that the competition has inspired her to think more about the end user of her designs. “Emerging designers tend to focus on ‘cool’ fashions that we would wear. Emme and Zahir really helped me to understand the importance of making fashion accessible to all women, and I look forward to being more inclusive with my designs throughout my career.”
In this episode, Zahir and Nina each share their fascinating fashion journeys with Holly – from Zahir’s esteemed career to Nina’s baby beginnings.
Holly helps us explore how creative thinking and passion can really make a positive impact on the lives of others through the art of fashion, as we all explore the many definitions of “beauty.”
Please join us this week for a very important conversation. The future of fashion is here with rising stars like Nina, and visionaries like Zahir and EMME!
We are the best fashion friend you never knew you needed, so please, please send us your fashion questions via email or on our social DMs. Holly WILL answer and most likely, will give you a shout-out on our next episode.
Have a fabulous fashion week!
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