How I Made It

Lauren Chan, Model, Editor & Fashion Brand Founder

Lauren Chan is a Canadian model and fashion brand founder based in New York City. Here, she tells FLARE how she made it

Lauren Chan; @lcchan

How do you describe your job to your family?

I’ve held a few titles over the years, which I’m sure has been hard for my family to keep straight. For my job as a model, I usually tell them watch America’s Next Top Model. For my role as a fashion editor at Glamour; The Devil Wears Prada. And for my most recent gig as a fashion brand founder; Project Runway. Basically, I just tell them to get a Netflix subscription!

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I went to Western University for sociology. Shoutout to Professor Manley who taught the only fashion class!

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

After I graduated, I was signed to the plus-size board of Ford Models in New York City. I think the first gig I booked was an e-commerce shoot for Eloquii.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

The whole time I was modeling, I was trying to land a job in the editorial department of a fashion magazine. The stars aligned when Jane Keltner de Valle hired me at Glamour as a fashion writer *and* she sponsored my U.S. work visa. I don’t know what magic Jane worked to make it happen, but I’m forever grateful.

What would you say has been your most significant setback, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

The hardest part of the job for me has also been the most rewarding: convincing my editors that size-inclusive fashion content deserves to be in the magazine.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Find your niche. When I got to Glamour, I didn’t talk about my experience as a plus-size model because I didn’t want to be an outcast in the office. But when I wasn’t getting ahead, I leaned into it because it made me different. Spoiler alert: it worked. I ended up with a size inclusive column and online vertical, appeared on Good Morning America and Today and designed collections with Lane Bryant.

Who are your favourite people to follow on social media from your industry?

@nicolettemason, @gabifresh, @kellyaugustine, @itsmekellieb, @tessholliday, @naomishimada—the list goes on.

How would you describe your industry in terms of representation and inclusivity?

Fashion has come a long way in terms of inclusivity for women of all sizes. When I started working in 2012, there were no women like Ashley Graham, Precious Lee or Tess Holliday in the mainstream media. There’s still a long way to go—especially beyond size—but the best way forward is to put more people from marginalized communities in positions of power.

Have you ever asked for a raise? If so, how did you phrase it and did you get it? If not, why not?

Yes. In my experience, raises are about working hard, so industry peers take notice. If you don’t see a path to hustle harder, ask your boss how you can carve one out.

Looking to the future, what excites you the most about your career?

My new venture! I’m launching a clothing brand in spring 2019 called Henning that will make elevated staples—like suits and day-to-night dresses—in sizes 14 and up. I’m especially excited that I get to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to size inclusivity.

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