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Project Runway debuted their 16th season this week and with it came a major shakeup. For the first time ever, the popular reality show will include a roster of models who range from sizes 0 to 22.

Though the average model typically is a size 00, according to a recent study the average American woman is a size 16. For women watching at home and for the fashion industry, it was time for a change, according to Project Runway co-host and former Liz Claiborne Chief Creative Officer Tim Gunn.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for quite a number of seasons,” Gunn candidly told USA Today. “To be blunt, the network has been quite nervous about it. The whole fashion industry is nervous, despite the fact that people are now talking about size inclusivity.”

Following the groundbreaking announcement, people on Twitter were definitely talking about the body-positive inclusiveness of the design competition, so much so that it was the number one trending topic that entire night.


Even notable judge Nina Garcia chimed in with a timely quote from designer Donna Karan.

Though viewers were delighted with the change, designers on the show met the decision with mixed results. “I think the designers wanted to flee,” Gunn disclosed. “We didn’t tell them in advance.” In particular, Brandon Kee was noticeably distressed with the new challenge of outfitting models of different proportions than ones he’d designed for in the past. One designer in particular, though, was all for breaking barriers on the show. “I don’t have any personal feelings towards the wording as long as a plus-size model is not seen as a problem-size model,” designer Ayana Ife said.

We’re with host Heidi Klum on this one though. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, the former model said, “This is the real world. Not everyone is, you know, runway figure or what the runway figure used to be. You have to dress real people, and real people come in different sizes: short, tall, more voluptuous, skinny. There are many of us, and so a real designer needs to know how to do that. So get with it.”

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