When you start challenging popular culture, the media, and the very industry you work in – you’re going to get some push back, some negative comments, and you’re going to have days when you say: what the $%#& I have gotten myself into?!
When I launched #nomorelies, I had more than a few people ask me if I knew exactly what I was taking on and how much of an uphill battle I was in for. “The media will never change,” they told me. “The fashion industry is what it is,” they said. And you know what? Some days it is hard. And some days (like the day I questioned why Disney had to make Cinderella’s waist so small) I get hate mail and wonder why I open myself up to all the crazy out there. Some days I get discouraged as I flip through magazines, tv, commercials and even my own instagram feed and think – how is a mommy blogger in upstate NY going to tackle this beast? Then I “meet” people like Mallorie Carrington, the NYC fashion designer behind SmartGlamour and I realize that my dream of a more healthy and diverse portrayal of women in media is well within reach.
There is a movement happening. You might not hear about it; you might not read about it, but it’s happening. It’s still pocketed. It’s still fighting for its voice to be heard, but heard it will be because of campaigns like #nomorelies that aims to unite voices, brands like SmartGlamour, and people like Mallorie who aren’t afraid to break down walls and do something extraordinary: like make a dress than any woman can wear.
Think about that.
It is extraordinary for a clothing designer to create a dress than ANY woman can wear.
Who makes up these rules?
Or perhaps the better question to ask is: don’t you think it’s time we change them?
It might not be up there with clean water, food to eat, or an education, but I believe that every woman has the RIGHT to walk into a store and be able to find clothing that fits.
SmartGlamour challenges the status quo with its line of fashionable and trendy body-positive clothing. Finally women have the opportunity to be stylish at any size with American-made clothing that is fashion-forward and affordable.
I had the honor of interviewing Mallorie Carrington: designer, lady boss, and founder of SmartGlamour. I know you’re going to love this fiercely adorable feminist and fashion game-changer as much as I do. This girl is the real deal and she is changing the world, one dress and one life at a time.
I love the message behind SmartGlamour – it’s not just a clothing line, it’s a movement. Was it always your dream to be a fashion designer and to create a line that translates across all body types?
When I was young, I always thought I’d be a math teacher. It wasn’t until high school that I realized you could have a career in fashion design. At that point – I just wanted to have a small boutique in NYC. My best friend from high school, who helps me with event coordinating and bookkeeping for SmartGlamour, tells me that she remembers me telling her in high school that I wanted to make clothes for all sizes. I don’t remember saying that exact statement – but I do know that I never for a second thought I’d leave the majority of the population out.
What is the biggest challenge in designing for all sizes?
When it comes to designing – there is zero challenge in creating clothing for all sizes. I don’t create my designs by thinking of what body types it will “flatter” – I just design classic, fashionable, minimalistic pieces. They flatter because they fit properly – no other reason. There are no design tricks that I add in while sketching. I’m a firm believer that any woman of any size can wear any style as long as it fits. The challenge comes in driving women of all sizes to my line. Women are very used to being put in a box – straight size clothing, plus size clothing, petite clothing. SmartGlamour has no boxes – we are all inclusive – so sometimes it is hard to break through those ideas.
In your opinion, why don’t more clothing lines offer a larger variety of sizes?
I quite literally have no idea. I was at a talk a couple months ago given by the style director of InStyle magazine – and he said that of every designer they have asked that question to – no one has had an answer. Some designers say it’s too difficult to create proper fit for plus sizes – and to that I say – you just aren’t doing your job right. Some people cite larger sizes costing more money to produce as they take up more fabric – but I have one simple solution to that problem. My garments are priced off of my median sizes – XL/1X – it evens itself out in the end (that’s also the most commonly ordered size.)
I created the #nomorelies movement to not simply bring awareness to body image issues but to encourage activism – to demand a more healthy, diverse portrayal of women in media – to unite voices under a single hashtag to fight the “lies” that I believe we are fed. What do you believe are some of the biggest lies that women and young girls are conditioned to believe? What can we do to challenge them?
I think the overlying, number 1 biggest lie we are taught is that when we wake up – we are already not enough. That we need to put makeup on our face in order to leave the house. That we have to buy products in order to achieve an ideal unrealistic standard. And that we owe our appearances to those around us. To change this – we have to attack it from all angles, those of us who are creating images, media, and products need to promote confidence and empowerment. And those of us who are influencing, reviewing, and consuming products need to demand more and put our money where our mouths are. Instead of making the idea of being and feeling beautiful the enemy – we need to change the definition.
What is your biggest dream in terms of fashion and media representation of women? How does that translate into your dreams for your company?
My biggest dream for the fashion industry and women’s representation in the media is for it to become all inclusive. One of my favorite places to people watch is the NYC subway. There is such a mixture of people – I want ads to look like that. Like reality. I want to do away with airbrushing. This translates into SmartGlamour’s dreams by being exactly what we aim to do every time we put out a look book, promotional ad, or product shot. We try our best to include as many heights, weights, ages, sizes, shapes, and nationalities as possible. It’s unfortunately more difficult than you’d think to achieve this. I do not want to, nor do I, only hire models exclusively – I want to hire everyone – but the majority of women have been told their entire lives that they could never model – so they simply don’t apply.
