‘Paltry excuses’: Ashley Graham and Emma Grede talk fashion’s size inclusivity backslide


Vogue: Emma, this is the seventh open casting. How was the response and what did you learn from this edition?

EG: It’s so crazy because it really does get more and more popular every year. It’s a signal to the industry of how much opportunity there is, because I’m telling you that there are very, very few brands that could command thousands of women queuing outside. It’s a signal of what is really needed and what is important to customers in this. They feel it’s representative of them. They really feel like they are seen, heard and represented through what we are doing.

Vogue: When we do the size inclusivity report, one excuse that we’ve heard is that there’s not enough mid-size or plus-size model talent. What do you say to that?

AG: If we peel that back a little bit, what does that mean? I’m sorry. I find that as paltry an excuse as “samples are expensive”. This is not a day and age where we struggle for connection, in the age of social media where you are able to go into the depths of whichever place in the world and find new faces and individuals. It’s not an excuse that can really stand up anymore.

Vogue: Thinking about Good American as a business, how has being size inclusive benefited the bottom line?

EG: I think it’s undoubtable. It really comes down to the dollars and cents of it, right? There’s a lot of excuses around this space. How expensive it is, how tough it is finding the right staff, the right resources. But this comes down to where the decisions are made and what we think is truly important. We’ve always prioritised the bottom line. Good American has been a profitable company from day one. You don’t need to lose money because you decide to service more customers. If you have a brand and the end product is more accessible to more people, chances are you’ve got a bigger stage, a broader customer base.

Vogue: What barriers exist for the rest of the industry?

AG: When you’re thinking about a bigger body, when you’ve notoriously been dressing very small bodies, it’s a completely different system. And yes, you have to put money into it. Are there some legit excuses? Yes. But I know way too many young designers and people who don’t have any money that are doing it, and they’re doing it very well. You have to take the leap of faith and you just have to do it, because people will come and they will buy and they will continue to buy.