By Amanda Jean Black
Miss Chan is a trailblazer in every sense of the word. Whether in front of the camera or behind her desk at Glamour, she has positioned herself as one of the most empowering voices in fashion. Lauren discusses her rise to fashion writer and role model.
What initially attracted you to fashion?
I was initially drawn to fashion from one image: the foldout model-of-the-moment cover from Vogue’s September 2004 issue. I still have the copy sitting in my room at my parents’ house. The allure of the new class of top models (now the supers of an era), the photography and, of course, the fashion drew me in, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I knew then that I wanted to be one of the people who helped to create that kind of content and give people that kind of feeling.
After attending college in Canada, why did you move to New York? I moved to New York after wrapping up my university degree in Canada with the goal of becoming a fashion writer. As someone who had a hard time getting a visa (let alone a call or an email back from any prospective job opportunities I applied to online), I knew I had to be on the ground to do it.
However, in the back of my mind, I always had dreams of becoming a model. So when Ford Models had its first open call in a decade for their plus-size board soon after I moved to the city, it seemed like perfect timing. I showed up, shook Gary Dakin and Jackyn Sarka’s hands, and handed them both my modeling pictures and my fashion writing resume. And as fate would have it, I got signed as a plus-size model!
How did that experience influence your writing?
Now, modeling is a less common occurrence for me, but I think my experience with it helps with my beat of plus-size fashion reporting. In particular, I like to think it makes me more relatable — seeing more size 12 models when I was growing up would have saved me a lot of tough personal moments.
Many can argue that fashion media is split between those who work in the fantasy realm of designer duds and those who focus on real-world style. Do you think these fashion philosophies are at odds?
Not really. Actually, I think that’s what Glamour does best. We take the fantasy (or glamour, ha!) of fashion and apply it to real life. That’s definitely the kind of work I want to be doing, so I know I’m in the right place.
You seem to spend just as much time in front of the camera modeling for Glamour shoots as you do behind your desk! Was it a goal to do bit of everything?
It was less a goal and more an adaptation. That’s a lesson I learned quickly: You can’t make everything go your way, so you have to roll with the punches, so to speak. I wanted to write for Glamour and needed a way to do that! So I picked up modeling for the brand when the chance arose. I needed a beat and a niche as a writer, and since I was a plus-size model, I used that as a starting point.
Now, I try to keep evolving by writing, working with Glamour.com, contributing to Glamour’s social channels, helping the advertising team, working on TV segments, speaking on panels, and more. There’s always more to learn, and I want to be immersed in everything! I never let myself forget that I’m lucky to be in an office with the most amazing talents in the industry — the people I once admired from afar. Because of that, I try to soak up every second and opportunity with these inspiring people.
What is your stance on plus fashion, and why do you think it has taken so long for the niche to gain traction?
I think plus-size fashion has gained real and lasting momentum because, for the first time, the public has legitimate ways to ask for that kind of content. With social media, it’s now impossible to ignore the readers and the customers. A lot of people are not the sample size, and they’ve wanted to see themselves mirrored in media for a long time. Now, thanks to social media, they have the means to demand it directly.
What’s more, companies care about this feedback more now than ever. They feverishly track things like website page views, magazine sales, and returns on investments on social content in an attempt to make sure they’re resonating with the public and making content they want to consume. And there you have it: That’s the recipe for the progress of body diversity in media.
What is a favorite published piece that you’ve written/contributed to? “We Want Clothes That Fit” in Glamour’s Sept. 2015 issue.
What can you not work/live without? Work: Apple everything and the Tape A Call app. Life: Hulu and Seamless.
What is an industry pet peeve of yours? My motto is work hard and be nice; you can consider my pet peeve the opposite of that.
Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat? Instagram: it’s where I get a lot of my breaking fashion news and discover interesting new influencers.
What word/phrase/motto do you live by? Aside from the above, one phrase that has stayed with me for years is Tracee Ellis Ross’ “May the space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me.” Now that’s motivation in a sentence!