Photos: Kristina Wilson for YDY
Liz Black is used to handling runway samples, having worked in the high-end fashion industry for years.
“I’ve always been shocked when I’ve seen those runway samples up close because these sample sizes are so different from my clothing size,” the P.S. It’s Fashion blogger — who, at a size 16, is just slightly above the national average — tells Yahoo Style. Sample sizes, which are the sizes created by designers for runway models and celebrities to wear, usually come in somewhere around a size 2 to a size 4.
It’s the homogeneity of these sample sizes that has led celebrities like Leslie Jones and Dascha Polanco to comment publicly on their difficulty in getting dressed for the red carpet, and that ultimately keeps fashion runways populated with stick-thin models.
So Black collaborated with the nonprofit collaborative platform YDY for a shoot in which she poses in sample-size gowns to show how they fit (or don’t fit) on a nonsample-size body.
“I knew that showing these sample-size clothes on my body would give a great visual to help readers understand what I’ve been experiencing all these years,” she says.
The resulting photos are both beautiful and funny, as Black clutches a dress to her front or fits only her arms into an elaborate gown.
Kristina Wilson, editor in chief of YDY and a fashion photographer for a decade, took the photos in this shoot in hopes that they would call attention, in a “kind and playful way,” to a problem in the fashion industry.
“When you try to put clothes from showrooms to put on people who are not sample sizes, they just don’t exist,” she says. “There is no way to dress a person who isn’t a sample size, even if you want to include them, so it’s really keeping the industry from being inclusive.”
Wilson launched YDY as a reaction to her experiences working in fashion, where she felt she wasn’t seeing different types of people represented. “It tends to be that we shoot a very similar type of person over and over again in fashion,” she says. “It tends to be young, slim person, usually white, that we show in clothes. We all have to wear clothes, but we’re not all being represented.”
Both Black and Wilson say that the industry is evolving, but very slowly.
“A lot of the higher-end designers are really dragging their feet,” says Black, quoting excuses from “we only get smaller models” to “it’s a cost-cutting measure” to “it’s aspirational.”
“I don’t aspire to be that size,” she says. “I aspire to be the person I am.”
Still, the shoot isn’t meant to be heavy-handed or to take down a specific designer. But it is meant to be a light-hearted message to the industry as a whole.
“Let’s see examples of everybody and have everybody feel like they can see representations of themselves in fashion,” says Wilson. “We want everyone to feel included.”