When I first heard that Rum + Coke designer Courtney Smith was choosing to exclusively feature plus-size women of color in her campaign imagery (though the range runs from sizes 2 to 24), I smiled. When I got to talk to her about it, I beamed. “From the inception, I knew I wanted to create a stylish plus-size line. I grappled with the decision to include straight sizes [like small, medium, and large] until I remembered why I started designing,” she said. “I am designing for a woman who is confident and self-assured. Those qualities have no size tag.”
Her clothing is on-trend, at a friendly price point, and it sells (I’m still nursing a majorly bummed-out feeling after seeing the skirt I had my eye on flash as sold-out). As I thought about it, glancing through all the options, I realized how refreshing it was that even though the pieces are shown on women curvier than me, it wasn’t difficult at all to picture myself wearing them. Like, at all.
“Representation is very important,” she explained when I brought up reports about her decision to exclusively use models who don’t fit the typically white, slender cookie-cutter mode. “There’s a lack of positive, empowering images of women of color and plus-size women, period. The decision to use [this model] was a natural decision for me to make. As a plus-size woman of color, I want to see someone like me wearing amazing clothing.”
She clarified too that she isn’t planning to use only black models going forward, and I get the definite feeling that she’s less interested in sticking to specific categories than showing women who look realistic and real.