The event began with a welcome from Chastity Garner and CeCe Olisa, the fashion and lifestyle bloggers who started CurvyCon three years ago. Although we were new to CurvyCon, the energy in the room was immediately bright and positive. CeCe Olisa welcomed first time guests and those returning for the third time. “Without you, CurvyCon would still be an idea that Chastity and I talked about,” she said. Then CeCe and Chastity went over the events for the rest of the weekend.
The convention was sponsored this year by Dia & Co, a popular plus-size fashion brand. On the first day, we were treated to a fashion show with pieces from their fall/winter collection. Dia & Co, collections offered a variety of fashionable styles, color combinations, and fabrics not often seen in plus-size fashion. It was exciting to see the preview and it will be interesting to see what their complete collection release has to offer. After the runway show a Q&A with the founders and models alike shared their experiences with the industry.
Throughout the entire event, TV personalities, bloggers, models, and retailers talked about their experiences in the fashion industry and where plus-size fashion should go from here. Among those speakers were former supermodel Emme Aronson, perhaps the first plus-size supermodel to grace the covers of magazines worldwide. Aronson discussed her start in the fashion industry and her extraordinary career as a model. “The…industry has come a long way from offering plus-size women moo-moos,” she said. “We are making great strides, but there’s still so much else that needs to be done.”
Stacy London of What Not to Wear discussed the way curvy women on the show began to change their perception of their bodies as their wardrobe was updated. Marquita Pring encouraged curvy aspiring models not to give up, relating her own path to success as encouragement. Whitney Way Thore of TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life, answered a question from an attendee about how to deal with haters: “If you respond to the haters on social media, you just give them more fuel to continue. Although it’s hard and what they say hurts your feelings because they don’t know you, just let it go and move on.”
The second day shined with the spotlight on retailers and discussed the fashion industry from their perspective. Nadia Boujarwah and Lydia Gilbert, co-founders of Dia & Co, discussed meeting at Harvard and bonding over their shared discontent with what the fashion industry had to offer plus size women. This discontent led them to create their own store. “We wanted to develop a brand where plus-size women could find fashionable clothing they enjoyed wearing and a positive shopping experience at the same time,” said Boujarwah. Gabbi Gregg and Nicolette Mason talked about starting their own company, Premme, which launched this year to massive success. They explained that they worked so well together because, “We understand individually what we are good at and don’t step on each other’s toes.”
Lauren Chan, an editor for Glamour, discussed her push to feature more plus-size models. Meanwhile, Lane Bryant admitted to mistakes they had made with plus-size fashion in the past. “We as retailers missed the mark,” said Eyan Allen of Lane Bryant. “We put all plus-size women, regardless of age, into one category.” Brian Beitler, the Chief Marketing Officer, chimed in, “We hear what you’re saying…we are doing our best to create stylish, fashionable clothing for all ages and for all curvy women.”
Chante Burkett, editor-in-chief of Everything Curvy and Chic, was a confident breath of fresh air, who offered a witty, no-nonsense approach to life, dating, and self-preservation. She was not alone in the discussion of that topic on day two. “You have to live your truth no matter what anyone else thinks,” said Ashley Neil Tipton. “Own and love your curvy body.” Loey Lane (a youtube influencer), Precious Lee (model), and Claire Sulmers (creator of the Fashion Bomb), all discussed body positivity in life and dating as well. “If your guy doesn’t love and appreciate your curves, then move on,” said Lee. “There is a guy out there that will.”
Finally, Emmy-nominated keynote speaker Chrissy Metz closed the show. She talked about her journey as an actress and her experiences with body-shaming in the industry. In the end, she reinforced the need for body positivity and self-love among curvy women, which was the reason for the whole event.
The women at this event, whether they were speakers, vendors, or the creators themselves, were so energetic, positive, and inspiring. We had a great time networking and just taking and getting insight from fellow industry professionals. Garner and Olisa should be very proud of the enthusiastic celebration they created for curvy women!