Clothing designer Mallorie Dunn on the rise of body-positive fashion

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Clothing designer Mallorie Dunn on the rise of body-positive fashion

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Arts Sep 18, 2016 1:43 PM EST

Fashion designer Mallorie Dunn wants to make clothing for women of all sizes.

Dunn, the founder and designer of clothing line Smart Glamour, said this is not a common mission in the industry. With Smart Glamour — which she described as a “body-positive clothing line of customizable, ethically made clothing” — she hopes to counter unrealistic body standards that she said pervade media portrayals of women.

According to research from Washington State University assistant professor Deborah Christel, the average U.S. woman wears between a size 16 to 18, Bloomberg reported. And as New York Fashion Week began on Sept. 8, Project Runway co-host Tim Gunn wrote in the Washington Post that designers have failed to make clothes that fit the bodies of many U.S. women.

“I love the American fashion industry, but it has a lot of problems, and one of them is the baffling way it has turned its back on plus-size women,” he wrote. “It’s a puzzling conundrum.”

We spoke to Dunn about her line and what the future holds for accepting more diverse bodies in the fashion industry.

What initially inspired you to create Smart Glamour?

I’ve been doing fashion and making clothing for over 15 years now. I went to college for it, and then I worked in corporate fashion design for a while. And then I left corporate design because I didn’t feel very creatively fulfilled or too happy with fast fashion in general.

I noticed the extreme pattern of adult women feeling super self-conscious about their bodies and having a really hard time shopping. And it was really frustrating to me because I would get together with a group of women, specifically, although this definitely happens to all people, and it would just kind of spiral down. One person would say something negative about themselves and then somebody else would jump on, and it would just go and go into this downward spiral. And it was just really frustrating, because we have a lot more amazing things to bring, to offer to the world and bring to the table, and yet we’re all focusing on our images, and specifically in a negative way.

So I wanted to think about why that happens. And the two incredibly generalized reasons that I came up with was, one, that the way that women are presented, in media and in ads and in movies and TV, is just really inaccurate. I live in New York City and I sit on the subway, and what I see in daily life is not what I see reflected back at me. And I’m a thin, white woman, so I can’t even imagine being anything other than a thin, white woman and just not seeing yourself anywhere. It’s insane.

The second thing is that it’s just really tough to find women’s clothing that fits well, women’s clothing for all bodies. The average size women in America actually just went up. It used to be 14, now it’s between a 16 and an 18, and yet 97 percent of clothing brands stop at an XL. It makes absolutely no sense.

So I decided to solve all of these things by creating clothing that is for everybody and is actually for everybody, because it’s customizable. We have such a giant size range of XS through 6X, but we’re not even really capped by that because you can get something custom-made to your measurements and it doesn’t even matter what size you are.

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