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Remi Bader on Championing Size-Inclusivity in Fashion — and the Work That Still Needs to Be Done (Exclusive)

The content creator spoke to PEOPLE during NYFW about "trying to make a difference" with her platform

<p>Gilbert Flores/WWD via Getty</p>

Gilbert Flores/WWD via Getty

Remi Bader is always listening, always learning and always championing the brands and designers she believes in.

Rather than pour her energy into bashing brands that don’t want to cater to a diverse size range, Bader has decided her time is better spent celebrating those brands and designers who are size-inclusive — or at least putting in the work to get there.

She’s doing this by shouting them out on her social media platforms, shopping their collection and, this New York Fashion Week, attending their events in person.

“I want to be helping this world and trying to make a difference,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively in the middle of NYFW. “I want to celebrate these brands more than I have been and put a more positive spin on things. I’ve recently changed my mindset on this, and I really want to focus on that instead of bashing them in as harsh of a way.”

<p>Lexie Moreland/WWD via Getty</p>

Lexie Moreland/WWD via Getty

Related: TikTok Star Remi Bader Hired by Victoria's Secret PINK as Brand Expands Its Size Offerings

This is far from her first NYFW, but it was certainly her most carefully curated one, and despite her hesitation to continue with the stylish week — which can admittedly be draining as a plus-size person who doesn’t always feel welcomed into a place that is known for not catering to plus-size bodies — Bader chose to go to a select few events with brands and designers who carry her size and hire plus-size models.

“I felt so excited to be at Christian Siriano’s show,” she says of one of her favorite designers, who has long been known for the inclusivity of his designs and his shows (even sending men down the runway). “He always takes the time with me and tells me to come in to dress me — and he’s so funny with me. Same with the Tommy Hilfiger team.”

For the Tommy Hilfiger NYFW event, held on Sunday, the brand — which already carries Bader’s size — custom-made an outfit for her, simply because they could.

“They didn’t need to do that, but it was that one extra step to make me feel like me in their clothes,” she says. “They took two skirts and put them together and cut off a coat to make a cropped jacket, and it turned into this outfit that’s so me. If more brands just put in the effort to make someone feel good, it would make such a difference.”

Bader also went to Staud and Selkie's shows, who are both inclusive, events for Forever 21 x Barneys and Target, both of which have new collections up to 4X, a solid mark of inclusivity, and a dinner with Michael Costello, another designer she adores for making her feel good about herself.

<p>Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images</p>

Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

Related: Remi Bader on Body Representation and 'Great Advice' She's Received from Industry Friends

New York Fashion Week was a way for Bader to enjoy herself surrounded by brands she admires, as well as some of her close friends and colleagues. But it was also a way for her to bring more of the industry to her followers. Throughout the week, she highlighted shows that were inclusive on social media, calling out Coach, Mirror Palais, Eckhaus Latta, Kim Shui, Dion Lee, Studio189, Staud, Area, Michael Kors, Altuzarra, Parsons School, Gypsy Sport and Adore Me all for having mid- or plus-size models on the runway.

And while size diversity is her main point of focus, the content creator truly just wants more diversity in general in the fashion world — however it manifests. Sustainable brand Collina Strada not only featured body diversity during its show on Friday, but also included model Aaron Rose Philip, who uses a wheelchair.

“[Collina Strada] showcased that people with disabilities can also be a part of Fashion Week,” Bader says, adding that this simple act shouldn’t be a difficult task for brands and designers and yet it’s still so rare.

“What I've realized in the past three years of [being a content creator], though, is that you need to balance out being appreciative of baby steps that some brands and designers are making, while still standing your ground,” she says. “It’s not me getting online and saying, ‘screw you’ to a bunch of brands. If a brand doesn’t have my size, I just don't talk about them, wear them, mention them.”

<p>Gotham/GC Images</p>

Gotham/GC Images

Related: Remi Bader Shares an Inside Look at Her First Coachella

Since launching her TikTok three years ago, Bader has steadily grown her platform into what has become a beacon for size-inclusivity. She became known for her “realistic hauls,” where she would try on clothes from popular stores, showing off her comedic chops while influencing her followers to shop (or not to shop) the brands.

In doing so, she slowly but surely helped educate viewers on which brands were carrying more sizes than others, opening up a conversation about living in a mid-to-plus-size body and what that actually means in the world of fashion.

But a rapid growth in popularity in the public eye often calls for a pivot in how you conduct yourself, which is why Bader is solely focused on celebration now rather than tearing down brands unnecessarily, even if there are times when she’s so frustrated that she’s not sure what to do with herself.

