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#stylenotsize founders, Maria Castellanos and Denise Mercedes. Photo credit: Erica White
#stylenotsize founders, Maria Castellanos (left) and Denise Mercedes (right) collaborated with Macy's to create a size-inclusive loungewear collection. Photo credit: Erica White

Fashion influencers behind #stylenotsize collaborate with Macy’s for new loungewear collection

When Denise Mercedes and Maria Castellanos posted a picture in matching bikinis to Instagram, they didn't expect it to go viral. This marked the start of …

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On TikTok, the pair post videos of themselves wearing the same outfit to show it on two different body types – Mercedes is a size 14, and Castellanos is a size 2. The friends started posting these videos in 2020 and currently have almost 4 million followers between their two accounts. 

By posting these videos, they hope to help people be confident with their bodies and wear what they want. Their success on social media has led the pair to work with many brands that are size-inclusive.  

Castellanos empathized that the point of #stylenotsize is having confidence by admitting that in the original photo she didn’t have any after years of having her body commented on by coaches and competitors. She said during an interview with AL DÍA, “I just remember seeing Denise looking incredible in her bikini. Like I looked at her and she was so confident. She didn’t really care about other people’s opinions. That did it for me. I was like, ‘If she can do it, so can I.’”  

Mercedes was born and raised in New Jersey. She got her start in the fashion world seven years ago by posting photos of her outfits to social media. “I was receiving a lot of positive feedback from people because I motivated them to wear things that, you know, we were told curvy women couldn’t wear.” In response, she created the hashtag, #becauseitsmybody to encourage people. 

As her platform grew, she started to work with brands like Rebdolls, a missy and plus-sized brand created by fellow Dominican, Grisel Paula. Mercedes has created a swimsuit and a fall collection for them, both of which sold out in under a week.  

Castellanos is originally from Ecuador, but now resides in New Jersey. She is a professionally-trained dancer who came to the United States to finish her studies at Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Since then, she’s gotten into fashion as a blogger and influencer. In addition to fashion, her social media is filled with dance, travel, and motivational content.

The two met back in 2018 at a bar. Castellanos’ husband and Mercedes’ boyfriend were already friends at the time and all four had decided to hang out. The two ended up discussing Mercedes’ social media and Castellanos’ photography career. This led to Castellanos becoming Mercedes’ photographer. 

Currently, the pair is collaborating with Macy’s. Their collection features loungewear that is stylish enough to wear in or out of the house in an array of pastel colors. Although many of the pieces come in matching sets, Mercedes and Castellanos designed them to work with all of the other pieces in the collection so that customers could mix and match. The collection is a mix of a sexy/sporty style that is influenced by each woman’s individual style. So far, the collection is being well-received by their followers. 

Another brand that they’ve put out a ‘style not size’ collection with was Abercrombie in August 2021. “And I remember posting and people saying things like, ‘I didn’t even know Abercrombie was becoming more inclusive,’” Mercedes said. 

Overall, both Castellanos and Mercedes believe that the fashion industry is becoming more size-inclusive. Castellanos mentioned that in the past it was harder for them to find matching pieces. “But we have seen, though, so much change since then. And more importantly awareness from people, not just brands. And this is important because if people are talking, then the industry themselves have to open up their ears and their eyes and start changing.” 

Castellanos added, “So I think we are in that transition of that beautiful change that has to happen.” 

They also believe that social media played a major part in the body positive movement and getting brands to extend their sizes. “So I would definitely say that influencers, bloggers, and just the people overall on social media, you know, played a big part. Especially now with social media, people can go ahead and comment on a brand’s post and say, you guys don’t have my size. So I think they heard the influencers, bloggers, the people, and they went ahead and started being more size-inclusive,” Mercedes said. 

One way that brands can continue to improve in Mercedes’ eyes is to extend their sizing even more. Some brands only go up to a size 18, when she believes they should go up to more like a size 26. Castellanos believes that brands need to focus not just on size, but also on the fabrics being used and how the garment is being cut. This would ensure that clothes aren’t just big enough, but also fit well and look flattering.  

In the future, they want to continue to work with brands that are size-inclusive. They also want to work with brands that currently aren’t to try to encourage them to extend their sizing. They also want to use their large platform to amplify the voices of smaller creators.

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