Supermodel Emme is not a fan of boundaries in the fashion industry. First, she broke the rules by becoming known as the first-ever plus-size supermodel in the 90's. Now, she's helping Syracuse University in New York launch the first-ever fashion design program to include lessons in designing clothing for curvy women. MTV News caught up with Emme to learn more about how that's going to help revolutionize the fashion industry.
"I just thought to myself, why aren’t all women able to buy clothes that fit nicely and make them feel great?" Emme told MTV News. "Here I am, a supermodel in the industry, so why am I having such a hard time finding cool, current, fashion-forward clothes when I go shopping?"
Emme said that after several years of asking this question and not getting any answers, she realized she had to think outside the box.
"Instead of hitting my head against the wall, I put on my business hat," she said. "And I realized I had to go to where designers actually learn how to design clothes, and teach them how to design clothes for all women...So when they graduate, they’ll influence the manufacturers making the clothes, and we can finally then see a shift in the business."
Originally, Emme launched a Kickstarter to develop the program, but Syracuse, the supermodel's alma mater, quickly reached out to propose a partnership. With help from Wolf Form Co., a company that manufactures the model forms that fashion students use when designing garments (like mannequins, but without heads or limbs), they were able to help Emme's dream become a reality.
Because larger forms aren't normally made available to design students, plus-size design students typically can't even try on their own designs. So Wolf Form Co. helped design a size 16 form using Emme's measurements, and then sized up her measurements to create plus-size forms in a full range of sizes for curvy women. Syracuse got enough of the plus-size forms to make them available to any of their design students who want to learn how to design clothing for curvy women.
"This year we'll have Fashion Without Limits built in from the time you’re a freshman to the time you graduate. So students who want to design their clothing for a size 12, or a size 18, or a size 20 will be able to do that for whatever classes they're taking and whatever projects they're doing."
Emme pointed out that in the past, all design students would have had to complete a given assignment -- like creating designs out of all recycled materials, or using floral patterns, for example -- on small, industry-standard forms.
"But now it's open for all size ranges," she said. "So people who gravitate toward a certain size will be able to actually learn how to do it. It's so cool."
Emme said she plans to remain very involved in the program, and makes frequent visits to the school to talk to design students. Syracuse is the first school to launch the progam, but universities and design programs across the US and the world have reached out to express interest in developing their own versions of Fashion Without Limits, and Emme said she's hopeful that the idea will really take off.
"If other schools can look at what we're doing at Syracuse and and figure out how to apply the concept to their own programs," she said, "in five years we'll have a whole generation of designers who think, 'of course -- why wouldn't we want to design for all sizes of women?'"
"I really look forward to seeing an inclusive fashion education become the standard -- instead of an exclusive one," she said.
Revolutionizing the future of fashion design isn't the only thing Emme is doing to help advance the body positivity movement -- she's also preparing to launch a YouTube series on the subject. This weekend (August 1 and 2), Emme and her team of college social media interns will be filming in New York, where they'll ask 100 men and women the question, "If you woke up and loved your body, how would your life be different and why?"