Nina Parker talks making history with her new plus-size clothing line

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Tune into We Should Talk every Thursday, where In The Know’s Gibson Johns interviews your favorite celebrities and influencers. Subscribe to We Should Talk here.

Nina Parker has been in the entertainment industry for over a decade now, but she’s making things happen for herself more than ever these days.

The co-host of E!’s Nightly Pop started her on-camera career at TMZ before she started hosting VH1’s Love & Hip Hop reunions. She eventually jumped over to E!, where she’s become one of the network’s premiere host talents, most recently anchoring its E! Live from the Red Carpet coverage at last month’s Oscars. Next up for Parker? The Nina Parker Collection, the first ever plus-size collection designed by a Black woman exclusively for Macy’s, hitting stores and online on Friday, May 14.

Nina caught up with In The Know for the latest episode of our pop culture interview series, We Should Talk, where she talked about designing The Nina Parker Collection, hitting back against the “contradictory behavior” towards the plus-size community in the fashion industry, rumors she’s getting her own show at E!, working the Oscars red carpet and more.

“I’ve been doing TV for a really long time. People will be like, ‘Everything is hitting for you,’ but it’s been a long journey. […] Ultimately, if you have a good work ethic and you do your research and you work hard, people do take notice, even if you think they’re not paying attention,” she told In The Know. “Your time is your time, so I just try to stay patient and stay faithful. I have a voice, and I have a purpose. Sometimes not everyone is going to see it or agree with it, but [it’s about] keep being tenacious and sticking with it. That’s really my mantra for everything that I do.”

Listen to In The Know’s full episode with Nina Parker below, and keep scrolling for highlights from the interview:

Nina Parker on The Nina Parker Collection: “I really love Macy’s because, while I’m the first Black woman to do an exclusive plus line for Macy’s, they have carried other Black-owned brands before, so they’ve really been doing a great job with trying to collaborate with and elevate people of color and Black designers in general. So, collaborating with me is just another step. […] It’s really interesting to have a line that’s dedicated to being plus, because sometimes lines will extend into plus sizes, but this being specifically created for women who are plus-size is a different beast, and it’s created by a woman who is plus-size. Sometimes when you’re shopping, you can tell someone who is plus size didn’t make the clothes. I want people to feel when they put the clothes on through the material they feel, the quality, the designs being fresh and funky… I want them to know it was a labor of love.”

Nina Parker on the blowback to Lena Dunham’s recent plus-size clothing collection: “I didn’t [pay attention to that controversy] on purpose just because I feel like, you know, look, I don’t have any super deep thoughts about Lena. I feel like she has a target group, [but] I am not a part of it, even if we are both in the plus community. That’s why there are options! Because there are some people who do relate to Lena, and there are people who do get her clothes and they’ll enjoy them, but I don’t necessarily think we have the same targets and the same goals. And that’s okay. Some people are just going to be who they’re gonna be, and my hope is to continue to learn and grow and be open. I know once my line is out, people will have questions, as well, and my goal is to just listen. So, if there are things that I didn’t include or things that can be improved, I’m always open to [the idea that] this is not something that’s a straight line, and it’s gonna ebb and it’s gonna flow and there’s room for improvement. I hope people are patient enough. This is a line where, right now, I’m working on November. It’s gonna continue, just like anything. Out the gate, it starts one way, and then you expand and you grow and create new things and see what the need is. […] I just think it’s all about letting people feel like they’re being heard, especially in marginalized groups.”

Nina Parker on rumors she’s getting her own show on E!: “I had made a joke on Nightly Pop, like, ‘I’m gonna have my own show in a year.’ I had made the joke and they kind of took [the tweet] from that joke. There’s, right now, not a plan for anything that I know of, unless somebody is calling my phone today. Right now Nightly Pop is the focus, the clothing line is the focus. You know I’m always down for another job or another opportunity. You know I stay working. But, that is ultimately the goal; the goal is to have my own show eventually. What I’ve learned is patience. I believe in divine timing. When it’s my time for that, it will happen, and until then I’m enjoying the ride.”

Nina Parker on designing her own gown for the 2020 Oscars: “A lot of times you’re just afraid to do something because you’ve never done it before. For me, I was tired of being frustrated when shopping for these gowns, and it was just like, ‘Nothing’s available!’ Specifically, a lot of designers would design gowns for other people and they just wouldn’t return our calls or emails. It was a frustrating process. We’d have someone say, ‘We’ll get back to you.’ And they never did. But then, on their Instagram they say they empower women. It was contradictory type of behavior that I felt was going on in the fashion industry where you just felt these designers don’t want to see thicker girls in their clothes — period. It’s heartbreaking. […] What I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is to take my frustration or take the things that have hurt me and use them to uplift me and also to help uplift other people.”

Nina Parker on realizing the plus-size options on the market weren’t up to par: “It’s never really something that’s an epiphany. It’s something that you see and get frustrated by. I’ve always been a tall girl and thicker in stature, but once I got into college, I was eating on my own and started to get a little thicker. I started going shopping with my friends, and I started to notice that the clothes aren’t on the same floor, they’re not available. ‘Why don’t they make these jeans in my size, but they make them in my friend’s size who’s a size 6? Why can’t I wear the same jeans as a 6 if I’m a 16? I don’t understand why fashion and trendy fashion is only applicable to smaller sizes.’ It didn’t make any sense to me! I was like, ‘I want to look good. I want to look cute.’ Plus size is not one thing. A girl can be a size 16 and still have a coke bottle shape or a round shape and would still want to wear it. We shouldn’t be policing how women want to dress. It’s like, we give them the options and they figure out what they want to wear. For my whole life, it’s kind of been that way. It was time for a change.”

Watch our full interview with E! host Nina Parker below, and shop The Nina Parker Collection at Macy’s:

If you enjoyed this interview, check out In The Know’s recent interview with former Bachelorette Tayshia Adams:

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