Supermodel Emme and Syracuse University Fashion Design Program Team Up with OneStopPlus for the 8th Annual Fashion Without Limits Design Competition

The winner of the Fashion Without Limits competition, Nina Chen pictured with Emme and Zahir Babvani.

SYRACUSE, N.Y., June 28, 2023 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Supermodel Emme, the Division 1 college athlete who put “athletic curvy” on the map and rose to fame in the mid-1990’s as the world’s first plus-size Supermodel, is once again shedding light on size inclusivity in the fashion industry. Teaming up with her alma mater Syracuse University and online plus-size retailer OneStopPlus (OSP), the nationally recognized advocate for body positivity, health and wellness is promoting fashion inclusivity in the classroom with the 8th annual Fashion Without Limits (FWL) design competition.

Emme enlisted the help of fellow advocate and veteran plus-size fashion designer Zahir Babvani, head of design & style for OneStopPlus, to inspire a new generation of up and coming fashion designers to put their talents to work for the silent majority — the estimated 70 percent of American women who wear sizes 12 and up. As head designer at OSP, responsible for the company’s growing roster of popular plus-size brands, including Woman Within, Jessica London, June+Vie, Roaman’s, Catherines, and Eloquii, Babvani held a rousing virtual masterclass on plus-size design and style for the University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts Fashion Design class of 2024. Couching the exciting world of plus-size fashion design in a real-world industry context, Babvani provided a crash course on bringing a garment to market in the growing women’s plus-sized sector in the United States. Offering essential business insights and tips for designing clothes plus-size women want to wear, Babvani challenged the group of future designers to create the next “it” style for curvy women, keeping in mind today’s inflation-weary shoppers, the heightened demand for versatility, and the customer’s need for a superhero multi-tasker piece to serve all her style needs, from casual to work to dressy.

More than 20 students competed for the chance to have their original designs manufactured and brought to market for fall 2023. The winning designer, Nina Chen, found inspiration for her “Tulip Dress” in nature’s bountiful curves. Chen’s modern-classic black dress, which is made of Ponte knit fabric, is tailored to flatter all body shapes. The “Tulip Dress” is slated to debut on the OneStopPlus marketplace this fall as part of an exclusive collaboration between OneStopPlus and Emme’s Fashion Without Limits groundbreaking partnership with Syracuse University. The winning garment will feature special hangtags giving the student designer name recognition and a taste of celebrity, while also bolstering the FWL program.

“I came into fashion so passionate about many issues in the industry, but inclusive design was not on my radar,” says Chen. “Through my journey working on the competition and now interning with OneStopPlus, I’m learning that, with the right approach and mindset, inclusive design can and should be a part of every fashion designer’s portfolio.” Chen adds that the competition has inspired her to think more about the end user of her designs. “Emerging designers tend to focus on ‘cool’ fashions that we would wear. Emme and Zahir really helped me to understand the importance of making fashion accessible to all women, and I look forward to being more inclusive with my designs throughout my career.”

Supermodel Emme says that she created this competition to galvanize the design school community around the exciting career opportunities in one of the fastest growing, yet most under-served, segments of the fashion industry. The 1985 Syracuse University grad, athletic Hall of Famer, and Fashion Without Limits founder says, “Learning from successful designers like Zahir Babvani shows young designers that this is a rewarding career path. Syracuse University is at the forefront of making inclusive design an exciting area of concentration, giving tomorrow’s designers the skills, and ability, to enact real change on the fashion landscape. We hope this program will become a template for other schools moving forward.”

For her winning design, Chen received a $500 prize from Syracuse University, as well as a Summer 2023 internship with Babvani and his team in the company’s New York headquarters. In addition to experiencing all the business facets of a leading pioneer in size inclusive fashion, Chen will help spearhead the winning design’s evolution, from early CAD drawings through every stage of production to the finished product and launch. Chen will also receive a percentage of sales as part of the prize package.

“Putting your best self forward begins with dressing the part in clothes you know were made for you by a dedicated plus-size designer who understands your fit needs and your modern lifestyle,” says Babvani, who added that FWL empowers today’s design students to make a real difference in the lives of women who deserve access to beautiful, fashionable clothes to be their best selves, be it in the workplace, at home or anywhere in the world. “I selected this design because it embodies modern style for the real woman. It’s both fashionable AND wearable!”

