Most Influential Projects 2022

20 The Curve Edit

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | Asia Pacific
The Curve Edit

For making a plus-size fashion statement 

Even as clothing brands expand their sizing and apparel ads showcase more diverse body shapes, fashion shows have remained stubbornly homogenous. In a word: thin. Size inclusivity may have tiptoed onto fashion week catwalks in the past, but plus-size models have typically been a minority—if they’ve been included at all. In the late 2022 season, plus-size models repped just 2 percent of total castings at shows, per a report by The Fashion Spot. And that was an increase.

“The challenge, every season, to get even one or two models over a size 12 onto a fashion week runway is enormous,” says Chelsea Bonner, CEO of Bella Management. So the Sydney modeling agency opted for a more fashion-forward look by organizing The Curve Edit, the first-ever runway show at Australian Fashion Week dedicated exclusively to plus-size brands.

With a modest AU$100,000 budget and less than two months before the big event on 12 May, the team partnered with six local brands to source runway-ready looks: 17 Sundays, Saint Somebody, Embody Women, Vagary the Label, Harlow and Zaliea Designs

To show off the 84 looks, ranging from swimwear to evening gowns, Bella Management chose 25 plus-size models from its roster. And though Bonner says she never doubted the models would slay, the resulting cheers, thunderous applause and sheer emotion among the 650 attendees still caught her by surprise. 

“You just never, ever get reactions like that from a runway crowd,” she says. “Everyone in that room knew that we were creating a change that was so overdue and would be long-lasting.” (Watch the fashion show here.)

Indeed, The Curve Edit’s impact began even before the first model strutted down the runway: Soon after the show was announced, Bella Management was flooded with requests from designers interested in casting plus-size models. Nearly two dozen of the women from The Curve Edit were also booked for other shows during Australian Fashion Week. 

And that’s where Bonner wants to be a fashion trendsetter, using the project—and its response—to push the industry toward greater size inclusivity. As model Jess Rae King, who walked The Curve Edit, said on Instagram: “For once, I will be leaving fashion week feeling hopeful and inspired for what is to come.”