In a first for the city – and possibly even South Africa – the Radisson Red hotel at the V&A Waterfront hosted a plus-sized men’s modelling show, putting big men on the map.
The 13 men strutted their stuff in outfits by designer Jade Campbell at the hotel on Wednesday November 27, which also marked the start of the #PlusIsEqual campaign.
The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness about inclusivity and to mobilise clothing brands to consider plus-size men’s fashion as part of their offering.
The auditions took place about a month ago, and more than 60 men applied to be part of the event.
One of the judges, Curve model Candice Manuel, said they were in search of men of all shapes and sizes who were fashion forward and represented the true diversity of South Africa. At the end of the auditions, the Top 12 chosen models became the Top 13, as judges said it was too difficult to only pick 12.
Mr Campbell, who is from Brooklyn, said the range captured a little of each season. “Because it was the first I wanted to do every season.”
He said the lack of plus-size mens clothing in stores had given him the idea of the new range. “As a big guy, you go out shopping and there are limited clothing. I love fashion – I want to be able to go out and look good.
“What kicked me is that I found this amazing outfit, but the shirt didn’t fit me, and I had to cut the pants and use the leftover material to make the shirt bigger. That was the final straw.”
On the night, each of the 13 models had pre-recorded a short interview about their struggles with being plus-sized men, which included lack of sizes of clothing; being made fun of; struggling with self-acceptance.
One of the models, Alexander MacDonald, from Kuils River, said the modelling experience had been amazing, especially since it was the first of its kind in Cape Town.
“I think it’s very necessary right now. Guys need to feel confident in the shapes and sizes.”
He said when he was chosen, he was very excited.
Mr MacDonald, who works in marketing, said he would love to model full-time, now that he had had a taste of the experience. But ultimately, he would like to be an ambassador and encourage designers to make clothes for plus-sized men.
Another model, Eduard Mostert, a wedding photographer who has lived in Gardens for eight years, said he was nervous when he first got onto the stage. “I’m a wedding photographer, so I am usually on the other side of the camera. It was quite an experience,” he said.
“I completely love the movement, because it considers us, our lifestyle and clothing made for us. It comes down to respecting each other. Every body is a good body. People are allowed to feel sexy. It’s about being a human.”
He said when they called him as a finalist, he was dumbstruck.
“I never thought that one day I would possibly be a model. Being plus-sized is not in the top 10 of beauty standards in the world.” But, he added, a prominent modelling agency had already signed him.
The general manager of the Radisson Red, Leonie Andereya, said the campaign had had a great response. “It is not just a movement, it is a message that we are not all the same, and that’s okay.”
Mr Campbell said one of the important aspects of the fashion show was to embrace men.
“The plus-size girls are out there – they started the market but the men were somewhat forgotten. We want our models to know it’s okay if you’re a big man, and there is nothing wrong with embracing who you are and looking good – because if you look good, you feel good and you do good.”