Victoria’s Secret called it quits on the famed televised fashion show in 2019, in the face of weak ratings and public outcry about a lack of diversity. Brand Aerie, a subsidiary of Aeropostale, has introduced new underwear and lingerie with untouched photos of models, blemishes and all.
Medford resident Brianna Giarraputo joined the shift in the fashion world on a smaller scale, with her online brand, KIND FASHION, and its simple message: “Together, let’s be kind.”
“It’s a way to express who I am and I love that side of it,” Giarraputo noted.
Whether she’s pairing a fitted shirt with her favorite denim skirt or picking out the right shoes, the college student wants to help ease the anxiety some people feel when buying new apparel.
The effect of clothing on one’s image did not resonate with Giarraputo until she entered Thomas Jefferson University, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in business. Private school and its required uniform made fashion a non-issue, and when Giarraputo did dress down, it was with sweats and a touch of make-up.
But as she explored her personality at Jefferson, Giarraputo learned about fashion behind the scenes.
“Interning for different companies, I saw how rude someone could be to a model or intern if they didn’t look perfect, and I just thought, ‘This is a human being and you should be kind to them,’ regardless of what industry you’re in,” the 22-year-old noted.
“My motto is that it’s a lot less energy and effort to be kind.”
Giarraputo’s KIND FASHION brand focuses on inclusivity of sizes and sustainability, ideas near and dear to her. She was frustrated at seeing plus-size clothing set aside in stores or priced significantly higher than other apparel.
So Giarraputo did something about it.
Most of the products at her online store — KINDFASHION.net — range from extra-small to 4X, and are priced equally. Her models were photographed mostly with an iPhone and represent several races, looks and sizes.
Giarraputo grew up sheltered from the effects of fashion because of her private education, but she urges children to be gracious to one another about the clothes they wear. Kids who come across her brand or blog hope to see diversity of models and shapes as an avenue for what they can become.
Sustainability has proved to be difficult for the designer given the public’s zeal for fast fashion (apparel sold right off cat walks or photo shoots), but Giarraputo has made it possible by embroidering fabric in her own home. She is conscientious about the brands she financially supports — staying away from those tied to sweatshops and lack of diversity in leadership — and as a result, favors second-hand goods.
“I want people to feel at ease when they go shopping, and not like it’s a stressful experience where they have to squeeze to fit into a size,” she noted. “It should be fun and enjoyable. Being kind to yourself is important.”