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Get To Know Nina Parker: Emmy-Nominated Host Turned Designer With A Mission To Give Curvy Women A Better Stake In Fashion

With the launch of the Nina Parker Collection in partnership with Reunited Clothing and Macy’s, Parker is providing high-quality and accessible plus-size wardrobe options. She shares with Sweet July her journey to launching the collection, how she balances careers in media and fashion, and more.

Let this be a lesson on the power of manifesting: It started with Nina Parker posting to her vision board an idea to launch her very own fashion line (a natural goal for the E! Nightly Pop host who’s always been open about designing many of the clothes she wears on camera). Three weeks after the vision board exercise, Parker was approached by Reunited Clothing and Macy’s to collaborate on a clothing line. Not long after that came the launch of Parker’s eponymous brand, for which she serves as co-founder and creative director.

Parker was first inspired to launch a clothing line after experiencing a hard time finding wardrobe options that suited both her size and her style. “I felt like I dressed differently than what options were available to me,” she says. Her line of high-quality, accessible wardrobe options for curvy women aims to address this issue.

Parker shares the journey to starting her collection, the needs it’s serving in the fashion industry (including the ones she didn’t see coming), and her evolving mission of helping Black women find their voices across the beauty, health and wellness industries.

Photo: Jack Waterlot
Photo: Jack Waterlot

Since launching the Nina Parker collection, how are you seeing it impact the fashion industry? 

Nina Parker: There’s so many options for women who are thin—you can wear your boyfriend’s clothes, you can wear clothes for you, with fast-fashion you can kind of put a tank top on and it looks okay on you. When you’re thicker, it doesn’t work like that—it has to be quality clothes. For me it was about not only providing options, but also providing quality options. Also options [for diverse wear]. I have a skirt where you can wear the zipper in the front, you can wear the zipper in the back, you can wear it on the side, you can zip it all the way up to mid-thigh. You can wear it in different ways, so that you can make it look like different outfits. For me, it was important to have versatility with the clothes.

What I didn’t quite expect: There are so many women who have sent me stories about not feeling seen, not feeling heard, not being able to wear something that they felt was cute for graduation or for a wedding. I didn’t expect so many to come my way. I literally just had someone send me their vision board and my dress was on it.

What has it been like seeing clothes from your collection also being worn on TV? 

NP: I actually had someone tweet me—they were like, “Um, I think your collection is on the Lifetime movie [Single Black Female].” I literally tweeted the person, “can you send me a screenshot?” 

People, no matter what walk of life, see how [they’re] being shorted. When you’re plus—whether you’re an A-lister or whether you’re the regular working girl—a lot of us are having the same struggles. It seems like the [clothing] line has really united people and given people a feeling of, “Okay, cool, there are people who care about us.” People are feeling fly. And I love that.

Photo: Jack Waterlot
Photo: Jack Waterlot

How do your careers as a host and a fashion designer complement one another?

NP: It really showed me how many connections I had across platforms. I had people reaching out to me from all of these different places where I used to work. A lot of the press I got was literally just people that I had connected with over the years. It’s really amazing to have that kind of support within the journalistic community.

You’ve also focused on helping Black women navigate the healthcare system. Can you talk about why this work is important to you? 

NP: I had several nurses in my family, and so there were more open conversations because I had family in the medical field who really would talk to us. But in general, I feel like not everybody has access to that information. I really do believe information is power. I also understand wanting information from people who look like you.

I have severe asthma, and with my initial diagnosis, the doctor scared me. He was like, ‘Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” It was a jarring conversation—I ended up in tears. And I had to go to a different doctor, who was like, “Wait, no, I’m sorry, the diagnosis is wrong.” It was such a confusing time. A lot of bedside manner in the medical field hasn’t been kind to Black women, and I wanted to help bridge that gap. I partnered with AstraZeneca—it wasn’t plugging anything, it was just a website of information where you can go to take a questionnaire to be able to properly see what your symptoms are. And then there’s a guide to go to different doctors, to show you what’s available in your area. For me, it’s just being able to provide information to people—not tell you what you need to do, but to just say “Hey, here’s some options and resources for you.” That’s the most important thing we can do. I’m hoping to continue that partnership, to speak to Black people and link them in the medical field so that they can see there’s nothing to be afraid of.

What are you most excited about this year and beyond? 

NP: I am just really putting myself out there in different spaces. I’ve been hosting national television shows since 2007. I’m very comfortable hosting TV, so I’ve started to expand outside of my normal celebrity-centered hosting. I’m trying to do more to grow. 

Being able to start this clothing line with Reunited Clothing and Macy’s has given me a lot of independence that I just didn’t have before. A lot of times, when you’re in entertainment, there’s things you do that you maybe don’t want to do. I had to determine what was really important to me. Do I need to be seen to feel important? Can what I’m contributing matter if not everybody is yelling my name from the rooftops? Sometimes when you’re in this industry, you get distracted with the attention and not the work. For me, this clothing line has recentered me on what’s important, and I hope to do more of that.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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