Model: Kailee O’Sullivan
Photographer: Marc de Paola
Stylist: Ashley Puma
I recently spoke with the fabulous Yuliya Raquel, designer behind IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel. She is not your ordinary designer. She is a very vocal advocate for the plus size movement as a whole. From her “ I Am Beautiful” campaign to her speaking engagements at various events, Yuliya has used her voice and talent to push the movement forward in a uniquely diverse way.
Why marry size acceptance movement and design?
I understand what it feels like to not love yourself. My mother went thru different sizes and no matter what size she was, the same conversation went on in her head. It is a personal thing. For me, it is important to stand for something. Designing is not entirely fulfilling in and of itself. Through my designs, I can communicate the message. Everyone around me is beautiful, it is all aligned with my love for design. We are deserving of our space in the world, it is inhumane to think otherwise.
How do you feel about the apparent shift in plus size presence in the media? Do you feel that it is just a trend?
It is not a trend, people outside of the movement at least are warming to the concept of inclusion. It is time to be globally accepted. Criticizing is not empowering. We have to start with the understanding that we can’t judge ourselves. Proclaim that we are ok just as we are. We all have to change the conversation in our head on a global level.
Why do you feel that designers are reluctant to design for plus sizes??
I feel that as a designer I design for beautiful women that just happen to wear larger sizes. It is so much easier to design for straight sized women. To design for curves, we have to understand the physiology of a woman past a size 2 or 4. The designer has to be a little smarter, more daring. I remember in my early years in design, the garment was the most important element. IGIGI’s focus is about the woman wearing the garment. It is an accessory meant to drape her curves.
You are an activist in the movement as well as a designer, why do you feel that more activists are not involved in the fight for size acceptance in fashion?
No one ever wears nothing! Clothing has the power to help us feel good about ourselves. Clothing is fun! We can use any tool to empower. Clothes are not the most important thing, but why not wear something that makes us feel good. It is a merely a tool.