Alva Claire on Breaking the Sample Size Mold

The initial mold of restrictive sample sizes has been questioned by models and creatives alike for its soundness. As consumers embraced social media and started to reject curated fantasies in place of realism, luxury brands have been desperate to maintain their global influence while dragging their feet on letting go of the status quo. Whether it was Jill Kortleve at Chanel or Precious Lee at Versace this season, a handful of models have set out to break the runway mold with their rising careers, case-in-point is the South London, Brooklyn-based model Alva Claire who’s recent featured work in i-D and on the runways of Savage x Fenty and Versace has boosted her star-quality as of late. We spoke to the style enthusiast about developing her own taste, walking for Donatella this season, and the need to develop a deeper understanding of what real inclusivity means.

Photography by Xavier Avery @ IMG Originals | Images courtesy of IMG (New York)

Where are you originally from and how were you discovered?
I am originally from south London, my dad is Jamaican and my mum’s family is Swedish and she lived in the States before moving to London. I was scouted a few times in my teens but I was first signed at 18 when I submitted an application to an agency after seeing an ad in a weekly magazine that had an article on plus-size modeling.

What first brought you to Brooklyn, NY and how has the relocation been to this side of the pond? How is NY different from London?
I started coming to New York for work in 2017 and I loved the energy I felt here. Even though I’m from London I found New York quite overwhelming at first but so exciting at the same time. It was in a cab on the way to JFK after one of my longest trips I had this feeling, it was a really crisp clear New York days where the sun cuts down the streets and it’s warm but the air is brisk and I felt so upset leaving but then wound down the window and grinned because at that moment I decided – I’m moving. I have always wanted to live in a different city to the one I grew up in but it was always so daunting and scary. I’ve learned so much about myself and so much about where I’m from it’s amazing to be able to reflect and understand a different place. I miss London loads and all my people in it, especially this year as I haven’t gone back in a while. Both cities are very important to me I feel so lucky I get to know them as I do.

How would you describe your style?
I would describe my style as ever-changing and very connected to my mood. It’s growth to see your style develop over time, I became less interested in trends and circled back to when I was in my teens just wearing what makes me feel powerful. Vintage and thrifting are a huge part of my wardrobe it’s so fun to find original pieces that already have a story. I gravitate towards mixing textures, eras, and shapes, anytime I feel like I’m getting boxed in with my style I switch it up.

How has altering your clothes developed your unique sense of style? What pieces do you gravitate towards the most?
Getting things altered that I find thrifting or even old clothes that don’t fit but I still like the fabric has been such fun, I don’t like feeling limited; I will find a way to wear anything. I love the narratives clothes have and how when they are altered it brings new meaning to the look, it’s completely unique to you.

Photography by Xavier Avery @ IMG Originals | Images courtesy of IMG (New York)

How would you describe the experience of walking for the Versace S/S 21 show?
Walking the Versace S/S21 show for the first time was equally emotional and electrifying. I felt the history of the legendary fashion house that day and what it meant that Precious, Jill, and myself were walking together. The Versace woman has always held such power, beauty, and strength. I felt so alive, a beautifully surreal moment that I will never forget.

What are your thoughts on the fashion industry’s steps this season towards body inclusivity? What changes would you like to see in the fashion industry?
I think the fashion industry still has a long way to go in regards to body inclusivity on the runway but I feel like it is moving in the right direction. I feel that consistency and unity is very important for breaking down the doors that have been closed for so long. Each season I would love to see more opportunities for models of different sizes. For real change, the industry needs to develop a deeper understanding of what real inclusivity means. I’m excited about the future of fashion and so full of hope but it is vital that the change and growth happening now continues to build momentum.

This is your second season walking for Savage X Fenty. How was the atmosphere of the show this year compared to last year?
It was really exciting to be back on set for the Savage x Fenty show this season. It was so different this year with no live audience but the atmosphere and energy were still so beautiful. It’s like a family so it was really special to be back on set with some of the models, dancers, and Savage team from last year. I was so excited to be meeting some people for the first time too! I felt so powerful in my look, after spending lots of my time in old socks and a big T-shirt since March – it was good to be back. It’s not just how you look when you wear Savage – it’s how it makes you feel. The show was pure magic; it was so incredible to be part of it again.

Photography by Xavier Avery @ IMG Originals | Images courtesy of IMG (New York)

Are there any designers you would love to work with and why?
How much time have you got haha! There are so many designers that I would love to work with that I’m really excited by but I would have to say especially Alexander McQueen, the raw beauty and power of the house has always been so fascinating to me. It would be very special to walk in couture one day and I’ve always wanted to work with menswear designers too that would be cool!

What impact do you want to make in the fashion industry?
The impact of real change!

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