Precious Lee Talks Size-Inclusive Activewear and Advice For Aspiring Models

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Precious Lee needs no introduction. The supermodel is a mainstay on runways across the globe, from the Fendi Baguette event in New York to the Versace show in Milan. She’s a staple on the red carpet, recently wowing at the CFDA Awards in a sheer catsuit paired with a powder-pink coat and a matching handbag. And she’s posed for nearly every edition of Vogue magazine, including the Dutch and the American. The one career monument she’s excited to add to her impressive résumé? Working with Rihanna.

“Rihanna is such an inspiration and an excellent example of playing by your own rules and empowering people to honor their individuality,” Lee, 33, tells POPSUGAR. The Georgia-bred model is the newest ambassador for Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Sport collection, the brand’s first foray into activewear. Led by Rihanna’s longtime collaborator Adam Selman, who serves as executive design director, the line will debut in “Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 4,” streaming on Prime Video starting Nov. 9.

The collection masterfully blends ready-to-wear trends with activewear capabilities, even mixing in lingerie-inspired flourishes, as is Savage X Fenty’s signature. In essence, it’s designed to upgrade your workout options, while also fitting in seamlessly with your going-out wardrobe. “I think it’s fab to wear workout wear beyond the gym,” Lee shares. “Working out shouldn’t be so isolated from our daily activities. We can blur the lines and look fab while doing it. And I personally get more inspired to work out by cute gym gear.”

She’s especially partial to a leopard catsuit that one could wear to lift weights in the gym or slip on for a night out dancing. “Whatever vibe you’re on, you can build from that,” Lee advises. “I’d personally pair the leopard catsuit with a fab black trench coat and a fire shoe.”

Savage X Fenty

Endless styling possibilities aside, Savage X Fenty Sport’s inclusive size range — offered in sizes XS to 4X — makes it stand out in a crowded market. “Having different bodies should not isolate us or ostracize one group or another,” says Lee, “so having a sportswear line highlight diverse bodies is essential to creating genuine inclusion.”

Diversity in activewear imagery is critical, as it serves to disrupt the myth that plus-size people are not active or physically fit. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth — and brands like Savage X Fenty Sport and Lizzo’s Yitty prove there’s a growing, untapped market for size-inclusive activewear.

To have a size 14/16 model front a sportswear launch of this magnitude is a leap for transcending boundaries and old imagery that we’ve seen over and over again.

Of course, Lee has long been an advocate for size inclusivity in fashion. Several history-making firsts have marked her ascent: she became the first Black plus-size model to appear in American Vogue in 2015 and the first Black plus-size model to appear in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue in 2016.

She views her Savage X Fenty Sport appointment as another career milestone, and a signal of “huge progression in the industry.” “To have a size 14/16 model front a sportswear launch of this magnitude is a leap for transcending boundaries and old imagery that we’ve seen over and over again,” she says. “I’m grateful that Rihanna sees the beauty in diversity and practices what she preaches with having diverse ambassadors that aren’t for just for performative purposes. It’s an authentic stance on inclusion.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 09: Models walk the finale on the runway at the Fendi Spring Summer 2023 during September 2022 New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Hammerstein Ballroom on September 09, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Randy Brooke/WireImage)Precious Lee walking in Fendi’s Spring 2023 show. Image Source: Getty Images / Randy Brooke

While celebrating her many groundbreaking accomplishments, Lee is also intentional about paving the way for curve models following in her footsteps. Her advice for aspiring plus-size models? “Check your intentions first,” she says. “Why do you want to do this? Who are you doing it for? That will sustain you through the years you have to work to get to where you want to be. . . . Keep your focus on your intention and you’ll get what you deserve. Don’t dim your light for anything. Don’t diminish your dreams for anyone. God’s timing is divine. And don’t forget to celebrate and love you through every stage.”

Lee says that wisdom sustained her as she strived to reach the pinnacle of her profession. “I am not an overnight success. I’ve paid a whole lot of dues. I’ve fought some wild battles, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I stand 10 toes down, and for that, I’m not just proud of myself, I’m deeply inspired to continue to gracefully take everything that is mine.”

Ahead, see Lee’s first Savage X Fenty shoot and shop select pieces from the line.

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