Like so many plus-size designers, Gia Sinatra grew up never being able to find pieces that fit well and matched her individual style preferences. "I have been plus-size my whole life and have always had a love for fashion," the Los Angeles–based model tells Who What Wear. "But it has been a struggle for me to find clothes that I want to wear in my size." Those same issues only compounded when she decided to pursue a career in plus-size modeling, where she noticed right away that she wasn't the only one trying and failing to find clothes that worked for her body. Frustrated, she decided to do what so many in fashion have yet to attempt, let alone succeed in: make clothing—chic, trend-forward, and well-fitting clothing specifically—for plus-size women. And thus, Gia/IRL was born.
In short, Gia/IRL is everything that Sinatra has been searching for since she was a kid. It's all of the clothes that she's always wanted to wear but could never find. "[That is] why I named the brand Gia in real life," she says. "[It's all] things that I would wear IRL." Since she works in the industry surrounded by equally frustrated models as well as all of the most up-to-date trends, she knows exactly what customers want to wear. "All the same options as straight-size women," says Sinatra. "Sexy, chic, and trendy pieces."
For her first collection, the designer focused heavily on fit, quality, and price, with her main goal being to make shopping inclusive from every angle. All eight pieces included in the debut drop are available in sizes 12 to 26, or XL to 4X, and priced below $160. But Sinatra isn't stopping there. "We are already expanding to a 5X (28) for one of our dresses coming in [the second] drop, and I would like to keep expanding sizes as we grow," she explains. "We all deserve to have an amazing shopping experience where we feel special."
Below, learn more about Sinatra's just-launched brand, from the first drop's Italian inspiration to the methods she and her production team used to ensure that each piece would be a perfect fit for its new owner. And keep scrolling to shop the very first Gia/IRL drop.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your own style journey.
I have been plus-size my whole life and have always had a love for fashion, but it has been a struggle for me to find the clothes that I wanted to wear in my size. My style has evolved with age and my confidence journey, and I feel like I can finally express my true style with having Gia/IRL. My style definitely varies day-to-day, but I would describe it as chic and sexy. You will get a good idea of my style when you see my pieces, which is why I named the brand Gia in real life—things that I would wear IRL.
What made you decide to start your career as a model?
I saw Ashley Graham on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2016, and I saw someone that looked like me in the media being represented, and it made me feel confident and beautiful. I was inspired to pursue modeling to be the representation in the media that I needed when I was a little girl. I wanted to be a part of the change in the industry.
How would you describe your experience in the fashion industry, specifically your time working as a plus-size model? What about those experiences drew you to start your own plus-size brand?
As a plus-size model, I have worked with some really amazing brands and people, but you really get to see firsthand the options and lack thereof for plus-size women. A lot of these brands just don't understand what plus-size women want.
What else led you to start a brand yourself?
I was feeling like I couldn't express my style with the options that I had in my size, and I was constantly frustrated shopping. Most brands only go up to a size 10, and I knew other women my size and larger shared my same frustrations.
When thinking about your own brand, what were some of the areas that you really were passionate about incorporating?
My key factors that I wanted when I started were to have a great fit and great-quality fabrics for an affordable price. I wanted the sizing to be as inclusive as possible (for plus-size), and I wanted to be as sustainable as possible. It's something that I'm working toward, being more sustainable. All of our packaging is recyclable.
Did you run into any major roadblocks as you were launching Gia/IRL? How were you able to get past them?
Finding the right production team that understood the vision and could make the sizes that I wanted with the quality that I wanted.
What surprised you most about the process of starting your own brand?
That really any brand can expand their sizes, but they just don't care to. Although I knew that, it really just showed me that if I could fight for larger sizes as a small business, then all of these huge companies can easily do it. I'm happy to be a part of the change, though!
How did you go about ensuring that your pieces would fit as many bodies as possible?
I am the fit model (I have years of fit-modeling experience), and I hired an experienced fit tech to help with the fit process and grading. Each piece went through four to five fits, and we ordered a size run to try every size on to make sure it was fitting properly. I think fit is always a work in progress, especially for plus-size, because you also have to take customer feedback into consideration. But so far, the fit seems to be really true to size.
The brand's size range currently goes from 12 to 26. Do you see yourself extending the sizes further as your brand grows?
Absolutely! We are already expanding to a 5X (28) for one of our dresses coming in drop two, and I would like to keep expanding sizes as we grow. I want everyone to have sexy and chic options.
Aesthetic-wise, how would you describe Gia/IRL? What inspired the designs?
Being Italian and having a huge love for Italy, several of the pieces were inspired by Italy and Sophia Loren. I wanted a cool-girl brand for plus-size women. I wanted plus women to have all the same options as straight-size women: sexy, chic, and trendy pieces.
What is your goal for Gia/IRL? What impact would you like the brand to have on the industry as a whole as well as plus-size women/consumers?
I want a place where women can come and feel beautiful and find nice pieces that fit their body well. I want women to feel confident in my pieces. I wanted Gia/IRL to be an experience from start to finish. When you receive the package, you see every detail that went into it, including the mailers, poly bags, care labels with little messages on them, the fit, the fabric, and the details of the pieces. We all deserve to have an amazing shopping experience, where we feel special.
What else would you like WWW's readers to know about you and your brand?
I want women to try something that might be a little out of your comfort zone. I want you to embrace your body and size and feel confident. I hope you feel confident, beautiful, and sexy in my pieces!
Shop the plus-size brand that's about to be everywhere:
We've already thought of at least four occasions that this dress can be worn to, from a black-tie wedding to a low-key lunch.
Drapey silhouettes like this one were all over the spring/summer 2022 runways, including Di Petsa, Rick Owens, and Loewe.
Eliza Huber is a New York City–based fashion editor who specializes in trend reporting, brand discovery, and celebrity style. She joined Who What Wear in 2021 after almost four years on the fashion editorial team at Refinery29, the job she took after graduating with a marketing degree from the University of Iowa. She has since launched two monthly columns, Let's Get a Room and Ways to Wear; profiled the likes of Dakota Fanning, Diane Kruger, Katie Holmes, and Sabrina Carpenter for WWW's monthly cover features; and reported on everything from the relationship between Formula One and fashion to the top trends from fashion month, season after season. Eliza now lives on the Upper West Side and spends her free time researching F1 fashion imagery for her side Instagram accounts @thepinnacleoffashion and @f1paddockfits, running in Central Park, and scouring eBay for '90s Prada and '80s Yves Saint Laurent.
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