Tracy Reese

Tracy Reese

The Designer Who Has Long Championed Diversity, On and Off The Runway

Like several other major fashion designers who have always celebrated women and diversity (Donna Karan and Diane Von Furstenberg come to mind. Christian Siriano and Chromat’s Becca McCharen-Tran are relatively new, but just as impactful champions for change and inclusion), it’s Tracy Reese who has remained steadfast in her dedication to creating inspiring clothing for modern, stylish women while always considering all ethnicities, shapes and ages from designing her collection to casting her runway shows.

It’s no wonder Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey and longtime and notable fans of Reese’s clothing, which always include chic day dresses, whimsical separates, boldly colored prints and feminine silhouettes that fall into an attainable price point.

Reese has always done this. Before inclusive fashion became a thing and before the audible call for diversity on the runway in media, the designer was and still does put a lot of stock in celebrating all women.

Here, Reese tells us about what inspires her creatively and the uncharted aspect/challenge of making larger sizes.

"I would love to see more large size models and mature models used in beauty ads, catalogues and on e-comm sites. It would be a more true reflection of the population. Customers need to see themselves reflected in ads and editorial."

Q & A With Tracy

Do you think the fashion industry has come far in being more inclusive?

The diversity and inclusiveness that we are really just beginning to see is very exciting but much more needs to be done! I would love to see more large size models and mature models used in beauty ads, catalogues and on e-comm sites. It would be a more true reflection of the population. Customers need to see themselves reflected in ads and editorial. I think the ads and layouts I have seen with more diverse and inclusive casting look so much more modern and rich. It’s truly thrilling. I hope we see much, much more!

You have long championed diversity and inclusion through your collection and casting. Were there ever challenges or setbacks you faced when trying to deviate from traditional fashion "norms" or standards in the past?

For many years, the agencies would send only very few non-white models to castings. We always had to make a special request and the well from which to choose was shallow. That has improved! Since we have extended our sizing, the main challenge is finding consistent sizing among larger size runway, fit and photo models. There does not really seem to be an industry standard to refer to. I want to be sure I am making samples in a larger sizes for the extended size model,s but when I request size 18 models, the agencies send an array of models in sizes 12-22. We offer all of those sizes for production, but we can only afford to sample in one of them.

In this era of female empowerment (and always) who are some of the women you most admire and that inspire you?

I love Oprah! She is endlessly inspiring! Of course, Michelle Obama - down to earth, yet majestic and kind! Cecile Richards, she is dedicated to protecting the rights of all women.

What are a few of the things that inspire you creatively?

The eternal cycles of nature with the resurrection of spring being my favorite inspiration. I am also always inspired by art, interior design and textiles and the challenge of creating beautiful, truly useful items for modern women.

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