Gabi Gregg may not have invented the term “fatkini”—an amalgam of the words “fat” and “bikini”—but she can certainly be credited for taking the burgeoning trend to new heights.
Last May, when the plus-size fashion blogger, better known by her pen name GabiFresh, created an online fatkini photo gallery of 31 voluptuous, bikini-clad women for lifestyle website xoJane.com, the two-pieces went viral.
One year later, Gregg has partnered with Swimsuits for All, an online retailer of plus-size women’s swimwear, to create a fatkini line of her own. The Gabi Fresh for s4a swimwear collection, released on May 15, includes five beach-ready pieces—a one-piece swimsuit, three bikinis, and one cover-up—in sizes 10 through 24, priced from $49 to $99. The range comes in an array of neon colors and graphic prints, including a galaxy-print and a jewel-print design—the first of which has already sold out.
“[The] designs are a reflection of Gabi's young, bold, fun and flirty fashion sense,” Moshe Laniado, president and CEO of Swimsuits for All, told The Daily Beast. “She designed them with her personal style in mind and an aesthetic that her readers and followers want to shop.”
The look book for Gregg’s collection took its inspiration from the bathing suits in Harmony Korine’s film Spring Breakers. The spread features Gregg and two fellow plus-size fashion stars, model Maxey Greene and blogger Nadia Aboulhosn, gallivanting around a rooftop pool in Brooklyn emulating the same young, carefree, party-hard vibe that we saw in Korine’s cinematic tour de force. In the most literal re-creation of the Spring Breakers costumes, the models pose side by side in the jewel-print swimsuits with sweatpants and sneaker wedges—while wearing ski masks and holding water guns.
Before Gregg made her fatkini debut on xoJane.com, she was already an established voice in the plus-size fashion arena. The 26-year-old Detroit native launched her Web site, GabiFresh, in September 2008 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College to showcase her interest in fashion journalism. Today, Gregg’s five-year-old blog has garnered critical acclaim, and she’s been featured in Glamour, Teen Vogue, InStyle, and The New York Times.
But even before she started blogging, Gregg had long held an interest in fashion design—primarily to fill the gap in the market for plus-size clothing. “I wanted to give [plus-size women] cuter things—all I want for us is to have the same ability to go shopping like everyone else and have those options available,” she told The Daily Beast.
Plus-size swimwear has been around for a while, but fast-fashion retailers such as Forever21, ASOS, H&M, and, of course, Swimsuits for All, are finally starting to service the younger demographic by rolling out on-trend contemporary designs and featuring plus-size models in their ad campaigns. Forever 21 now has its own plus-size range, Forever 21+, and ASOS launched a new line, ASOS Curve, in January 2010. Earlier this month, H&M hired size-12 model Jennie Runk as the face of its new plus-size swimwear collection.
“[Plus-size women] should not all be treated as having the same sense of style, which was the industry standard for a long time,” Laniado said. “I think it’s really the demand from women that the industry could no longer ignore.”
Following the success from her collection for Swimsuits for All, Gregg hopes to design a full ready-to-wear line for plus-size women. She cites singer Beth Ditto as her “fat feminist icon." “I think [Ditto] is the only current person I know in mainstream media that’s part of the fat-acceptance movement and is okay that she doesn’t look like a size 12,” she said. “A lot of plus-size women are sizes 8, 10, 12—it’s great to see some size diversity," she says, emphasizing that those sizes aren't consider plus-size outside the fashion industry.
“We want to make women of all body types feel like a million bucks,” Laniado added. “And that's what our swimwear is all about: having fun, looking amazing, and feeling great in your own skin whatever your size.”