Remember the so-called thigh-gap? Back in 2013, model Robyn Lawley posted a picture on Facebook where her thighs were touching. According to The Guardian, Lawley’s post was met with a deluge of negative comments, shaming her for not having space between her thighs. And so, the “thigh gap” became popular as a term. Even though Lawley publicly spoke out against her detractors, it was too late: a new way to make women feel shameful or desired by the size of their bodies had taken shape in the collective consciousness.
Fast-forward five years, and you’ll find that fashion designers are casting fuller-figured models in their shows, and body positivity is more than a marketing ploy—it’s the ideology behind a new lingerie line. Enter Bandelettes, a New York label that fashions accessories designed to eliminate chaffing. Thigh bands by Bandelettes resemble garters, or the elastic rim of a thigh-high, and are designed to reduce the friction caused by chaffing. The line has collaborated with Becca McCharen-Tran, the Bushwick designer behind the house Chromat, and Bandalettes thigh bands have been featured in several Chromat runway shows. McCharen-Tran is known for being one of the first designers to cast diverse models (including curvy, transgender, and amputee models) in her shows. Chromat is also size-inclusive, stocking sizes ranging from XS to 3XL, which is rare for a ready-to-wear label.
The newest body-positive initiative from Bandelettes is the label’s collaboration with plus-size designer Ashley Nell Tipton. Tipton, a San Diego native, made a name for herself as the winner of Project Runway season 14. This month, her Limited Edition Bandelettes by Ashley hit the shelves.
“Having a background working in plus-size fashion and having personally suffered from thigh chafing my entire life, I was so excited to work with Bandelettes to create these limited edition Bandelettes,” explains Tipton.
“I think that fashion should be comfortable, functional and stylish for women of all shapes and sizes, and should make you feel great, and that’s what Bandelettes are all about.”
Tipton, who advises young designers to “stay true to yourself and find a niche,” has a contract with JC Penny to design and be the face of their “plus-size” Boutique + and has her own jewelry line with K&M Accessories. She also says that aspiring designers should “get an education, and don’t take shortcuts.” In addition to dropping her Bandelettes collaboration, Tipton launched her own brand of eyewear, and continues to consult for leading plus-size labels.
Her collaboration with Bandalettes gave Tipton a chance to “add something to them that really caught the eye.” She says, “I wanted to make them even sexier.” Although the design collaboration adds something to the plus-size community that isn’t “really addressed,” the designer notes that “the holes [in the plus-size fashion industry] are everywhere. My hope is to fill those holes. It seems like this is a never-ending void in the market.”