City Chic's Courtney Maxwell Talks Designing For Plus Size Bodies & What Influences Her

While there have been a plethora of brands that have stepped up and embraced the 14+ market (here's looking at you ModCloth), some brands are truly at the forefront of making size inclusivity a priority like City Chic. Face of City Chic and in-house designer Courtney Maxwell is helping move the brand forward in serving the plus market. I spoke with the multi-talented designer and model, who shared some incredible words of wisdom about designing for plus size bodies and how she and City Chic are working to embrace inclusivity and a hell of a lot of style in the 14+ market.

City Chic is one of the leading brands when it comes to plus fashion with items being sold in major retailers Nordstrom and Macy's. In March, the brand will be launching in Bloomingdale's as well. The brand is retailing globally and has been incredibly successful, gaining more than $100 million in sales. During their rise, Maxwell has been right there with the brand — since 2008, in fact. Maxwell explained that her involvement with City Chic began through a modeling competition with Cosmopolitan magazine stating, "I've been with the brand for a long time and started through City Chic's online and doing fit modeling. Probably quickly worked my way up to the face of the brand after the first six months, and now I'm lucky enough to have become one of their designers."

Design work and an understanding of plus bodies truly seem to be what makes City Chic the unique brand that it is. Maxwell explains, "We fit for confidence. We also focus on the fashion first model. It's not about plus size. It's about fit and flattering each shape and making sure we all feel curvy and confident." Maxwell is passionate about this — making sure women feel as confident as possible — and her work as a plus model informs her design work. Alongside listening to customer feedback, Maxwell tells Bustle, "The use of high quality and heavy weight products is a must with us that fit and flatter our body shape because at the end of the day City Chic's mantra that we live by is that that we want all our customers to feel bold, sexy, glam, and chic in all of our designs."

Like City Chic's mantra, Maxwell's design work is centered around making plus size women feel confident. She explains that her designs are influenced by her own curvier frame, saying, "We like to make sure we kind of nip in at the waist, maybe lower necklines, just to embody that confident feel and that feminine shape." Of course, plus size women shouldn't have to feel pressure to "flatter" or "nip in" their bodies, but the fight for size inclusivity in retail has always been about creating options. Some women will always prefer a tailored dress to a shift one, and vice versa. Maxwell clearly understands this.

City Chic has been part of the movement to push size inclusivity in the fashion industry forward and to shy away from the idea of plus being a category outside of the typical world of fashion. Maxwell explains that she does view a shift beginning in the industry towards focusing more on fit than size, and that's particularly important with the brand's upcoming denim relaunch. The relaunch is set to included updated leg lengths and fits, and Maxwell and the brand want to embrace women of all shapes. She says, "We've realized there's so many different shapes and lengths out there which we haven't really catered for before."

Through her work with City Chic, Maxwell is working to create a slice of the fashion pie that's inclusive, fun, and confidence-inducing. By focusing on fit, a tailored look for the 14+ body, and embracing diverse sizing, she's totally killing the body pos fashion industry, and it's just a waiting game to see what else is up next.

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