If youâre one of the 90.8 million people who follow Kylie Jenner on Instagram, then youâve undoubtedly already heard of Fashion Nova, the Los Angeles-based fast fashion brand promoted by social mediaâs hottest stars.
A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on Mar 7, 2017 at 9:00am PST
Propelled by the likes of Jenner, Amber Rose, Cardi B., Dascha Polanco, Teyana Taylor, and an army of 3,000 to 5,000 amateur models called âinfluencers,â Fashion Nova has exploded to become Instagramâs biggest fashion retailer. CEO Richard Saghian refers to his company as a âviral store,â relying largely on the popularity of its celebrity and model influencers to spread word-of-mouth advertising to their followers.
Fashion Nova has also gained a reputation as a style refuge for fashion forward plus-size women, who face myriad difficulties finding trendy clothing. Though the average dress size for American women is currently 16, many retailers still refuse to carry plus-size clothing in their stores. And plus-size retail giants, like Lane Bryant, have faced criticism for their lack of trendy styles.
Hence the fly-off-the-shelves popularity of Fashion Novaâs cute, trendy, celebrity-approved âPlus Size & Curveâ section with curvy women â and the major backlash the brand faced just last week, when plus-size model Tabria Majors noticed that Fashion Nova hired thin, straight-size women to model its plus line on their website.
â@fashionnovacurve why do you use size 2 models to represent your plus size line? #questionsthatneedanswers,â Majors captioned her post, which has garnered nearly 15,000 likes.
A post shared by Tabria Majors (@tabriamajors) on Mar 27, 2017 at 8:41am PDT
âThey don’t seem to mind using plus-sized girls on their Instagram to promote their line,â one commenter replied. âSomething is weird.â
Majors agrees that something is weird, telling The Post that while Fashion Nova regularly recruits popular plus-size models for its Instagram influencer army, âtheyâre not willing to pay curve models the same rate as their straight-size models.â So they hire skinny models to promote straight and plus size lines on their e-commerce website instead.
âThe plus-size industry brings in so much money for these clothing brands, especially now since itâs so on-trend,â Majors continued. âBody positivity is massive, yet theyâre not willing to compensate [plus-size] models for their brand. Itâs sending mixed signals.â
The Post spoke to several plus-size models who work with Fashion Nova as influencers. A few seasoned negotiators make $100 to $150 per Instagram post (though Vice reports that some influencers make up to $2,000 per post), but many work solely for free clothing and the hope that prime placement on the brandâs main Instagram page â which boasts a whopping 7.2 million followers â will lead to more lucrative offers from other brands in the future.
âI donât really care about the money,â one of the brandâs plus-size model influencers, who has an Instagram following of 250k and rakes in $100 per post on Fashion Nova, told The Post. âWhen other brands see I have a lot of followers, then theyâll reach out to me and ask how much I charge.â
Problem is, while Fashion Novaâs straight-size influencers all appear on the 7.2-million strong main page, the curvy girls get shafted. Plus-size influencers are featured on Fashion Nova Curve, which only has 295k followers. Their photos are occasionally cross-posted to the main account, but you have to scroll through roughly three dozen pics of Kylie clones before reaching a single woman above a size 14.
A post shared by Fashion Nova Curve â¢ (@fashionnovacurve) on Apr 10, 2017 at 12:22pm PDT
âI hate how they have to make a separate Instagram for their plus-size line,â Majors said. âI donât know why they canât post them on their regular page. What are you really saying, here?â
Regardless of the significantly smaller rate of exposure, $100 to take a selfie in a free outfit, with added free exposure, doesnât sound like such a bad deal. But as multiple influencers explained to The Post, thereâs a lot more to it than that. Influencers are incentivized to post professional-looking shots thanks to a promotional code. This code offers discounts to the modelâs followers, and also allows Fashion Nova to track her sales.
The model is not paid a commission on her sales, but the more a modelâs code is used, the higher the likelihood sheâll be booked again â hence an impetus to produce high-quality photos with hair, makeup, and lighting on point; photos that will make her followers want to buy her clothing. One influencer, who makes $150 per post and asked to remain anonymous, told The Post that âif you include makeup, blogging [the outfit], and editing,â staging and shooting a Fashion Nova photo often takes up her entire eight-hour work day.
Consider that agency-backed models, like the ones Fashion Nova hired to model plus clothing on its e-commerce site, can fetch anywhere from $500 to $1000 for that exact same work day â Stetts Model Management founder Ashley Stetts told The Post that Fashion Nova models likely pull in around $750 per shoot â and itâs easy to understand why models like Majors are growing tired of brands like Fashion Nova offering plus-size girls pennies in exchange for placement on a 295k Instagram page. Especially since, as one influencer explained, the plus-size items she promotes often sell out within hours, thanks to the aforementioned dearth of fashionable curvy clothing.
A post shared by Amber Rose (@amberrose) on Feb 4, 2016 at 12:17pm PST
âThe reason why they hired the size-2 models is to save them money,â the influencer explained. âRather than hiring more models for Curve, what they did was have the same people come in for that one photo shoot. But if plus-size models modeled straight-size clothing, [straight-size shoppers] wouldnât take another look.â
So not only is Fashion Nova giving its straight-size influencers more prominent placement on social media, itâs also leaving plus-size models off its e-commerce website entirely â even though its plus-size influencers have undeniably boosted the brandâs popularity within the market.
Virtually all of the influencers who spoke with The Post still maintain that Fashion Nova is a âplus-size friendlyâ brand, but its growing popularity hasnât necessarily paid off for the curvier women promoting it â who are all very aware that there will always be another girl who is willing to model for free right behind them.
âI think they are plus-size friendly,â one influencer concluded. âI just think that theyâre cheap.â
(New York Post has reached out to Fashion Nova for comment.)