Describe your design aesthetic in three words.
Classic. Feminine. Streamlined.
Did you struggle with body image growing up? If so, did you grow out of it? Are you now body confident and positive?
I struggled with body image through junior high school for sure. I had a growth spurt and became a very tall, very lanky, very thin young girl. And I hated it. I piled on tons and tons of bracelets and rings because I thought my arms looked like twigs. Fortunately for me, unfortunately for society, being “too thin” is socially acceptable so I was not bullied for this. As any kid – I got my share of mean comments: chicken legs, boney butt, square face, giraffe – etc – but nothing compared to real, true bullying that a lot of adolescents experience. In high school – I was very confident, most of which came from expressing myself through clothing. I made a lot of my own clothes – I tore up jeans to make into skirts and back packs – and felt confident in the idea that I was creating my own style. As an adult – my personal body positivity comes and goes. A few years back, a coworker kept insisting I was “so thin” and “wasting away” – thinking she was complimenting me. Instead – she was bringing back that 13 year old girl. In the past 2 years – I’ve gone up one clothing size, and in my heart of hearts – I am 100% okay with it. When I look at my body – I love it. But every once in awhile, the idea sneaks in that being a large instead of a medium is intrinsically “bad” – when in fact, it’s not. It doesn’t mean anything at the end of the day. Having a little extra skin at my midsection means nothing except for the size of my pants – we have been taught that curves and fat are bad, no matter how healthy or unhealthy you might be. I fight everyday to prove that’s not true.
If you could give one message to young girls what would it be?
If I could give one message to young girls it would be – to be their own kind of beautiful. I don’t want girls to grow up into women who feel badly about self care, or being confident, put together and fashionable women. But I also don’t want them to grow up tying their worth into those factors. Girls should focus on being the best version of themselves that they can be – and blocking out any negative outside sources that try to convince them otherwise. You can be smart and sexy, fashionable and serious, pretty and intelligent – but none of those things matter more than the person you are on the inside at the end of the day. How you treat people, how you make others feel, how you treat yourself – that is what matters.
What organizations/individuals do you look up to as pioneers in the body confidence movement?
When it comes to body positivity – there is such a lovely and welcoming community built entirely through social media. You have inspiring women like Tess Holliday, Elly Mayday, Georgina from FullerFigureFullerBust, Nadia Aboulhosn, and Jes Baker. You have empowering support groups like #PizzaSisters4Lyfe, #Effyourbeautystandards, #Bodylove4all, etc. The community is there and waiting for you to join!
Tell me about #measuremebeautiful. How can my readers get involved?
#MeasureMeBeautiful is a body positive campaign that we created at SmartGlamour and then partnered up with Sydney Stone of Stylaphile (a body positive fashion blog.) We launched it over the summer, teaching women to embrace their measurements and see them as simple information – not something that holds any weight when it comes to their worth, beauty, intelligence, or drive. We released a video at the campaign’s launch of myself interviewing women in Union Square in NYC. I asked them multiple questions related to how they felt about their bodies, why, and if they knew their measurements. I had them guess – and then measured them to show them how off they were. Almost no one got even close. It’s important to create a relationship with your body, know it, understand it, and accept it. The numbers you come up with on a measuring tape mean nothing other than how much fabric I need to cut a pattern for your clothing. That’s all. And buying clothing that fits from the start will help to reduce the negative stigma surrounding shopping, fitting rooms, and trying on clothes. Readers can watch the video and learn more by visiting www.measuremebeautiful.com. They can then join in by taking the #MeasureMeBeautiful challenge – which is simply posting a photo of yourself with your measurements, tagging SmartGlamour and/or Stylaphile and adding the hashtag. These challenge photos empower and encourage other women to know their bodies and accept them as well. Every month we choose one participant at random to win a $100 SmartGlamour gift card courtesy of Stylaphile.
What’s next for Smart Glamour?
Up next for SmartGlamour is releasing our 3 month long pop up store in NYC. From March 6th – May 30th, we will be running the first and only boutique where every woman of every size can shop for the same designs, at the same price, in the same place – and have the option to customize them all for an affordable price. At the store – to ensure that it is not just a place to shop but also a comforting, empowering, and educational environment – we will be hosting weekly events from trunk shows with other ethical designers and shopping nights with bloggers to self confidence classes and panel discussions. All events will be listed on our website and social media – and are welcome to any and all self identifying women. We hope to see you there!
Here’s what you can expect at the Smart Glamour Pop Up Boutique:
Think Mallorie should be my new BFF? Me too!
Can’t get enough of this fabulous company? Stay in touch!
Happy Monday kids! Make it a great week!