Building the body label

Everyday women. Curvy models. Inner beauty.

Local fashion designers have taken measures ranging from starting a nonprofit organization that deals with body issues, to changing the way clothing sizes are categorized with one reason in mind: to improve women’s body image.

Communication senior and CEO of Woman’s Touch Apparel Jenesis Laforcarde says she doesn’t use traditional small, medium, large and extra-large sizing but rather sensual, mesmerizing, luscious and extravagant sizing. She says she just doesn’t want to label anyone.

“There’s nothing wrong with being luscious, so embrace it,” Laforcarde says. “It’s definitely for body image so women feel comfortable with their bodies.”

Laforcarde says there is always a reason behind anything that happens in Woman’s Touch Apparel. She says she chose to do her different sizing after her friend was embarrassed to get a large when they were shopping. She says the size shouldn’t matter if it looks good and fits.

In addition to her alternative sizing, Laforcarde casts her models differently. She says her models for Woman’s Touch Apparel submit a photo of themselves and a short biography. However, she picks them based on their biographies.

“I try to get real women that wear my clothes to represent my brand and then I get real customers that wear my clothes because they’re empowered by it,” she says. “You don’t have to be a top model to wear my clothes.”

Laforcarde says she is inspired by one of the ladies taking part in her June photo shoot because the model was pregnant and gave birth a couple months prior to the photo shoot. She says it is empowering and she does not care if the model snaps back quickly or not.

Laforcarde may not use top models to promote her brand, but some top models are changing the fashion industry’s status quo, one that differs from the traditional tall and skinny model.

Journalism junior and Phoenix Fashion Week model Jessica Seeger says Kate Upton and Kim Kardashian have had a significant influence with their curvy looks.

“They’re (Kardashian and Upton) embracing their curvature,” Seeger says. “It’s becoming a big thing and people have become proud of what they have.”

However, Laforcarde has different views of Kim Kardashian, but says she has changed the way body image is portrayed because of her full figure.

“The Kim Kardashian thing is really affecting women because before it was 'you have to be really skinny,' but now it’s 'you have to be really curvy' and people are using waist trainers,” Laforcarde says.

She says the waist trainers are even worse because they are changing women’s ribcages and body shapes.

“If you don’t have that type of body that is curvy like that... I don’t think you should be pushing your ribcage in to make that unrealistic body,” she says. “If we just have more women step up and really embrace who they really are then the fashion industry can change.”-Designer Aaron Eagles, who has his own fashion label Aje’les (‘ageless’), takes a different approach. He is in the process of creating a nonprofit organization, The M@SK Agency. He says it aims to combat the negative effects the fashion industry can leave on models, as well was make people aware of real-life scenarios. Those effects and scenarios include body-image issues, eating disorders, depression and losing sight of oneself.

Eagles says the organization will bring “awareness to the industry of what fashion is as a whole” as well as make people feel beautiful.

He says, “It’s really cool to see some of the people come out and share some of the real-life stories or share that it’s not all easy or that they did struggle.”

Eagles says he’s dealt with weight issues since he was a child and knows how difficult it is to be who you are in the fashion industry from the time he spent modeling.

“When you’re in fashion it’s a big part of watching the fashion cycle and in that it could be easy to lose who you really are,” Eagles says. “I think people have to be true to what they are going to do.”

He adds, “I think it’s a daily battle of trying to figure out who you are and to love yourself.”

Eagles says his organization will strive to “show people beauty from the inside out” and to help “feel comfortable in their own skin” because many people struggle with it.

“[There are] these people (supermodels) that the whole world says are beautiful, but yet they struggle with body image issues,” Eagles says. “I feel like just being able to share that and that you’re not the only one who struggles with something can be so uplifting.”

“It’s something that’s just building people’s self-confidence from time A to time B,” he adds.

Additionally, designer and CEO of Hues of Ego, Natasha Duran, says she created her fashion line as a way to help women find who they are.

“I really just wanted to bring out that alter ego in every woman and really find who they are because I feel like we get so lost in who we think we should be on a daily basis instead of just being who we really are,” Duran says.

In addition, Seeger says fashion designers should promote their companies with normal-size women in order to help improve body image.

“They could also have the plus-size models,” she says. “I think if they mix it up and show that you’re beautiful no matter what you’re wearing—you can be beautiful in anything you just got to work it.”

Duran says the fashion industry should “stop glorifying skinny.”

Laforcarde says, “I think we just need to stop this whole unrealistic thing and start having real women wear our clothes.”

“We need to let more models in. We need to let more sizes in. We need to let different heights in for fashion to be different,” she says. “We just need to add diversity into the fashion industry mostly within the models and who fashion brands put as the face of their brand.”

Reach the writer at shyde1@asu.edu and on Twitter @ShelbyHyde.


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