Fashion labels refused to dress a plus-size model for the cover of Vogue

Vogue UK’s January cover girl, Ashley Graham.
Vogue UK’s January cover girl, Ashley Graham.
Image: Donald Traill/Invision/AP
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It’s hard enough for women above a size 12 to find clothing at a store. Apparently it doesn’t get much easier if they’re going to be on the cover of Vogue.

In her editor’s letter for the January issue of Vogue UK, editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman revealed that some fashion brands the magazine reached out to didn’t want to dress their January cover star, model Ashley Graham, who is a size 14.

After thanking Coach, which quickly provided clothes for the photo shoot, Shulman lamented that “there were other houses that flatly refused to lend us their clothes.” She did not identify any of the brands, but added: ”It seems strange to me that while the rest of the world is desperate for fashion to embrace broader definitions of physical beauty, some of our most famous fashion brands appear to be travelling in the opposite—and, in my opinion, unwise—direction.”

Shulman acknowledged that the shoot was put together “fairly last-minute,” but even so, it’s surprising to hear that a fashion brand would reject an opportunity to have their clothes on a Vogue cover.

In recent years, many fashion retailers have finally, albeit slowly, begun to take more notice of women the industry designates—meaninglessly for the most part—as “plus-size,” which typically refers to those size 16 and up. (It’s worth nothing that, by this standard, Graham doesn’t even qualify as plus-size, and indeed receives flak for being both too fat and too thin.) But clearly the stigma still remains, and it’s particularly evident on runways.

While some brands have made strides in embracing racial and ethnic diversity in their choice of models, diversity in body size and shape is still lacking, one example being the annual Victoria’s Secret runway show. Despite its terrible fashion, the event has become a venue for the world’s top models—of a certain body type. Recently Mashable spoke with a number of models outside the VS mold about their feelings on the show. Many still loved it, but acknowledged that they felt the company wasn’t speaking to them, which says a great deal considering it’s a nationally televised event in the US, where the average woman is now a size 16.

Graham, who has even landed the cover of Sports Illustrated’s famed swimsuit issue, has recently emphasized that outsider feeling. On her Instagram account, she posted a drawing of herself in Victoria’s Secret lingerie and the coveted angel wings worn by select models in its runway show. “Watching the angels tonight like.. 👼🏽🌟👙” her caption read.