In an industry crowded with competing voices, Glamour’s Lauren Chan (@lcchan) manages to stand out – and for all of the right reasons. Unapologetically outspoken, driven to succeed, and always authentic, Lauren has stinted as a curve model, had a freelance editorial career, and now writes for Glamour, focusing on womenswear and the plus-size beat. Throughout every propulsive career move, her commitment to changing the conversation around size has been a constant. Today, she’s rubbing shoulders with Ashley Graham and Zac Posen, sitting front row at fashion week, and making fashion more inclusive, day in and day out. Here she opens up to Couturesque about breaking into the fashion industry and the future of the body positivity movement – hint: it’s making serious waves.
Tia: Tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do, and how you got there.
I'm currently the associate fashion writer at Glamour where I cover womenswear, accessories, and the plus-size fashion beat. I was previously an online fashion writer at Italian Vogue and a plus-size model. I started my career as a freelance fashion writer in Canada and made the move to New York when I signed with Ford Models. After that, it's all been a blur in the hustle!
Tia: What is your favourite part of your job?
The best part of my job is getting to work with the unbelievably talented team at Glamour! Watching everyone bring their ideas to life - whether it’s a supermodel editorial in a remote location, or a style hack GIF series online - is thrilling to me. But the best part of what I work on is getting to change the conversation around size in fashion.
Tia: On the flip side, what is the most challenging part of your job and how do you manage it?
The most challenging part of my job is keeping all of the conversations about fashion fresh. It's tough since there are a lot of women’s media brands covering the same stories, and because fashion is cyclical. I try to read as much industry content as possible so that I know what everyone else is talking about and in my day to day life, I'm always asking myself, "Is that a new story?"
Tia: What has been your proudest moment thus far?
I've had many along the way, so I don't think I can pick just one, but I published my first big print story about size in Glamour's April issue. I'm so proud that Glamour believed in it and that we ran with it as a team. That means 1 in 8 American women will be reading about fashion for them this month.
Tia: That’s definitely quite an achievement! Do you feel like the tide is turning in the industry towards more acceptances of curve fashion?
Things are improving. Just look around! Ashley Graham is literally everywhere, Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson, and Beth Ditto now have plus-size collections, Rachel Roy just launched a curvy line, and next, Glamour and Lane Bryant are designing a capsule collection for Fall. The increasing visibility and product offering are a direct reflection of that.
Tia: Looking down the road, how would you like to impact the fashion industry?
I'm out to become someone that contributes to the changing tides in fashion and the media as a whole. I want to be a disruptor, not a follower. We're a new generation of digital, social media savvy, individuality-embracing people and that will definitely change the way we consume and make content.
Tia: Who do you see as a brand or individual who is challenging the status quo of the fashion industry for the better?
Our editor in chief, Cindi Leive, is constantly challenging us to do just that. She's at the helm of a media brand that runs plus-size stories, racial analyses of television content, boundary-pushing sex-positive stories, et cetera. She's shaping all of us to become game-changers, so I'm thankful for that!
Tia: Having those kinds of conversations are so critical! What is one step that other members of the fashion industry - on the runway, in magazines, as brands - can take to further body positivity?
Well it depends what part of the industry you're talking about. But let's talk about runway. The issue barring plus-size models from hitting the runway is that sample sizes are only made in a [size] 0 or 2, but with the advent of the see-now-buy-now model coming to life in the industry, we may see more plus-size models on the runway. If brands really carry out private press appointments a season ahead and outward-facing runway shows in season, they'll have had time to produce the line, meaning that they could make a size 14 sample in plenty of time, or pull one from the pieces that were already produced for stores. That would allow more plus girls on the runway, in theory.
Tia: Bearing all of that in mind, what is the most important lesson that you’ve learned during your career?
At Glamour’s Women Of The Year Awards in 2015, Iman said, "Find your tribe. Collect them; connect with them, because there's strength in numbers." And that stuck with me. One thing I learned organically was to never compare yourself to others, there's a piece of the pie for everyone.