“If you build it, it will come.” That’s the voice most people hear echoing on the inside of their brain right before they create something new, innovative, and necessary. After year’s of working the red carpet, hosting reunion specials, and producing and directing shows, Nina Parker is adding fashion designer to her long, growing resume. Years of struggling to find appealing plus size gowns for the red carpet led the E! host straight to the drawing board. If fashion designers weren’t going to make it for her, she was going to design them for herself.
Parker’s desire to see an accurate representation of plus size fashion in the industry was the catalyst behind her latest business venture. She has become the first African American woman to create a plus size only brand within the Macy’s franchise. Launching today is the Nina Parker Collection, sold exclusively at all Macy’s stores as well as online. The 17-piece collection features a range of dresses, blouses, matching sets, and pants that hug and highlight curvy women in all the right places.
There’s a growing gap between the fashion industry’s idea of plus size fashion and the reality of what it actually is. What’s considered plus size in the fashion industry is actual standard in society. The shapes and sizes we see in ad campaigns don’t always reflect the reality of most women. With that in mind, Parker designed a collection that speaks to the various characteristics of a plus size woman’s body.
“Well this is the thing, I think a lot of times when you get plus size clothes, they’re not designed by plus size women. I’m a top heavy plus woman and so for me, who we pick for our fit model is important. When I look online, a lot of times I see plus models who have flat stomaches. I do not have a flat stomach and so for me, that’s not a realistic view of what I’m going to look like in the clothes. It was important for me that we had a fit model that had a little bit of back fat, a fupa, thick thighs, and a butt because I need to know that these clothes stretch, and will fit someone,” Parker said in an exclusive interview with HB.
Women want clothes that are stylish and fit them perfectly, no matter their size. Parker was tired going through hoops and fires to get cute clothes that fit her body. “I’ve been thick my whole life and as you get older it turns from thick to just big sometimes,” Parker laughed. “I don’t feel like that affects who you are. I’ve always had this disconnect where I didn’t understand why things just weren’t available in a larger size. It was just so confusing to me to go in a store and see things only up to a (size) 10 or 8. I just thought it was stupid, to be honest.”
Most plus size women have encountered a time where they’ve had to compromise comfort or style because of what’s available to them. Women have resorted to creativity so they can wear what they want and feel comfortable in it. “I just kinda wanted to shake the table a little because there’s so many women in my life who just have to make things work. We’ll take a white tank top and some ripped jeans, and our boyfriend’s jacket and make it something cute because this is what we can fit. I’m tired of having to make things fit. I want things that are made and tailored for me. Initially it was a selfish thing, like I just want something that looks good on me and then I realized this could be even bigger. This can go for all women who feel this way,” she continued.
While the collection won’t offer red carpet gowns just yet, you can expect lots of fun pieces in the near future. “I know the stories are out that I designed my own gowns at this point. I do that for myself, I eventually would love to do gala gowns and stuff like that for plus women so that’s definitely on my vision board. I’m delivering (a new collection) every month, so it’s not just this May collection. You’ll have a whole new collection in June. We take a break in July because of the summer, and then we come right back in August, September, October and November.”
What best about the Nina Parker Collection? You can shop it online and in stores. The ‘add to cart’ life is convenient, but sometimes its easier to go straight to the source where you can touch, feel, and try on a piece for yourself. Nina agrees.
“A lot of times when you’re buying plus, it’s only available online, which is great, but if you have a (last minute) event you can’t just go online and get it because you have to plan in advance. It’s going to be amazing because women can say ‘I have an event tomorrow, let me run into Macy’s and grab something from this collection,’ and feel really good about it.”
This business venture is a major win for women everywhere. Specifically for women of color, it is an inspiration to watch another Black woman trailblaze her way through an industry that hasn’t effectively made room for her. After designers basically said this is what we have to offer, take it or leave it, Nina Parker carved out her own lane, and built her own table. You can shop the Nina Parker Collection exclusively at all Macy’s stores and online. Be sure to follow her to keep up with the latest collection launches that will drop through the rest of the year.
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