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Upon entering her suite at The Dominick hotel in SoHo, I find supermodel Ashley Graham laying on the couch, waving her arms and legs like she's making a snow angel and saying, "Starfish! Starfish!" to the delight of her team. She wears a bright cyan linen suit, diamond hoop earrings, and no shoes—because why would she?
"So nice to meet you!" she says as I enter, sitting up on the couch—which has a view of the entire New York City skyline—flashing her wide smile and smoothing out her fresh linen pants.
"I'm obsessed with linen this summer," she says.
The model and new mom of twin boys just moved to New Jersey with cinematographer husband Justin Ervin and their little family, but she's in the city to talk about her recent partnership with Affirm—a financial tech company that helps shoppers make big purchases and pay at their own pace.
"They came and they redid my whole backyard," she tells BAZAAR.com. "I wanted to furnish my whole backyard, so I was able to get like some big investment pieces using Affirm and then kind of supplement with the little knick-knacky things as well."
Graham is the goddess of high-low purchases. One day she'll raid Target for good leggings, and the next she'll find the absolute perfect designer blouse online and buy four of them.
"I love The RealReal, I love Amazon. It's like a mix of high-low for me. I'm the epitome of high-low—like I just went to Target and bought a bunch of stuff. I'm all over the place. And sustainability is a big deal too," Graham says.
She adds that when she's searching for a high-priced item, she "definitely will hunt on consignment stores" before she visits luxury boutiques or department stores.
"I did invest in, to me, the perfect oversized white shirt, the R13, and I have three white of the same and I got it also in blue pinstripe—and there's a crop version," she says with a laugh. "Don't come for me!"
As a model, Graham is constantly exposed to all the latest trends and new collections, but in her daily life, she likes to keep things simple and classic.
"I'm not really buying into big trendy things necessarily," she says. "I like classic, timeless pieces that I know I'll be able to use—like even if I put a bag away for a few years I always kind of go back."
When asked if she has any prized vintage pieces she got from her grandparents or relatives, Graham laughs, "My grandmother was a farmer ... so, I didn't inherit anything." But, she jokes, "My mom ... I did see a couple pieces that I was like, 'When you die, I want that, make sure it's in your will.'"
Graham's humor is bright enough to light up any old room, but her new obsession for ultra-vibrant looks and airy fabrics also does the trick.
The cyan linen suit Graham wears during the talk is by emerging brand Hanifa. BAZAAR was in attendance when the label, led by designer Anifa Mvuemba, debuted its 2022 collection in New York City earlier this week. "She did this suit for me and she also did this little pink dress I wore to the Affirm dinner," Graham says of Mvuemba.
"My vibe this summer is I'm going to be running outside with the boys constantly, so [I'll be wearing] athleisure, and then if I want to get a little fancy I'm going to be wearing a linen pant," she says.
At home with her babies, her go-to outfit consists of an oversized boxer short and a tank top ("I'm lucky if I put a bra on, but when I do I feel like I've completed my look—it keeps it real"), but when she's out, she says, "It feels good to put clothes on, put a look together, put color on. For me right now I just want to wear color, like for so long I've just been like, 'Black! Drip me in black!' but now I'm like, 'no,' I want to wear prints and colors—it's so much fun. Color honey."
The model recently wore a pink and orange striped dress from Zara. "It was an XL, and it was $35, and I just felt super fancy and I wore it around the house all day," she says.
Graham is known for her body positivity, and while recent activism for more inclusion in the fashion space has certainly gotten us somewhere in terms of size range, she says it's still hard to shop beyond sizes 0 to 4. "Yes, 100%, I mean, I'm in a weird place right now also where I don't know what size I am. I'm kind of guessing I'm like an 18, or XXL, but most brands only go up to an XL or a 16. I am finding more though in the last couple of years, which is really great," she says.
Some brands for "ultra-curvy girls" she's loving right now include Favorite Daughter, The Row, and Cotton Citizen. "I just put on a pair of Favorite Daughter jeans and I was shook. It sucked in my lower belly fat and it also was tapered in the back above my butt. And I always have to taper my jeans," she says. "I think I might be their biggest size though, that's the thing. But they're also a really tiny brand. The big brands should have all the sizes—you have no excuses."
Apart from investing in her closet staples, Graham has also recently invested in skincare brand Fig. 1, and partnered with Bobbie (organic baby formula manufacturer) and Coterie (a sustainable diaper and baby product company).
Asked if being a mom has changed the way she shops and supports brands, Graham says, "Motherhood has definitely changed my outlook on what matters most to me right now, and what matters most is formula, diapers, sustainability, and things that have longevity—for my children."
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