Each May, we celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and because of this we wanted to shine a spotlight on Asian creators in the plus size community who are an essential and valuable voice, and we are so excited to share our conversation with Doyeon Yoni Yu of C’est D today.
We first discovered Yoni via her TikTok and was instantly a stan of her designs by C’est D, as well as the inherent empowering message behind her content. She talks quite a bit about her experiences as someone who is considered mid-size here in the United States (while being considered plus size in her native Korea!), how societal and familial fat shaming was a major aspect of her experiences growing up, and most importantly – how she has unlearned so much of the self hatred to embrace herself in all her glory!
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We recently had the opportunity to chat with Yoni via Zoom, and it was a delightful conversation. We talked about size inclusive fashions, body positivity, Korean entertainment industry beauty standards, and why there aren’t more plus size voices heard from the AAPI community.
And we of course discussed her VERY size inclusive clothing line, C’est D (Available in sizes XXS – 6XL), and she spilled the tea on the inspiration behind her spring/summer collection, which is out now!
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@yoni0323 wear whatever makes you feel ‘GOOD’ 💅🏻 #wearwhatyouwant #stylenotsize #bodypos #bodyconfi #midsizefashion #midsizestyle #selflove #selfcare #inclusivefashion ♬ original sound – Tik Toker
Meet Yoni of size – inclusive fashion brand C’est D!
A: How do you describe C’est D to someone who has never heard of your brand?
Y: I would say that my brand’s big motto is Inclusivity & Diversity. Those are the two main goals of my brand – of course, through fashion. Fashion is such an essential part of our lives. We feel the most comfortable in our clothes in our daily lives.
My brand’s mission is to support and empower people to embrace themselves as they are. This is pretty difficult these days because social media sets up a standard to be a certain image. I hope that my brand gives them a breakthrough so that they can step forward to become their true selves.
A: Fatphobia and lack of plus size representation is pretty universal, but I feel like there’s a huge discrepancy specifically in the Asian community. There isn’t a huge wealth of plus size representation there. Why do you think that’s the case? And why don’t you think more people are empowered to be a beacon of change like you have?
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Y: Definitely comparing my childhood to today, Asian society is slowly supporting the change but not enough. They are still very strict about enforcing unrealistic body standards (Like the “Idol” image). It’s been fixed for so long, it’s very hard to break the mold. Compared to Western culture, Asian culture tends to see society as a group. If you aren’t included in this group, you’re a black sheep and they don’t want to hang out with you.
In the U.S., I feel like you are different or unique, people want to look at you and check you out and they exclude you less. This is how the Body Positivity and Empowerment movement was embraced. It’s happening in Asia, but it feels like a majority of the audiences are reluctant to accept that.
Based on my personal experiences in Korea, K-Pop idols and Korean celebrities follow a very strict body image. You have to have a certain body shape to be successful. I feel like that’s an important thing lacking. If they show more body diversity, more plus size people in Asian countries would feel empowered to stand up and be seen.
@yoni0323 I’m my own aesthetic ✌🏼 #whenwomenwin #selflove #selfconfidence #bodyposi #bodyconfi #midsizefashion #midsizeblogger #effyourbodystandards #bodydiversity #자존감 #플러스사이즈 #통통녀코디 ♬ Head vs. Heart – kyo
A: When you created your TikTok, was it your intention to be this voice for body positivity and inclusion? Or was it merely a happy accident?
Y: I made my TikTok to mainly market my brand. But in creating that content, I shared my experiences living in Korea and people really started paying attention to that and relating to it.
It turned a light on in my brain that I wasn’t the only person who had these experiences. I wished I had someone like that when I was younger, and I thought I can continue to talk about these things to empower them and show them they aren’t alone.
A: How did you think your work at C’est D has evolved since starting your brand?
Y: Ooh. That’s a very complicated question (laughs). When I first started the brand. I was planning to grow and expand it slowly. That’s why I set up a limited size range (XL – 3X) to have a more management workload.
After that launch, I decided to go all the way. I increased the size range to 6XL, which was a huge leap for me. I was a little intimidated, but I managed to do it. I’ve since expanded from XXS to 6XL. My future plan is to show more design diversity. I’m hoping I can create more design varieties in the future.
A: What inspires your aesthetic? When talking about your brand, for me, it definitely gives me major “Clueless” vibes: Skater, Punk, Preppy, Party and Glamorous!
