Plus size fashion brand Ashley Stewart has been hella busy lately. On the heels of their annual “Finding Ashley” competition they have announced two celebrity collaborations that have many plus size women including myself side eyeing the brand. The first collaboration was with comedian and “The Real” co-host Loni Love and although it wasn’t ideal for many plus-size women, it wasn’t extremely farfetched. However, yesterday the brand released a collection with (of all people) Kendall & Kylie Jenner that has many people in the plus-size community both heated and confused.
I am sure once this article begins making it’s rounds, people will assume I have an ax to grind where Ashley Stewart is concerned. Tuesday, I wrote an article for Fashionista.com about the issue I had with Loni Love’s reasoning behind her collaboration with the brand. Now, here I am today expressing my issues with their collaboration with Caitlin and Kris Jenner’s baby girls. Honestly, I have nothing against the brand. I just know that plus size women deserve better and as plus size woman that is bold enough to use my voice, I am using my voice to speak for the women in my community.
A fun fact that many people don’t know about me is that I once worked for Ashley Stewart. However, before (and after) being employed by the brand, I was a loyal customer. I have literally watched the brand grow and breathe new life into plus size fashion. No, they were never high end or sophisticated nor were they like Lane Bryant. Ashley Stewart offered trendy, affordable fashion options for the plus-size girls in the hood and that was something that the plus-size industry lacked for many years. They ushered in the urban yet dope vibes plus size women on a budget needed when they hit the club, went on a date or attended an event.
While I applaud Ashley Stewart for dominating in a lane they somewhat created, it’s beginning to feel like Ashley is lost (pun intended) because this latest collaboration with Kendall & Kylie is so off brand. Oh, and the collaboration being inauthentic isn’t the only issue. Yes, the Kardashian/Jenner crew are known for their fashion and beauty influence, but this isn’t it sis. The 7-piece collection resembles Eloquii’s 2018 holiday collection and many have stated the jumpsuit is a simpler version of indie brand Jibri’s slouch jumpsuit. Also, what’s up with the price point? These are not the prices many of your “neighborhood girls” are accustomed to and this is something that many of them have expressed via the comments.
Many are fighting hard for inclusion and diversity in the plus-size community. While I have always believed Ashley Stewart was doing the same, I’m not sure this is a step in the right direction. We preach collaboration over competition; however, this seems so far removed from the Ashley Stewart we once knew and loved. Of course, curvy girls are hyped about the Jenner girls extending their sizes to accommodate their plus-size customers but why did Ashley Stewart, feel the need to make that expansion a part of the brand? Is there a bigger picture being painted that will later be reveled? Have you found “Ashley” and discovered she’s not a neighborhood girl?
We just thought that this would have been a perfect time for you to level up and bring a neighborhood girl with you. How? By releasing a collaboration that highlighted the works of some of plus-size fashions best and brightest indie designers like; Jibri, Christian O’Meshun, The Plus Bus, Zelie For She, Z by Zevarra, The Wendy S Collection and Courtney Noelle are just a few amazing options. Additionally, maybe you could tear a page from Lane Bryant’s book and curated a few collections with plus-size influencers or celebrities that fit the brands mold like; Chante Burkett, Essie Golden, Alissa Wilson, and Madeline F. Jones.
If you want the neighborhood girl to go global, do something that will promotes that, instead of making her feel unwanted and unappreciated. Plus-size women deserve nice things but in 2019 those nice things shouldn’t be obtained by playing in the sandbox of those who don’t want us there. Your customers are not happy, I see it in the comments, myself and other influencers have DM’s to prove it and I know you see it too. All I’m saying is don’t lose your star player while focusing on the other team. There are too many women in the industry, including myself, Danielle James, or Madeline Jones, that have experience and can consult and help you gain a little more insight.
Ashley can elevate, but ensure it’s occurring authentically. Don’t lose your neighborhood girl while trying to expand your reach.