DARE Magazine is sassy, stylish digital magazine for plus-size women based right here in Toronto. Its led by 20-something EIC.
DARE Magazine is sassy, stylish digital magazine for plus-size women based right here in Toronto. Its led by 20-something EIC Diana Di Poce and a small group of like-minded women who want to see themselves reflected in the Canadian media landscape. Too often, mainstream glossies overlook curvy women or regulate them to special issues or features.
The mag is a breakthrough success, currently publishing six issues a year (catch up on the latest at daremag.ca) and boasting a strong international following. We caught up with Di Poce to see how she did it, and where DARE goes from here.
How did you start DARE?
I was in the fashion communications program at Ryerson, and we had to create a thesis in the fourth year. I had interned at fashion magazines, so I knew I wanted to art direct and design my very own publication. I looked at myself and thought, Who do I want to create this for? Why not for women like myself? I was working with Ben Barry, an advocate for diversity in Canada, and he pushed all the students to explore these sorts of ideas.
I completed the first issue of DARE as my thesis for school, but then I decided to launch it. It got such great feedback, I decided to keep it going.
Is this your full-time job now?
It is. At first I was a little nervous, because I had a full-time job elsewhere, but the response was so amazing and there was so much press surrounding the magazines launch that I decided to take the chance. That was just a month after I graduated university. Now its been almost two years.
Although youre based in Canada, DARE has a surprisingly far reach. How did you achieve that?
When I first started the magazine, I did some research and realized that plus-size fashion isnt just an industry its a community of women including bloggers, designers and plus-size women who love fashion. They come together and support everyone. DARE is Canadas first plus-size fashion magazine, but we do have a lot of readers from the U.S. and even overseas because of that strong online community.
Do you deal with a lot of trolling? How do you cope?
Theres always some negative feedback and trolling. Even just looking through the sites and feeds of curvy bloggers and icons, you can see there are a lot of people who try to take them down with hateful comments. Its best just to ignore them. Theres nothing you can do about them and, sadly, theyre always going to be around. We try to focus on the positive. DARE receives 90 per cent positive comments, so theres no need to give trolls the time of day.
What do you think about the term plus-size?
From an industry perspective, its important to have the term plus-size to differentiate the two styles of clothing. Going into a store, it does make it easier for a customer to know where to shop.
However, I dont think its important to label it everywhere. For example, if you look at our name, DARE, theres nothing that explicitly labels us as plus-size or curvy. We do use that language to describe the magazine, but we dont paste it all over the cover. I understand that some women dont want to be labelled, but Im completely okay with the term.
How have you found working with brands and advertisers? Have they been supportive?
They have been such amazing supporters, especially Canadian brands. We launched our first ever print issue with Penningtons last fall, which was released in all their retail locations and a huge success. It was great for our readers to be able to pick up a physical copy of the magazine. Weve also worked with brands to attend Toronto Fashion Week and represent curves there, which is something you dont typically see.
What do you think of the state of plus-size fashion in Canada? How diverse are we?
The industry and the options for plus-size women are growing. Theres a lot more than there was even two years ago. Indie plus-size boutiques like Your Big Sisters Closet and Primaala are based in Toronto, so there are definitely good Canadian options. In terms of the larger retailers, the styles of plus-size clothes they offer are continually becoming more and more fashion-forward. Theres still room to grow, though.
How can the fashion industry improve?
Representing plus-size women in mainstream magazines and runway shows, and not separating them as much, would be a huge improvement, as would mixing plus-size fashion shows with sample-size shows.
Have you thought about moving into print?
At the moment, were just going to continue to release more and more issues. Were very comfortable and happy to remain a digital publication because most plus-size stores are available to customers online. Also because the plus-size community has such a strong support group online, remaining digital is a great way to reach our demographic.