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. A fixture on the red carpet, she recently graced the CFDA Awards in a sheer catsuit paired with a powder pink coat and matching handbag. And she has posed for almost every issue of Vogue magazine, including the Dutch and the American. The one career monument she’s excited to add to her impressive resume? Work with Rihanna.

“Rihanna is such an inspiration and a great example of playing by your own rules and allowing 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 from Nov. 9.

The collection masterfully blends ready-to-wear trends with activewear features, even mixing in lingerie-inspired flourishes like Savage X Fenty’s signature. Essentially, it’s designed to upgrade your workout options while seamlessly fitting into your going-out wardrobe. “I think it’s great to wear workout clothes beyond the gym,” Lee says. “Working out shouldn’t be so isolated from our daily activities. We can blur the lines and look amazing while doing it. And personally, I’m more inspired to work out by cute workout gear.”

She’s especially partial to a leopard cat suit that you could wear to lift weights at the gym or put on for a night out. “Whatever mood you’re in, you can build from that,” advises Lee. “I would personally pair the leopard suit with a fabulous black trench coat and fire boots.”

Savage X Fenty

Aside from endless styling options, Savage X Fenty Sports’ inclusive size range—offered in sizes XS through 4X—makes it stand out in a crowded market. “Having different bodies shouldn’t isolate us or ostracize one group or another,” says Lee, “so having a sportswear line that highlights different bodies is essential to creating true inclusion.”

Diversity in activewear imagery is essential as it serves to disrupt the myth that plus size individuals 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 plus-size activewear.

Having a size 14/16 model front a sportswear launch of this magnitude is a leap to transcend boundaries and old images that we’ve seen time and time again.

Of course, Lee has long been an advocate for size inclusivity in fashion. Several history-making firsts have marked her rise: 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 sees her Savage X Fenty Sport appointment as another career milestone and a signal of “great progress in the industry.” “Having a size 14/16 model front a sportswear launch of this magnitude is a leap to transcend boundaries and old images that we’ve seen time and time again,” she says. “I’m thankful that Rihanna sees the beauty in diversity and practices what she preaches by having diverse ambassadors that aren’t just for performative purposes. It’s an authentic stance on inclusion.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 9: Models walk the runway finale at Fendi Spring Summer 2023 during September 2022 New York Fashion Week: Shows at Hammerstein Ballroom on September 9, 2022 in New York City.  (Photo by Randy Brooke/WireImage)Precious Lee walks in Fendi’s Spring 2023 show. Image source: Getty Images/Randy Brooke

While celebrating her many groundbreaking accomplishments, Lee is also conscious of paving the way for curve models to follow 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? It will carry you through the years you have to work to get to where you want to be… Keep your focus on your intention and you will 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 yourself through every stage.”

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

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

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