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Zac Posen believes that all bodies are beautiful. The 2017 TODAY Style Hero is a leading force when it comes to diversity on the runway, whether it's about size, ethnicity or age.
"To me, that's what's exciting about being a designer," he told TODAY Style. "Being able to bring lots of different women with different backgrounds into your clothing. That's the excitement of being able to create something that has the ability to work on a lot of bodies."
It's a philosophy that fits right in with the recent push toward inclusivity and diversity in the fashion world. More designers are expanding their range of sizes and featuring curvier body types, once practically banned from the industry, on the runway and in advertisements.
"I think fashion, for a long time, relied on the marketing tool of the unachievable, and it's a bunch of bogus," Posen, 36, said. "Today it has to be about authenticity. The way I cut my clothing ... it is about empowerment and loving the curves of the body."
Plus, from a business standpoint, targeting a greater population simply makes sense. When Posen launched his collection of wedding gowns with David's Bridal, he made sure the dresses were all available in up to size 26.
"As a designer, I always want to put out to a larger public," Posen said. "I truly believe that all bodies are beautiful, and that's what makes our world exciting."
There's no shortage of leading ladies who have worn Posen's clothes, from Katie Holmes to Oprah to Lena Dunham. He grew up in New York City, a place as diverse as the collection of women he creates clothes for — and a backdrop that's on display in the new film, "House of Z," about his, at times, tumultuous career. The film, which also focuses on his relationships with family members who helped him start his business, includes scenes that make the designer cringe, including a particularly tense fitting moment with his staff.
"It's always hard to watch yourself. I always have to take a deep breath each week when watching 'Project Runway,'" said Posen, a judge on the fashion competition show.
The film, available to rent on Vogue.com on Sept. 6, also shows footage of Posen as a boy, and him recalling how he didn't always feel comfortable in his own skin as a child. Of course, we all know how that story ends — Posen found his fashion tribe and his success, too.
"I hope that my experience, the good sides, the bad sides ... is an example for young people who do feel like an outsider, to feel confident in who they are," he said.
Whether his fans find it through the film or his clothes, Posen is big on confidence. That’s why he hopes the recent push toward self-love and body positivity in fashion isn’t fleeting.
“I hope that these values don’t get kind of put into a trend that goes out of style in fashion,” he said. “I hope that this is something that’s here to stay, and that there’s progress from this, and evolution of the mindset of an industry. And that’s something I’ll work for for the rest of my life.”
This article was originally published on Aug. 29, 2017 on TODAY.