Torrid Debuts @ NYFW

September 28, 2017

As Fashion Month nears its end for the Spring/ Summer 2018 season, I look back on my experience at New York Fashion Week. A few years ago, I could only dream of attending such a glamorous event. There were many personal fashion highlights, such as seeing Anna Dello Russo rock THE $10,000 Yves Saint Laurent boots in person, or catching a glimpse of my imaginary bestie, Derek Blasberg, exiting the Michael Kors show. The real headliner of the week, though, was the Torrid show: the first plus-sized label to be shown on the official roster of the recently renamed “NYFW: The Shows.”

If you aren’t familiar with the brand, Torrid is an American fast-fashion retail chain for women who wear a sizes 10-30. Their affordable clothing stores are a staple in shopping malls across the country. Unlike many of the brands shown at NYFW, Torrid is a brand made for the everyday woman. Their spot on the New York Fashion Week roster essentially gave them the platform to be the voice for plus size fashion this season, and the chance to help shape the way it is viewed in the industry. The pressure was on.

Of the upcoming show, CEO Kay Hong said “Ultimately our objective is to show great fashion combined with body positivity and inclusivity.” Torrid isn’t to blame for the lack of progression in this industry. They’ve been around since 2001! But with the cry for fashionable plus size clothing louder than ever, it doesn’t feel like a lot of brands are listening. It’s a novelty when body diversity is on display at a fashion show. People are frustrated, and they want Torrid to rise to the occasion.

Lining up at the Skylight Clarkson Square venue, I was relieved to see that the attendees seemed as excited and eager for the show as I was. I was just so happy to be on the inside of NYFW that I almost felt like I was being a little naughty…was there a mistake? Surely I’m not cool enough to have actually been invited to a show, right? Many others, from what I gathered via friendly chit-chat in the queue, were  simply thrilled that clothes in their size were finally being shown on models that looked like them. The crowd was vibrant, enthusiastic and of course, extremely fashion forward. Admittedly, I was giddy when blogger Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What , who is essentially the face of New York Fashion Week on Instagram, glided past me to her seat. The same went for when Miss J. Alexander was escorted in to front row. Maybe this show really was a big deal, I thought. Plus Size fashion is officially on the map.

The typical press and influencers lined the front row, and that later created a bit of a stir online. According to her Instagram, Danielle Bernstein was paid to attend, which was an awkward choice for the brand. She’s enormously popular on social media, hence why I was excited to see her. But she’s also quite thin, and she certainly isn’t known for her body positivity advocacy. Perhaps Torrid hoped that by having the same sort of guests and press attend their show as the other shows on the roster had, the brand would be viewed in the same light, rather than just being the token plus size show that week.

The show itself had some really great pieces that I imagine would look fabulous on each and every body type. The military jacket, dreamy white maxi dresses, and lace overlays were winners in my book.

Admittedly, some of the other pieces felt a step behind; this season as opposed to next. Light wash distressed denim and corset-cinched waists for plus size girls? Curvy girls are here to take fashion risks, not simply settle for frocks that have been handed to them. The women in line with me were clearly the type to set trends! I’m still daydreaming of the outfit of a woman I saw in a satin pink pajama-style set with slicked back hair and pointy stilettos. The fact is that Torrid is a fast fashion retailer, and mall stores weren’t created to set trends. First it hits the runway, THEN it hits F21/Zara/Mango.

The show itself was a success. Sports Illustrated model Hunter McGrady walked in the show, among all of the other babes like Stella Duval, Bree Kish and Anita Marshall to name a few. The brand’s third annual Model Search competition closed the show and brought smiles and applause to the attendees. The 10 finalists of the competition strutted down the catwalk and were the glimmer of hope that more plus sized models, and more plus sized brands, will be the future of fashion week. Torrid’s NYFW show proved that they can set the stage for how the industry views plus sized women and clothing. They had the venue, the press, and the influencers. They showed that they can be on trend, but now it’s time that they start the trends, and that is what we hope to see in the future from them. With a bit of fine tuning, Torrid has the chance to be on top of the plus size world. Otherwise, they will have paved the path for someone else to be.

Their appearance on the roster of NYFW should be a call to arms for other brands to get it together and extend their sizing. We’re looking at you, Zara! Trends right off the runway, but altered for curves, is just what the industry needs. In the meantime, shop some of the cutest pieces for curvy girls below.

More about Charlotte O'Neill

Just another PR girl with an itch to leave one big city for the next. Currently living in Boston's North End. Poster girl for the phrase “champagne taste on a beer budget”. Creature of habit. Lover of fashion and have an irrational addiction to French skincare. When I’m not writing I’m waiting tables and spending tips on traveling and concerts. My claim to fame is that I once took a selfie with Mario Testino, and Posh Spice is my spirit animal.