Gabrielle Union’s new line for New York & Company has finally arrived, and not only will you want every item—you'll actually be able to afford them too. The Being Mary Jane star's mission as a fashion designer is simple and relatable: “I want to make easy-to-wear, easy-fit, comfortable clothing that you can wear from work to the club, and it doesn’t feel like it’s attacking you,” she told InStyle. Amen to that.
The actress-turned-designer was particularly excited to create the line for New York & Co. because she's not the first Union to work with the brand. “My sister used to work there when she was in high school and worked her way up to management, and I always associated the company with being a boss bitch," she said. "It’s a line that has been around my family forever. And so when they asked about collaborating on a line I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ It was like a part of my foundation, so it was easy and organic. They’re a company that believes in real collaboration, not just, ‘Here, stick your name on this,’ so I’m a part of everything from material to sizing to fit. I’m the Guinea Pig. If I’m having trouble, I’m like ‘This is too complicated.’”
The star's aptly titled Union collection is created with women of every background and economic bracket in mind. “New York & Company, by and large, is very affordable," she said. "But even with my own family it’s like ‘Yeah, I can only get one piece … I want to be able to get as many pieces of a wardrobe as possible, but I just wish it was a little bit more accessible … ' So I listened when people were complaining. Some people just hear complaints. I hear constructive criticism and I try to adjust it as much as I can. Just like people were like, ‘We need extended sizes, we need more diversity of sizes,’ and I heard you loud and clear, and I’m offering it."
To celebrate the spirit of diversity that drives her fashion line, Union recruited her female co-stars from BET’s Being Mary Jane to model her clothes.
“I thought, who better to reflect the body shape diversity that the line is embracing? Who better to be the face of fly, dope, boss-bitch women than my cast? And who can own the clothes, opposed to the clothes owning them? My cast on BMJ.”
The mega-popular series will conclude later this year with a two-hour finale film, and Gabrielle sees the NY & Co. campaign as a “last hurrah” for her and her family of female co-stars.
“It’s my thank you to them, wanting them and asking them to be included in this ad campaign,” she said.
Along with saying goodbye to her cast, Union is struggling to part with her character, Mary Jane, who she's—well—been since 2013. “It’s like a friend is going to be moving away at the end of the summer, so you’re trying to get as much out of the relationship as possible,” she said.
But for however familiar Union has become with Mary Jane Paul, she’s the first to admit that the fictional news anchor has her faults. “She’s fun, she’s flawed, she didn’t learn quickly. You’ve got one good time to mess up, and I’m like ‘I think I got the message, I got the lesson there.’ Mary Jane makes mistakes over and over. She’s the friend we love to hate and we hate to love sometimes—but we watch her.”
If there’s one thing that Union and her TV counterpart share, though, it’s style. “Each season, things go missing,” Union said, referencing her on-set wardrobe, “and you can find them in my home.”
“I almost want to archive them somewhere, like the most iconic looks from Mary Jane,” Union told us. “I don’t know if I’m ready to walk away from her closet.”