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BLUEKI curve / plus size clothing by model Yumi Nu
Courtesy of BLUEKI

BLUEKI is the size inclusive label creating cute wardrobe ‘building blocks’

Founded by NY-based curve model Yumi Nu, the label’s slick lace-up corsets and coquettish minis are a direct response to the lack of options offered up by high fashion

Fashion might have started putting more ‘curve’ models on the runway in recent years, but the reality is the clothes that line the racks of some of the industry’s biggest players rarely extend past a UK size 14. It’s a depressing state of affairs for fashion fans who want, and have the cold hard cash, to swathe themselves in luxury clothes, and even stranger that the brands themselves are still so reluctant to cater to a community that spent $6.8 billion in 2022 in the US alone. Truly: who are these people’s CFOs?  

In the face of this, we’re seeing a boom in small independent brands making the kind of size-inclusive clothes larger people actually want to wear – with not a naff peplum or mumsy exaggerated sleeve in sight. Case in point is new label Blueki. Founded in late 2022, the NY-based knitwear brand comes courtesy of model Yumi Nu, and features a small but well formed line-up of second-skin cut-out dresses, lace-up corsets, and coquettish minis (she also somehow manages to make a shrug an appealing proposal, which is no mean feat).

With 13 years spent travelling the world as a model, appearing on the covers of Vogue and Sports Illustrated, and stomping the catwalks for the likes of Jacquemus and Ester Manas, Nu’s idea for Blueki came during the dark days of the pandemic. While the rest of us were crying at our makeshift desks and cracking beers open at 3pm, she began to create the blueprint for what would become her brand.

“[During that time] I was online shopping like most people, with the intention of building a long lasting wardrobe I could count on,” she recalls. “With my experience both as a model and a customer, I realised I’d hit a wall that so many of us had hit. There are two options for the larger sized customer: either good fitting, cute styles made unethically with poor quality through fast fashion, or ethically made, good-quality, not-so-cute shapeless garments on the other side. We’re cornered into buying terribly made cute clothes or quality ugly clothes,” she adds. 

Right now, her first collection amounts to a handful of key pieces – the building blocks of what she hopes will become a more encompassing wardrobe – ranging from XS right up to 6XXL, but she has big plans to expand and take it even further. “Even many ‘plus-size’ lines stop at a 2X or a 3X, forgetting about a huge portion of the market,” she explains. “Eventually I want to do an NYFW show one day, where all sizes are represented on the runway. The sky’s the limit, and this is just the beginning. Here, she talks her personal style, being a curve model in an industry that’s been slow to embrace them, and taking Blueki BIG.

Hey Yumi. First of all, how would you describe Blueki? What’s the vibe? 

Yumi Nu: Blueki is classic, sleek, and timeless, sprinkled with some modern edge. 

Who’s your ideal customer? Who do you want to see wearing it? 

Yumi Nu: Myself, my friends, anyone who wants to.

A lot of big brands go on about how hard it would be to extend their sizes. Did you run into any problems or challenges with Blueki? 

Yumi Nu: Yes and no. It’s true that extending your sizes cost a lot more and requires more time and energy into making sure you have the fit right. The plus size customer doesn’t want anything different in style than the main collections, we just want what everyone else is offered, but catered to our sizes. 

“I see high fashion advertising getting better, which is amazing, but would love to see more — the  biggest thing though is actually fulfilling what their advertising suggests and including real extended sizes in their collections” – Yumi Nu

How would you describe your own style? 

Yumi Nu: Over the years I’ve gotten sucked into all the trends and I’ve tried to find myself in them. But, I think as of now and what I’ve always been chasing under the current of social media, it’s timelessness while also honouring personality. I love mixing classic pieces with some pops of colour or personality. 

What’s been your best experience as a model, and your worst? 

Yumi Nu: I don’t necessarily have a best or worst. So many of the experiences I have as a model are incredible. I’m just happy to be here. I know I’m in a privileged position, a position so many people dream to be in. While a lot of the industry is now putting in care and intention in their inclusivity and the models that represent that, there have been countless occasions of lack of preparation in styling and sizes when I’m on set. When you’re the biggest model on set, sometimes it already feels isolating and then on top of that when you can’t wear anything either, it’s a terrible feeling. The stylists that really prepare are ones that mean a lot to me. 

Do you feel like fashion is genuinely improving in terms of size inclusivity? 

Yumi Nu: This is a very obvious answer, but it’s true – I feel like we’ve come a long way, but there’s so much further to go, particularly in high fashion). The commercial industry has become a way more welcoming place in the way their sizing and advertisements have changed, but high fashion has made some pretty microscopic shifts in inclusivity. Only a small percentage of high fashion brands use a curve model in their shows and when they do, they only make room for one or two. I see high fashion advertising getting better, which is amazing, but would love to see more — the  biggest thing though is actually fulfilling what their advertising suggests and including real extended sizes in their collections. 

Where do you want to take the brand next? What does the future look like? 

Yumi Nu: My goal is for Blueki to go big. I want to have the financial resources to create anything and everything that we didn’t and currently don’t have in the fashion industry for all sizes. I want to cater to different heights, genders, everyone — while doing it with quality and doing it ethically. I’d love to have big storefronts in major cities where any person of any size can go in and try something that fits. Currently the in person shopping experience is a nightmare for a plus size person. I want to do a NYFW show one day, where all sizes are represented on the runway. The sky’s the limit and this is just the beginning.