Gabrielle Union is about as real as it gets — and so is her clothing line!
The actress, entrepreneur, author, fashion designer and activist chatted exclusively with Access about her newest collection for New York & Company (out now) and the real-life women who inspire her style, including her "L.A.'s Finest" co-star Jessica Alba.
"I'm lucky that I get to work with one of my inspirations, Jessica Alba," Gabrielle said. "I'm obsessed with her style. Just today, she popped in with these overalls and a sports bra, and I was like, 'Yaasss!' She's got a great aesthetic that goes from high fashion to super-comfy L.A. chic, which I love."
The "Being Mary Jane" star admitted she also turns to InStyle's Fashion and Beauty Editor-At-Large Kahlana Barfield for help when it comes to designing the versatile clothing in her collection
"I'm always thinking, 'WWKD, or what would Kahlana do? Would Kahlana put this on?'" Gabrielle said. "She actually inspired every piece because I say, 'Do you think Kahlana would wear this?' If it's a no, then that's a strong no from me. She just has insane taste. It's so good — everything she puts on her body is so good!"
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Gabrielle's newest offering for New York & Company includes a lot of denim, as well as trendy tops and bottoms that can easily transition from office-to-happy hour, day-to-night or weekday-to-weekend. And just like her previous collections, the sizes range from petite to plus and it's affordable with all the pieces under $100, except outerwear.
The "Breaking In" actress explained that comfort and inclusivity were two of her top priorities for her third partnership with the brand.
"You can't claim to be empowering to women when you are murdering budgets and creating uncomfortable clothes that are built for pre-teens that you need a small army to put on your body," Gabrielle said. "You can't rule the world when you feel like you're being attacked."
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She added, "I literally created a line for the real women in my own family and it turns out most of America is like my family. There is age diversity, size diversity, life diversity and everybody wants to feel seen and be included in fashion. To me, not having clothes that are for everyone just feels cruel and it's bad business. I'm trying to be a good businesswoman and that means being as inclusive as possible."
Gabrielle revealed her favorite piece at the moment is the Ultra-Soft Chambray Jumpsuit ($90). "The denim jumpsuit is fire," she gushed. "I've already worn it twice. It goes easily from day-to-night and it looks great on all body types. It's also super comfortable, hugs you in all the right places and makes your butt sit up."
Graphics also play a big role in her collection with the "Rule The World" Bomber Jacket ($130) and the "Love & Light" Tee ($50). Gabrielle admitted those mantras come from her personal life and evolution.
"I say love and light all the time, especially when I'm annoyed and I want to cuss somebody out," she said. "Like when Michelle Obama talks about taking the high road, just know when I say 'Love and light,' sometimes I mean exactly that and sometimes it's the nicest way to say 'F**k you.' I'm just going to wish you love and light because maybe that will change your heart and your mind and your behavior."
She continued, "Then with 'Rule The World,' I want everyone to feel like they're prepared to take over their own world. A lot of times we feel like our lives are the kite and we're the string sort of following behind as opposed to being the queens of our own castle. So I just want to remind us to rule the world."
-- Gabi Duncan