Plus-Size Label Tamara Malas Isn’t Here To Cover You Up

"I heard you should create what you want to see in the world, and I'm doing just that"

Photos courtesy of Tamara Malas

If you take a look at how much the plus-size industry has changed over the past decade or so, there's no denying that real progress has been made. The number of options available now—compared to the limited and, frankly, boring offerings of the past—is pretty monumental.

However, a good portion of what's available now, while much more fashion-forward, focuses on creating oversized, "flattering" pieces that cover, rather than creating expressive, bold, and unique styles meant to show a body off. That's where Tamara Malas and her namesake label come in.

After studying at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and doing a quick stint in London as a fashion assistant at Dazed and Confused magazine, Malas went on to work as an assistant designer for a luxury label in New York. While, on paper, it sounds like she was on a pretty covetable career track, Malas wasn't feeling fulfilled.

"Between styling and designing for straight-sized brands and clients, something felt off or wrong with my contribution to the work I was partaking in," Malas told us.

She explained, "I felt drained and took a short break from the industry to get treatment for an eating disorder, which allowed me to get to know myself on a deeper level and ultimately learn how to fully accept myself exactly the way that I am." This break, Malas said, "inspired a whole new wave of creativity that I felt I hadn't fully tapped into before. My relationship with the universe changed during this time as well, and I began to draw inspiration from a very personal and authentic place."

These introspective moments and wave of new, more personal inspirations are how Tamara Malas, the label, came to be. "The Tamara Malas line was very much born from my own self-love journey," she said. "As a plus-size consumer, I'm constantly saddened by the plus-size shopping experience. Every time I get dressed, I look in my closet and feel frustrated. I heard you should create what you want to see in the world, and I'm doing just that."

Malas' designs are not for the fashion wallflowers. She describes her customer as playful and fashion-obsessed with a sense of humor. "Our pieces might not be for every day, but they are certainly the ones you're most excited to wear in your closet. They can be worn season after season, and are made to highlight the individuality and personality of the wearer," she said. Within the line, you'll find checkerboard print jackets, bold color-blocked pants, completely sheer tops and skirts—pieces that draw inspiration from fine art, design, pop culture, handcrafted textiles, and Malas' own personal experiences—all available in an inclusive range of sizes, from 14 to 32.

While we love the minimalist aesthetic of today's trendier inclusive clothing options—think cult-favorite brands like Universal Standard and Coverstory NYC—it's also quite refreshing to see a label that's not afraid of bold colors and patterns or the use of sheer fabrics. "I didn't create this line to justify why plus-size women deserve a place in fashion—that's a given," said Malas. "As a brand, we won't offer solutions on how to cover up and conceal your body, but we do plan to give plus-size women the rare opportunity to exist exactly the way they are, and to be fully seen."

Malas will be dropping limited-run, seasonal collections in high-quality fabrics from around the world—those that tend to be rarities in the world of plus-size clothing, such as innovative textiles and Japanese luxury fabrics. Her knits are hand-loomed by women in a Bolivian family-owned factory, where alpaca and llamas "support the traditional livelihood of many South Americans." The line is also produced ethically and manufactured entirely in New York City's Garment District, in a factory that pays its employees fair wages and produces runway-level quality for other high-end designers.

But what she feels sets her apart from many of the other brands in the market today—aside from being fashionably loud and ethically produced—is her own point of view. "As a designer with a small line, my hand touches everything," she said. "Ultimately, the designs are informed from a very personal place. Most brands have large teams of designers who often don't live in a plus-sized body themselves. I very much am my own customer, so I feel like I have a genuine understanding of the wants and needs of other plus-size women."

You can shop the full Tamara Malas collection at TamaraMalas.com. Take a close look at the current offering, below.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Emrie Wrap Skirt, $275, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Chicago Cardigan, $325, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Normandie Top, $135, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Lilia Pant, $250, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Tess Printed Shirt Dress, $175, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Lucy Legging, $130, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Tuesday Shirt Dress, $285, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Dana Two-Piece Coat, $499, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Ditto Cape, $350, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Wednesday Shirt, $250, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Tiyana Tunic, $175, available at Tamara Malas.

Photo courtesy of Tamara Malas

Tamara Malas, Normandie Top, $135, available at Tamara Malas.