Y: Everything I wanted to wear in the past and everything I want to wear now. While growing up, while studying fashion and while working in the fashion industry, there was always an empty spot that I wanted to fill. That’s the main focus on my brand.
I wanted to make clothes of different varieties I wanted to wear. I really wanted to put those dynamics and variety in my brand so that my audience can shop and they can find things to wear for every occasion.
@yoni0323 All of them are so comfy! Link in bio ✨ #inclusivefashion #whattowear #pantshaul #pleatedskirt #joggerstyle #midsizestyle #plussizefashion #통통녀코디 ♬ Yoncé – Atsuko Okatsuka
A: One of my favorite TikToks of yours is you doing the Beyonce drop challenge to showcase how stretchy and comfortable your bottoms are. When shopping for clothes, that’s a concern a lot of plus size people have, especially when buying bottoms. I loved that you were thoughtful of this and found an effective way to showcase your fashions in a fun, engaging way!
Y: I try to show off my designs in different ways and then show how the designs work, because those are factors that you consider when shopping. I try to be as transparent as possible, because that’s how I like to shop, too!
A: Last year, you debuted a collection during NY Fashion week, which you chronicled extensively on TikTok and social media, giving us a behind the scenes look at everything that goes into the process. Can you tell us more about the experience and share if you’re planning on doing it again this year?
Y: Fashion Week was definitely a lot of pressure and a lot of big and small things to do. It was a lot to handle. It became a milestone for my brand because it was the first show that I showcased the things that I sell. Previous fashion shows, I showed one piece that was a showpiece. More fashion-y pieces that you’d be hesitant to wear in your daily lives. This past show had more accessible and affordable pieces. I felt closer to my audience and that meant a lot to me.
A lot of people were supportive and happy about it, but I noticed that one of my casual pieces went viral on Twitter because people were being judgmental and fatphobic towards the plus size model. What’s funny is that nobody said anything bad about the smaller models wearing the same things.
FLEUR SET (COMES WITH BOTH CAMI & BLAZER) – Available in sizes xxs TO 6xl – $83.00
I realized we have a long way to go and this is why we have to keep pushing body diversity on the runway. Fashion models should represent us and I hope that more young designers can help bring about the change to open more eyes.
I won’t be showcasing during New York Fashion Week this year. I’m instead trying to build on my Spring/Summer collection that just was released and maybe next year I will showcase again with more Avant Garde designs.
F. T. S Top (BLACK) – AVAILABLE IN SIZE XS TO 6XL – $42.00
F. T. S Top (GREEN) – aVAILABLE IN SIZES XXS TO 6XL – $42.00
A: What’s inspiring you now? What trends are you eager to pursue? What turns you on when it comes to the design process?
Y: Y2K vibes. I’m so into it, but I don’t want to do it in the obvious way. So, I’m trying to figure out how I want to explore it. A lot of different fabrics and textures are coming. The things that I want to design and I’m interested in changes on a daily basis.
A: That’s good though, I think you’ll never run out of ideas!
Y: Yeah, it’s a well that doesn’t ever dry. I have so many ideas that I’d like to execute, but I will do it little by little.
@yoni0323 Reply to @anotherblux welcome to my kitchen concert 🎤 #effyourbeautystandards #selflove #selfconfidence #bodyposi #bodyconfi #midsizefashion #diversityandinclusion #자존감 #자신감 ♬ I Don’t Want to Be – Gavin DeGraw
A: Lastly, we’ve talked a bit about fatphobia on social media and the vitriol, misinformation and judging that creators of size encounter. You certainly are no stranger to that. What motivates you to keep going despite the amount of hate you receive for your content?
Y: People tell me that having a size inclusive clothing brand is “promoting obesity” or “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.” Everybody of every size needs clothes and they deserve clothes to feel beautiful in… wherever they are in their self love journey.
Size doesn’t matter – we all need clothes to wear. We can’t walk around naked. That’s really simple logic: whatever size you are, you need clothes to go to school or to work.
A: Absolutely, clothing is a tool of self expression and every size deserves that right to express themselves through fashion!
Y: Nobody wants to wear ugly clothes when they are in some type of self love journey. Feeling cute or beautiful is so important. It’s the biggest motivation and beautiful clothes help that. Fat shaming is not motivational. It does nothing but give people depression.
That’s the prejudice that I want to break. Everybody deserves the right to dress however they want to!
Be sure to visit c’est d at www.cestd.com!
Do you know any AAPI plus size designers we should know about? Sound off in the comments!
Are you loving yoni & c’est d as much as we do?