Why is everyone calling pleather/faux leather vegan leather? And if you are curious yes, faux leather and vegan leather are the same thing with a high end branding name change. Let’s dive into the reasons why.
If you’ve been on social media at any point during these past few weeks, you have no doubt come across Saucye West’s Fight For Inclusivity campaign. For those who may be unfamiliar, Saucye West, a plus size model and fat activist, grew tired of brands catering to small fats (plus size people on the smaller end of the size spectrum).
She wanted a way to challenge brands, as well as the plus size community at large to demand more inclusive sizing for those on the larger end of plus.
Her call to action? Hold brands accountable and boycott brands that don’t go higher than a 3x.
This has made waves in the plus size community. Along with an overwhelmingly positive response, there has also been plenty of pushback to her campaign. I wanted to hear from the leader of this movement herself and had the enormous pleasure of chatting with Saucye.
Saucye West Chats With US About #FightForInclusivity
TCF: As people on the larger end of plus know, it’s really hard to find clothes that 1. Fit, and 2. That’s our style and not hella frumpy! And this has been an issue for years in plus size fashion – so I’m wondering, what was the thing that made you say “Okay, enough is enough.”?
Saucye West: I think within the past couple of years, with the emergence of more brands collaborating with plus sized influencers and creators, and seeing these brands cater to only one specific demographic in the community while claiming to be inclusive.
These companies are marketing to us, we’re getting their ads on Instagram, we’re seeing our favorite influencers wearing these clothes, but we can’t wear them (because they don’t carry our sizes) and I was like…”We are absolutely being excluded from an industry that claims that they’re inclusive!”
So, I was just stewing over it, and I was like you know what- I’m going to try to do something. I’m going to try to do something, and it’s gonna be a little bit bold. If I claim to be a leader in the activist community, then I have to look at the things that my community did before I even was a part of this community. And the things that my ancestors did, as well.
We took a stand, we fought.
And I felt like we (larger fats) were in this community for so long, being nice, cheering everybody else on but now, it’s time to put the heat on. Now it’s time that people get put on notice. And I think that’s what was the driving inspiration for this.
TCF: Yessss! Absolutely agree that the time has come for change! How have brands reacted to this boycott so far? Are you getting any feedback, positive or negative?
Saucye West: There have been a couple of brands that I’ve been in direct contact with that I personally want to be working with, but I can’t really talk about a lot right now. Nothing’s solidified yet. A lot of brands are giving the same response “we’re working on it”, but now I think people are using their voice and saying “no, you’ve been telling us this for a long time, and it hasn’t happened.”
If these brands get held accountable, it can lead to change. A lot of these companies have seen people commenting about this now. People are using their voices. So the conversation is on the table – whether they want to see it or not.
They need to show actionable proof or at least acknowledge the community, and let us know that they’re going to be working on this. If one or two brands show what they’re doing, it can absolutely be a catalyst for the rest of them to follow suit.
TCF: Absolutely. I mean, just seeing the number of comments people have been putting underneath plus size brands’ social media posts…it’s so huge! That’s why I love this quote that you said recently, “The Consumer Is The Real Influencer”… It’s so true! Can you explain to our readers what you mean by that, and how can we as consumers can utilize our power to create change?
Saucye West: The follower is the one that gave the big influencers their numbers (follower counts on social media platforms) so that these brands can even have them on their radar because as we all know, brands want to get the hottest person, that’s going to drive the most revenue to their company.
So, I feel like the follower has the right and the power to question the influencer, who has the closest touch point to the brand.
So if the follower (which is the consumer) is saying, “you know you know what, this isn’t fair. This isn’t right.”… There’s power there.
So, the consumer is the real influencer, they are the ones with the most power because if the influencer stops making money, the company stops making money.
TCF: I’ve heard this argument saying, “Let influencers be influencers, they don’t have to necessarily be fat activists”. What are your thoughts on that mind frame?
Saucye West: I feel like this is the biggest issue with the plus size fashion industry. People want to use fat advocacy to get their followers, but once they get popular, they remove the advocacy from their work and just want to focus on getting a check. The issue is that people remove politics from fashion. And the thing about being in a fat body is that we are political, period. So, people have to understand that you can’t remove that.
If you’re an influencer that claims to be body positive…The body positive movement was birthed from fat activism. So you can’t take away the politics from plus size fashion.
TCF: On a little bit more personal note, I wanted to check in with you, how are you handling becoming the leader of this movement and dealing with the scrutiny and criticism that brings?
Saucye West: Well, it can be overwhelming, But this is a labor of love for me. I’ve been in this community for a long time. And I feel like it is what I was meant to do, it’s my passion. It’s my passion for larger bodies to be visible.
Overall I’m doing okay… when you’ve been literally fat-shamed for years by family and by people who you don’t even know, nobody can really affect me in that aspect. I guess I’m pretty bulletproof when it comes to that. When you’re told daily that you probably should die just for existing.
To decompress, I just kind of have a moment with myself, and I say “you’re doing a good job. You’re doing the best that you can do, and you’re making, some kind of change.”
There’s also a lot of whiskey or bourbon involved as well. *laughs*
I’m grateful to see people using the hashtags. And the thing that makes me feel good the most, is that people are using their voices. That brings me so much joy! For years we’ve been told that we should just be grateful for what we have, be grateful for the scraps that are given to us in this industry. And I think it’s really amazing people are saying “I’m not being quiet no more”.
TCF: What’s your ultimate goal, or wish for #FightForInclusivity?
Saucye West: Right now, my goal is for there to be just any kind of forward movement with these brands. Like I said if I can have just a fourth of the brands that are on this list to make actionable moves, and to expand their sizing, and that’s a win for the community because that means that we have more options to add to our support.
I’d also love to see more fat visibility-larger bodies on these brands’ social media and websites. If you go to a size 40, Let’s see the size 40 model!
That’s what I want to see, I want true inclusivity. I want to see Trans models. I want to see models with visible disabilities. I want to see everybody be included in the conversation of fashion.
We deserve that.
So if I can start in this little corner of fashion, it may inspire other really amazing movements for everybody to be included. I think the goal for any kind of initiative to incite change is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be this big huge boom, the little steps matter just as much.