Welcome to the Glossy 50, our first annual list featuring men and women contributing to the transformation of fashion, luxury, beauty and technology.
The industries are being turned on their heads. The heat is on to ship faster, lower prices and be first to market with trends. Those driving these modern strategies are the people we’re recognizing. They’re insiders from 10 categories we cover daily — including platforms, wearables, startups and streetwear — who captured our attention in the past year.
In this feature, we dive into their contributions to their industries’ new directions. Below are the honorees in the Diversity in Fashion category. See honorees in other categories here.
Jag Models founders Gary Dakin and Jaclyn Sarka have been at the forefront of model diversity and inclusivity since the duo left Ford Models together in 2013 to create an agency of their own. Jag Models has come a long way since its early days based at Dakin’s kitchen table — four years later, the company continues to push the boundaries on beauty standards, with an emphasis on casting women of all sizes and from all backgrounds.
What was the moment you realized there was a need for an agency like Jag Models?
We really wanted to be casting girls of all sizes, but Ford’s new owner chose to undo what we had worked toward for several years and decided to focus more on image rather than commercial looks. We thought it was a great opportunity to run with our concept of using women of all sizes on one casting board.
Jag’s just seven people. How does being small affect your approach?
When we really believe in and are passionate about somebody, we’re willing to take a chance on a girl. The big agencies have someone to answer to; we just have ourselves to prove it. If you really love somebody, you take a chance on them. Not everything has to be done by committee.
What’s a prerequisite for a Jag model?
They just have to have that special something that makes you want to work with them. When [model Diana Veras] walked in, all 5 feet, 6 inches of her, nothing screamed traditional model, but she had this personality that’s just magnetic. You’ve got to stand out.
Rio Uribe is an outsider’s designer with insider clout. Since 2012, the Los Angeles native has sent out edgy, unisex fashion under the label Gypsy Sport, with collections that reference everything from homelessness to punk subcultures. He won the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2016 despite having no official design background — he got his start in the industry after falling into a chance merchandising job at Balenciaga in 2006. But that’s what makes his story quintessentially American — in the more idyllic sense we need right now. Ditto Uribe’s outlook on design, which does not simply blur gender lines but is inclusive across the board, with his clothing regularly shown on models of all sizes, races and sexual orientations — not to mention pregnant women, mothers and children. He’s the rare designer that makes you hopeful for an industry less reliant on exclusion.
Nadia Boujarwah didn’t see a future for herself in retail. In fact, she was an investment banker before she decided to get her business degree from Harvard Business School in 2011. But certain shopping trips always stuck with her, like the time she went shopping for a prom dress. She was a size 22 at the time, and after her search turned up a very limited selection of options, she ultimately designed her dress herself.
While at Harvard, Boujarwah met Lydia Gilbert, a classmate who shared a similar history of disappointing shopping experiences. The two got to work thinking about what the perfect retail experience would look like for them and the CDC-reported 100 million women who don’t fit into traditional retail sizes, which typically end at size 14. It was a combination of that commiseration and their surroundings — Harvard Business School is known as a startup launchpad — that led to the launch of Dia&Co, a style subscription box that sends clothes to plus-size shoppers to try before they buy.
“Retail and fashion [weren’t] at the forefront of my mind on the professional aspect,” she says. “But one thing that was always clear to me was that how good I felt in my clothes had a direct impact on how powerful I felt in my job. Who I wanted to be was closely tied to how I wanted to dress.”
Dia&Co has now raised $25 million in funding, grown to 350 employees (including remote personal stylists) and started designing brands in-house and through collaborations with celebrities like Rebel Wilson. It’s come a long way since Boujarwah and Gilbert delivered boxes to early customers themselves — on foot.
The company works with existing plus-size brands on the market to fill its shipments, and it also encourages other brands to join the space, helping them to do so by sharing customer information and tips. The brands have to be dedicated, though, or else Dia&Co isn’t interested in supporting their products.
“If brands are interested, we share every resource we have,” Boujarwah says. “Our job is to get more options to our customer — we built the business around it. But they have to be committed to her — and not just because the dollars are there.”
Three years ago, Jacques Bastien noticed a glaring blind spot in the world of influencer marketing that other agencies had ignored: the lack of diversity in the space. Born in Hait, raised in Brooklyn, Bastien was running a multicultural marketing agency called Boogie at the time, when he decided to tackle the issue. In 2016, he founded Shade Management with his wife, Dahcia. The company represents a roster of wide-ranging black and brown influencers, including fashion models, stylists and photographers. Along with helping them build connections and expand their reach, the Bastiens connect their talent with lucrative clients that are hoping to reach a more niche or multicultural audience. So far, Shade has worked with everyone from Food Network to Bumble, helping to fill these mainstream voids with more realistic representation of our increasingly diverse world.