Plus size women are all too often seen as quiet, shy and covered up due to the simple fact that they don’t meet the current standards of what beauty ‘looks like’ in today’s society.
This notion is what two young women from Brampton, Ont. set out to challenge when they launched Flaws of Couture (FOC) clothing. The line’s name comes from the idea that the fashion world views plus size women as ‘flawed’.
“Big girls won’t text back either” and “Thighs Sooo Thick” are just two of several messages splashed across the chests of shirts from the apparel and accessories line created by Garcia Lewin and Sashagai ‘Sasha’ Ruddock.
Along with their energetic personalities and strong work ethic to match, the line’s founders used social media to build a brand that speaks to who they truly are, and the audience they intend to reach.
“There’s people who think that you can’t do anything because you’re a big girl, as if you can’t be beautiful and big.”
Originally starting out on Tumblr, with separate fashion blogs, the pair merged their individual blogs in 2010 to create “Full of Curves”, a fashion and inspiration blog, which evolved into a line.
“I want FOC to take over the world,” says Lewin, 23, rocking a mix of black and purple coloured hair and dressed in jeans and a black crewneck baring the words “Drake You Are the Father”.
Her mission is a bold one, but she’s not taking no for an answer.
“It’s OK to be beautiful and it’s OK to put yourself out there,” she adds.
Equally as bold and in your face, is 25-year-old Ruddock, who isn’t going to let a stereotype of how society thinks she, or any other plus size woman, should look or act get in her way.
“I’m not going to wear … a coat to the beach because you feel like you can’t handle my fat,” says Ruddock, as she pushes her long flowy black hair out of her face.
“Pretty for a Big Girl?” was the first statement shirt that the fashion mavens ever released and according to both girls, it means much more than one may think.
“‘Pretty for a big girl’ comes from everyone,” says Ruddock. “Family does it, friends do it, girls do it, guys do it. There’s people who think that you can’t do anything because you’re a big girl, as if you can’t be beautiful and big.”
The statement is something that every plus size woman hears all too often and the ladies knew that their audience could easily relate.
“We knew that if any big girl looked at that statement on a sweater, a lightbulb would completely go off,” Ruddock adds.
“We are very aggressive. We have a message to get across and you can’t do it when you’re being humble or meek.”
The line’s creative and relatable statements, coupled with a strong social media presence on platforms like Instagram, play a large role in the success of the brand, helping to create a “virtual wave” according to Ruddock.
Instagram helped gain actress Danielle Brooks’ attention, who is known for performing in Broadway’s The Color Purple, and her reoccurring role as Taystee on “Orange is the New Black”.
Brooks, who is an advocate for body image and curvy women herself, posted a photo wearing the pair’s “Thighs Sooo Thick” T-shirt, with the caption “THIGHS SO THICK and HAPPY BOUT IT!” taking both Lewin and Ruddock by surprise.
Like Brooks, both women say they feel strongly about standing up to how society views them. They use Miss Piggy as an example.
“She is a pig, but nobody can tell her anything,” says Ruddock. “At the end of the day Miss Piggy is world renowned and people always associate with sexiness and sex appeal with her, even though she’s big.” It’s the same way, Ruddock says, women of all sizes should own their sex appeal.
Unapologetic for who they are and how they look, both of the fashion mavens are no holds barred when it comes to speaking up and getting their message across. “We are very aggressive,” says Ruddock. “We have a message to get across and you can’t do it when you’re being humble or meek.”
Kaity Wuebbolt, a model for FOC, says she believes in Ruddock and Lewin’s vision.
“They’re kind of like rump shakers in the plus size industry,” says Wuebbolt, who was immediately drawn to the brand when she saw a post of the “Pretty for a Big Girl?” shirt on Tumblr even before she started modelling with them, and the message stuck.
“For me, how I found my confidence as a plus size woman is that I saw other plus size women living the way FOC does. I’m not going to let people hold me back and I’m not going to let the so-called rules of fashion dictate what I can and can’t wear,” adds Wuebbolt.
With all of this success under Lewin and Ruddock’s belts, they have even bigger plans for what’s to come with FOC.
“We want [FOC] to be a one-stop shop with everything you can think of for all plus-size girls,” states Lewin, speaking their goal into the atmosphere.
Photos By. Janelle Scott-Johnson & Chantal ‘Rose’ Gregory © Urbanology Magazine