Photo credit : Nela Kekic
You may not have ever heard the name Chrisandra Wells but if you’ve purchased a pair of plus-size pants in the past year there’s a chance that you’re quite familiar with her work. Wells works in print and on runways but she’s really made her mark as a fit model.
In an exclusive interview with Hello Beautiful the Nebraska native talked ageism, moving to New York, and initially making it happen with the help of Craigslist.
Fit models are used to create a baseline of measurements for designers to implement into the construction of clothing. The work requires maintaining one’s measurements exactly to ensure consistency and while it’s not as glamorous as passing one’s picture on a Times Square billboard it is just as impactful.
“Fit models have to maintain their size,” she said, “they’re always measuring you. It’s very particular.”
“They’ll be like are your boobs the same as they were last week. Like that’s a real thing.” She says the job is not for you if “you’re the kind of person that gets irritated.”
Wells headed to New York after fleeing what she saw as the small mindedness of her midwestern upbringing. She had visited the city a few times with her during her childhood with her mother and she thought it was the perfect place for her. She explained, “I thought it would be more my speed. I was trying to move out of Nebraska because it’s very conservative there.” She added, “It’s just like once you’ve seen all that stuff for 18 years…well it just didn’t suit my personality.”
She came to the city and studied Media Arts at Long Island University but with no family connections to the industry she had to hustle to get noticed in the modeling world. “The first few jobs that I had, I actually had booked before I was with an agency. It was just on Craigslist.”
That willingness to reach out got her a gig with a company called Fashion Options, a small organization seeking a fit model for a polo-inspired off brand. The opportunity lasted a few months and when it ended she continued doing the leg work to get in front of people who could support her career.
“I was sending my picture out to different agencies. I was called into three or four different agencies,” she said. After a few meetings she finally ended up at Bicoastal Mgmt who “signed me exclusively for fit.”
During her search for representation she was subject to the rejection of executivse but during her work as a fit model it’s often the consumers who critique her the most. “I think about it when I see customers complaining online about how this doesn’t fit and that doesn’t fit,” she says.
“Certain companies have online reviews on their website and I can see the comments that they make.” Sometimes she finds herself reading consumer thoughts.
“Don’t they know she’s shaped like and apple?” she recalls reading in one comment. In another, “Don’t they know she’s shaped like a pear?”
“It’s crazy because in a sense you can only do so much to please every person,” she declares.
She also says that consumers can actually trace a shift in clothing fit to the fit model. “When you change a person even when they have the same bust, waist, and hip measurement the fit is going to be totally different because human bodies are so different.”
Many of the best selling items from Eloquii were fit on Wells including that sequin wrap dress you saw at all of last year’s New Year’s Eve parties that celebs like Rebel Wilson rocked on the red carpet. She loves to get sneak peeks at all the brand that are expanding to plus-sizes through her work. “I knew when White House Black Market was coming to plus because guess what? They’ve got to call a fit model.”
She sees every new name added to the mix as a win in an area that still lacks offerings. “I’m very happy that it’s happening. It’s exciting that the bloggers and the models and the designers and everyone else is deciding that now is time for a revolution and saying ‘no we don’t want to walk around with shapeless clothing!’ We want to be fashionable and we want things that fit!”
Wells has kept that same hustler’s spirit that landed her an agent going and she approaches the new opportunities that are accompanying the industry’s expansions with it. She says she’s always thinking about how best to service the client, “If I’m on set I’m thinking about what is the vibe? What are they going for? Once she had a client say that they wanted someone ‘young’ and she threw her hair in a ponytail in an attempt to book the job.
She also refuses to disqualify herself from certain opportunities because of her age. “I don’t say my age whether it’s print modeling or fit modeling because in modeling they discriminate based on your age so I’m whatever you want me to be when I walk in.”
She gets really excited when she thinks about all the women who walk in her pants. She smiles and says, “I’m happy that I’m able to help women have options.”