According to Emme, curvy women are professionals, celebrities, mothers, daughters and sisters. “All women want to feel special, confident, and secure in their clothes. At Fashion Without Limits, we believe that love, happiness, and success have no size limits. Our goal is to offer fashion design students an inclusive curriculum that enables them to provide women of all shapes and sizes with the apparel they want and deserve.”

“Collaborating with Emme to develop a talent pool of designers who understand how to design for the plus market opens up a world of opportunities for our students,” says ChaCha Hudson, Assistant Teaching Professor, Syracuse University Fashion Design Program. “Even if they choose not to specialize in plus sizes, every fashion brand has the potential to expand their size range to include plus-size women, but it has to be done right. This competition exposes our students to plus-size design fundamentals, enabling them to make a difference in the lives of plus-size women wherever they choose to work.”    

About Supermodel Emme

Emme has been a trusted voice in the fashion, wellness, beauty, and news industries for more than 25 years, and is widely regarded as a trailblazing social reformer for women’s empowerment and body appreciation. Chosen twice for People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People,” Ladies’ Home Journal named her one of the “Most Important Women in America” and one of the “Most Fascinating Women of the Year.” The first celebrity invited to address a Congressional subcommittee in Washington, D.C. about raising public awareness of body image and self-esteem, Emme is the founder of the True Beauty Foundation, a 501c3 charity whose mission is to improve youth mental wellness. Her passion for “feeling extraordinarily free in our bodies and living our most inspired lives possible” has led to her to be a sought-after TV personality, brand spokesperson, TV and podcast host, consultant, transformational wellness coach, best selling author, and keynote speaker.

About Fashion Without Limits

Founded in 2013 by 1985 Syracuse University graduate Supermodel Emme, Fashion Without Limits (FWL) is now part of Emme’s True Beauty Foundation as a global initiative to strengthen the impact of fashion design, positive body image and self-esteem for 100 million in the US who cannot find well-fitting lifestyle-appropriate apparel above a size 14. Established and co-founded with professors Jeffrey Mayer and Todd Conover, and now with professor Cha cha Hudson, young designers are taught an inclusive fashion education (pattern making, draping, illustration, design and grading) for sizes 0-24+ during their 4-year fashion education, with a junior year competition highlighting the Fashion Without Limits Designer of the Year. 

About Syracuse University

Syracuse University is a private research university that advances knowledge across disciplines to drive breakthrough discoveries and breakout leadership. Our collection of 13 schools and colleges with over 200 customizable majors closes the gap between education and action, so students can take on the world. In and beyond the classroom, we connect people, perspectives and practices to solve interconnected challenges with interdisciplinary approaches. Together, we’re a powerful community that moves ideas, individuals and impact beyond what’s possible.

About the Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) is one of Syracuse University’s 13 schools and colleges. Our degree programs span the disciplines of art, communication and rhetorical studies, creative arts therapy, design, drama, film and media arts, and music. VPA is committed to the education of cultural leaders who will engage and inspire audiences through performance, visual art, design, scholarship and commentary. We provide the tools for self-discovery and risk-taking in an environment that thrives on critical thought and action.

About OneStopPlus

A leader in extended sizes and pioneer in size inclusive fashions, (OSP) is part of the FULLBEAUTY Brands family of premier fashion websites for plus-size women and big & tall men. One of the world’s largest online marketplaces for plus-size women, OSP offers a multi-brand approach, serving multiple price points and multiple styles, including the largest array of extended sizes in the marketplace. features leading designs in American and European plus-size fashion, including Catherines®Woman Within®Jessica London®, Roaman’s®, June+Vie™, SwimSuitsForAll®, Ellos®, Active For All®, Shoes For All®, Intimates For All®, King Size®, Brylane Home®, and FullBeauty Outlet®, collectively offering more than 100 individual brands. The company recently acquired Eloquii, which will become the anchor tenant in a new FullBeauty digital mall, joined by SwimSuitsForAll and June+Vie.

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