Emma Grede, Good American CEO and cofounder, and Ashley Graham opened up to PEOPLE about the brand's #GoodSquad casting call in Los Angeles
In addition to the brand’s size-inclusive apparel collections, the partners have worked endlessly behind the scenes to create a community that represents their outlook on diversity, starting with the models who actually wear their clothes. Enter: Good American's annual Open Casting Call.
Since 2016, the company has hosted their own model outreach program to form what they call the #GoodSquad, “a group of confident and badass women who embody the brand’s ethos.” And this month, it hosted its seventh annual casting event with the help of supermodel Ashley Graham.
While speaking with PEOPLE exclusively in Los Angeles, where the final event of the intiative was held on Saturday, Grede admits that Good American “never intended” to have all the answers to the fashion industry’s problems, but adds that sourcing authentic voices in their branding was only the step in the right direction.
“This is about making everyone feel the most comfortable and the most confident that they can be,” Grede says. “There are some girls here that want to be models. There are some that just want a platform to say and express who they are, what they believe in, what they feel passionate about. It's so nice as a brand that you can give people that because different women do different things."
Since its founding, Good American’s growth has, in part, been measured by its huge “commercial success,” like its store openings across the country.
But for Grede, all of that is incomparable to the inspiring energy that thrives during the castings.
The latest one, hosted in partnership with Zoom events, took on new immersive experiences merging technology and fashion, such as its affirmation wall, “Find Your Fit" station and panel with stylist Karla Welch and author Meena Harris. All of it was livestreamed, making it possible for Good American shoppers around the world to join the impact panel with Grede and Graham.
“We just want more people to have a leg up and more people to have the opportunity,” Grede says.
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So, what makes a knockout candidate for Good American’s #GoodSquad? Graham looks for “persistence,” a quality she admires even when she’s receiving multiple social media DMs from aspiring models.
“I see everything. I really do. Ella for example,” she says, referring to a participant at the event, “[direct messaged me], I'm not joking, maybe 50 times.”
Graham, who’s not only looking to be someone’s cheerleader but also their guidepost, answered because she was hooked by Ella's online content, and therefore her determination. And that, is where the magic lies.
“I feel like in the beginning of my career, there was nobody to turn to,” Grede adds. “There'll be something that just stands out and I'm like, I've been there. I've done it. That was a sticky moment for me. I do see some of myself in some of these girls.”
It all comes back to Good American's ethos to be a brand for everyone that continues to stay true to its core mission — through its casting and its product.
"You need it to be consistent and you need it to be true," Grede tells PEOPLE. "So much of what happens, especially in the fashion industry, is performative or it's seasonal, right? It's like, we'll do it now because everybody's watching and when they're not, we'll quiet it back down. The open casting is the heart of who we are. We'll be doing this in 30 years' time. It is always going to be the lifeblood of the company because it's the manifestation of all the work that we do."
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