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This Egyptian Fashion Campaign Refusing to Label Models is Off the Charts

La Reina Exchange is eradicating the notion of an average size for models.

As the fashion industry continues to boom in Egypt, model's waists seem to be getting smaller and smaller. Having been subjected to the media's stereotype of the perfect figure and ideal size, most women's perception of themselves is either an unattainable version of skinny perfection or a sense of shame for having a little something "extra". Looking to disperse all notions of what an ideal women should look like, La Reina Exchange is launching Off The Charts; the campaign that doesn't measure women in terms of sizes but rather in terms of happiness and confidence. 

La Reina Exchange - which was founded in 2016 - is the first Egyptian online platform that rents out designer wedding dresses and evening gowns at an affordable price. Founders, Ghada El Tanawy and Amr Diab came up with the idea after noticing the rising prices in dresses and the effort it takes to make or purchase a designer dress that the bride will only end up wearing for one night and then disregard.

"A lot of women just wear their dresses that one time. Then the dresses are kept in the closet; gathering dust. So we decided to start a platform that showcases the dresses to interested renters,” says Tantawy of the inspiration behind the online closet. “We don’t have any dresses older than 2014 though.”

Having initially found the models for the brand through word of mouth, La Reina Exchange recently started finding their models by posting ads on Instagram. And they’ve decided to call out to all Egyptian women to come take part in the shoot with only three requirements, to be happy, confident and healthy. The modelling call which is not limited to any one size or shape has already garnered interests from a lot of women. 

“We hope that by the time we’re done with our campaign, there’ll be no average size. Everyone will just be themselves. We want to remove the labels that are placed on women depending on their size. Because at the end of the day, what is average? We decide the average.  And this unrealistic ideal of what women should look like is something all women suffer from, regardless of age, size, or nationality.” says Tantawy of the pressure put on women by society, to look a certain way. 

Condemning the influence of the digital world for the way women view their bodies, La Reina Exchange looks to trade in the photoshopped version of models for a more natural representation.

"We want to be relatable. We don't want to give a definition to what a model should look like. Words are very restricting. We don't want to say this is a model and this is not. Because sometimes, you have two women who wear the same size but have a different figure and so it'll look different on each one," explains Tantawy. 

Having noticed a shortage in sizes 40-42, La reina set out to find models of that fit. However, they ran into a few disappointing attempts during the casting calls.

"The women either didn't want to model because they didn't like the way they looked or they would tell us they'd come back another time when they've lost a little more weight. And it's this size that - while common in our society - is associated with a sense of fear or shame," says Tantawy of the failed casting calls. 

La Reina works with real women and wants a representation of the average Egyptian woman, rather than the air brushed version and that's what their campaign apires to encourage by setting an example.

Hosting an open call day on the 21st of April for women of all sizes and body types, La Reina Exchange will be holding discounts as well.

Check them out on Instagram and Facebook.