In the real world, the term “plus size” is usually used to describe bodies north of the size 16 range, but brands tend to take a lot more liberties with the moniker. Eager to earn the “inclusivity” badge, designers and agencies tend to use the term as a marketing ploy, sometimes cynically, sometimes with intentions that haven’t been fully realized. Since all of the “plus size” mannequins used by fashion brands are actually medium-sized mannequins (size 8-14), it’s not hard to see why all it took was a message at the wrong time to catapult the first Egyptian site dedicated to diversity. the Invicta modeling agency was born.
One summer afternoon, 22-year-old Rolla Al Arabi was scrolling through her Instagram timeline when she spotted a modeling agency post about their new hire, someone they categorized as a plus-size model. “She wasn’t tall,” Al Arabi told SceneStyled. “As a curvy girl, seeing this post made me feel so misrepresented. We can’t be given the impression that this is the norm for plus-size models, so I decided to open the agency on the spot. Although she only had $100 to her name, she rolled up her sleeves and launched the agency the following November.
Named after the Latin word meaning “too mighty to defeat,” Al Arabi has no money in mind. Instead, she wants to help change the way we look at our bodies. “I want someone to be able to point to a pole and say, ‘That girl looks like me!’ says Al Arabi. “I had no experience running an agency, but I remembered how much this kind of thing affected me when I was young and wanted to change things. Fashion people have to learn that it is one thing to preach diversity and another thing to act on it.
While reviewing the model applications she receives, Al Arabi said she doesn’t really look at their looks. Tall, short, skinny, curvy, that’s not the point. She tries to choose her models based on their character and professionalism, and strictly enforces a rule only above 18 years old.
Since launching, Invicta has worked with a number of local brands and businesses including Najlah, Doxxhouse, Izla, Obsidian and Revolt, with many more to come. “At the end of the day, if just one person tells me that I managed to make them feel more represented, that’s enough for me,” says Al Arabi. “That’s what I wanted when I was young.”