“I wouldn’t say I’m softening up, but,” Bader trails off before collecting her thoughts. “I don’t think everyone sees the work I’m putting in in the background with these brands on a size-inclusive conversation.”

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The work Bader is referring to is more conversations along the lines with those she’s had with Victoria’s Secret Pink and Revolve, both of which turned into partnerships.

She currently works with VS Pink as a brand ambassador and size consultant, which involves, in part, sitting in a room with the marketing team and “telling them what they can do better,” she says. After working with the Victoria’s Secret brand for two years, Bader says she truly feels like she can see a difference in the brand.

“They really are trying to make a difference,” she told PEOPLE at Victoria’s Secret’s NYFW event celebrating The Tour, also noting that change can’t happen overnight with a brand so big. “They’re making amazing changes, being more body diverse and being more diverse all across the board — not even just with bodies, and I think that that's what we want to see.”

With Revolve, Bader launched her own collection last year (with a new one coming in November), and the process of enacting change has been more swift because it’s a smaller company. The content creator has seen her influence take shape in real ways — which is a good thing, considering the little bit of unhappy chatter that was generated over her collection upon its announcement, because the brand hadn’t previously been known for its inclusivity.

<p>Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for The Daily Front Row</p>

Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for The Daily Front Row

Related: Runway Remi! Inside TikTok Star Remi Bader's Debut Fashion Show

Initially, her collection was going to go up to 3X, and Bader says she quickly caught heat from fans.

“Right away, I said [to Revolve], ‘We have to change this.’ And they were like, ‘Okay, for now, let's do a 4X and see how it goes.’ And we were able to make a new size before it came out,” she shares.

But in all the conversations Bader has had with brands, those are the only two that have fully panned out — which is why those are the only two that her fans and followers know about.

What her millions of followers don’t realize is that while Bader isn’t filming her comedic TikToks that bring a smile to your face or getting vulnerable about the inevitable lows of being a public figure on the internet, she’s documenting brands that are featuring curve models in their campaigns. She’s sharing Instagram Reels of designers who are sending plus-size women down their runways. She’s reaching out to brands to try to set up meetings to discuss how they can work together to become more inclusive.

What her followers also don’t realize is that the reason they haven’t heard about more brand partnerships and more conversations Bader is having is because brands aren’t responding. So when her followers are getting frustrated with her for “not doing more,” as she says, it’s hard for her to take, because she feels like she’s already doing so much and is being as strategic as she can.

<p>Lexie Moreland/WWD via Getty</p>

Lexie Moreland/WWD via Getty

“I literally never planned for any of this to happen,” she says of her quick rise to mega-influencer status. “I’m happy it did, but I’m still learning and having so many conversations — with other plus-size creators, with brands, with designers, and trying to listen to everyone. I literally keep Excel sheets of size consulting and brand trips of who we can pitch to to be more inclusive. This is stuff that I've been doing now for two years, since I blew up, and everything’s been crazy. I keep asking myself, ‘What more can I do?’ And since Victoria’s Secret, despite reaching out to all these brands, there hasn’t been anything new [in the size consulting space].”

To further prove her point, Bader pulls out her phone, and sure enough, she has a spreadsheet that’s carefully curated with brands that she’s been trying to work with to help open the door for more inclusivity, so not only she can be welcomed there, but so her plus-size followers can too.

But she doesn’t typically share all this background work she does, she says, asking aloud if maybe she should.

“Maybe this is something I could share, in a way, without listing out every single name, but just saying, ‘We're doing this on a daily basis,’" she says, before also noting aloud to herself — and to her team — that it’s time to start a new cycle of following up with brands to continue the process of trying to make fashion a more inclusive space.

In the meantime, she continues to support her favorite inclusive brands, like Good American, Anthropologie, SKIMS, Mara Hoffmann, Ganni and more, but her hope is that more brands will continue to expand their size ranges to make not just shopping an easier experience for everyone but make simply existing in a larger body a little easier as well.

She’s happy to celebrate the small victories of when any brand or designer starts to expand size ranges or include mid- or plus-size models because it’s a start — as long as it continues. Everyone has to begin somewhere, and change takes time. It’s just a matter of wanting to make that change. Bader just hopes that these brands that are already inclusive will help push the others to be better.

“Maybe if they see people promoting inclusive brands and showing the ones that are doing it right, they’ll be like, ‘We should do this too,’ you know?” she muses.

Maybe they should.

Bader promises to continue the work she's doing — even if she doesn't always share the details with her followers, whom she says are "No. 1" out of anything to her — and wraps up the conversation with a simple, “Thank you for caring.”

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