If fashion truly is a way of expressing yourself, then E! News' Nina Parker should be in bold, bright and, frankly, badass designs.
Too bad those options aren't actually available for her. "With plus sizes, it's like they want us to hide," the Nightly Pop host explains of her biggest gripe. "They're matronly, something my aunties might wear. I'm like, ‘I don't understand why big has to mean conservative.'"
Or, honestly, unworthy. Time and again, while hunting for something—anything— to wear on E!'s red carpet, she'd find her options limited to black and basic silhouettes, making her wonder, where the heck was all the pizazz? "My stylist and I were trying to find stuff off of the rack and it just wasn't comparable to my counterparts," Nina admits. "It felt really unfair, like, ‘Yes, I am bigger than them, but does that mean I don't matter as much because my waist is bigger?'"
Never one to nod and smile at the status quo, Nina took matters into her own capable hands. She designed her own looks for last year's Oscars and this year's Golden Globes. And now, she's designing your next favorite outfit. This May, she's launching The Nina Parker Collection for Macy's, the department store's first-ever plus-size line by a Black woman.
"I was tired of trying to make things work," she explains to E! in her exclusive reveal. "I was tired of trying to make a square a peg fit into a circle. So, I was like, ‘Let me create my own circle.'"
A circle that not only celebrates a woman's curves but also her personality. With 17 pieces from size 16W to 24W—and between $39 and $129—she hopes her tank tops, form-fitting dresses, denim, loud prints and fun fabrics (yes, there are sequins) help women feel seen. A simple idea that, somehow, felt so foreign before. "I want them to feel like they matter, like they are a bad bitch," she explains. "I want them to feel bossy, like they can walk in a room and everybody will take notice."
It's not just the look and feel—"If the quality of the fabric wasn't up to par, I wasn't doing it"—but the entire shopping experience that Nina plans to overhaul. With plus-size clothes often discretely placed in the back corner of a store, "sometimes you feel like you're getting a drug deal," she says. "It's like, ‘Why do we have to feel like we're being alienated because of our size?'''
So, it was important for her to stand her ground and demand better placement for her collection. Finding that voice, however, didn't happen overnight. "I was trepidatious to say I didn't like something," she recalls of the early stages of the process. "I had to tell myself I'm worthy of this."
Because, ultimately, it was her vision, her confidence that had Macy's knocking on her door. With all the right materials, she just needed a crash course in fashion 101. After a day of filming with E!, she'd head home and spend her evenings fully focused on her brand. "It almost felt like taking a college course," she admits. And once she mastered the technical speak—inseams! hems!—she was weighing in on every nitty gritty detail, from button size to the thread that stitched it all together.
Even the fit model needed her final approval. "With plus, you'll have fit models, but they have flat stomachs," she explains. "For me, when I'm shopping, I look at women who have bodies similar to mine to know how I'm going to look. So, if the person doesn't have your body type then you might be discouraged. It's important to me that our fit model had curves, a little FUPA, thick calves—those types of things women struggle with."
Pretty soon, if Nina has her way, any struggle will be nonexistent. After all, she plans to tackle shapewear, swimwear, shoes, jewelry—hell, she'll make blenders if that's what you want. "I'm literally watching and paying attention," she teases. "I'm reading your comments. I'm looking at what I put on. So just know, if you think it's not available in your size, it will be."
The Nina Parker Collection launches in stores and online with Macy's May 14.