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How model Candice Huffine is making fitness—and fashion—more inclusive, one pair of leggings at a time


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Photo: Fumie Hoppe

Should you ever play a game of truth or dare with Candice Huffine, be prepared: “Not only will I accept your dare, I’ll turn it into something even bigger,” says the plus-sized model. That fearless attitude has served her well during her 17 year career in the fashion industry—as well as in her fledgling one as a marathon runner—turned activewear designer.

Here, she shares the one thing the two worlds have in common—a lack of inclusiveness—which she’s hoping to change by empowering women to live their best lives through her new extended sizes line of workout clothes. 

I’ve only been running for two years now. But after my husband dared me to train for and run a half-marathon, I started to figure out what my life looked like as a runner. When you make one small goal, the next thing you know, the universe takes over and gives you an even bigger one.

That’s how I found myself training and lining up at the start of the Boston Marathon. Then I followed it up with the New York City Marathon in the same year, because why not? From January until I reached that finish line in Central Park, I felt like I was running for my life, training nonstop.

There isn’t enough diverse representation or inclusivity in the kind of athletes and women we see and are supposed to be inspired by.

As I was immersing myself in my new running lifestyle, I noticed there isn’t enough diverse representation or inclusivity in the kind of athletes and women we see and are supposed to be inspired by. This is something I’ve found exists in the fashion world and the fitness world— I’ve been modeling for 17 years.

You can’t be the person you want to be if you can’t simply get dressed and feel confident going out in the world to dare yourself to do these things. So, in the midst of marathon training, I founded and launched my activewear company, Day/Won. It was a no-brainer to be the one to fill the hole I saw in the market, and to be at the helm of a brand that could make things available for all women to be inspired, to get out and move their bodies, or to just do whatever the hell they want in their leggings. That’s because a woman can have set goals for herself and have the best intentions and clearest vision of who she wants to be or the life she wants to lead—but if you can’t even put on an outfit to be comfortable leaving the house, you’ve stopped before you even got started.

Candice Huffine
Huffine after finishing the Boston Marathon. Photo: Candice Huffine

I’ve always had a passion for design. But I thought that when the time came to create my own line, it would be jeans, tees, dresses, and ready-to-wear items. I never imagined I’d be designing high-performance activewear right out of the gates. But there’s a reason and timing for everything. If I didn’t take my husband’s dare to run my first half-marathon, if I didn’t continue running, if I didn’t become a marathoner, if I didn’t fully embrace that world and lifestyle, I wouldn’t have become so passionate about activewear. It all comes full circle, and Day/Won was born by combining the two worlds I live in now.

I didn’t want any of the issues I had faced for so long to exist anymore and for anyone else.

I knew I needed things that could hold up, fit me well, and carry me for 26.2 miles. So my first question when I met with Ziel, a manufacturer in New York City that is completely eco-friendly and sustainable, was: “How high in sizing can we go?” I’m a size 12 in activewear, and many brands run on a small/medium basis. I didn’t want to do that. So Day/Won runs by dress sizes from size 0 to size 32 (XS to 5XL in tops and bottoms). I wanted everything to be available for every woman, which is something I’ve always struggled with. I was out there, trying, testing, living in these products. I didn’t want any of the issues I had faced for so long to exist anymore and for anyone else.

Photo: Fumie Hoppe

One of the mainstays of the collection are the motto leggings. The first ones said “P.S. You Got This,” which I created as a nod to the running community and the Project Start movement I launched in 2016. I’m all about a mantra—I have framed quotes all over my apartment, so it makes sense to get them on apparel, too. “P.S. You Got This” is something I say to myself on a regular basis, and those leggings are still one of our top sellers.

It’s not just about our bodies—it’s about our rights, dreams, goals, heritage, confidence.

The next run of the motto leggings said “Can’t Touch This,” which was inspired by the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. And it’s not just about our bodies—it’s about our rights, dreams, goals, heritage, confidence. All these things are ours, and no one can step in and touch them. We’re taking back ownership of everything, and we’re in this together. We’re untouchable.

Photo: Fumie Hoppe

It’s been six months since Day/Won launched, and the reaction has been overwhelming and lovely. I love promoting a message that reminds women to take time for themselves, and to stop putting ourselves so low on the list of what gets attention. I want women to constantly be asking, “Did I win this day?” And if not, make that adjustment so the answer becomes yes.

I want women to constantly be asking, “Did I win this day?” And if not, make that adjustment so the answer becomes yes.

I want Day/Won to grow to be among the titans of the industry like Nike and Adidas. I believe in it so much, in the quality, in the fit, in the message. We’re small now, and I don’t know how long it takes to become a household name, but I’m not going to stop until we are.

It’s not lost on me that my life has been a series of fortunate events. I reflect on the past years and frequently notice myself saying, “An opportunity was presented to me.” With each, though, my goal is to make it something women as a whole can benefit from. I want to build communities, safe spaces, and give inspiration and motivate female empowerment through every personal, life-changing experience I’m afforded.

This isn’t about me ticking boxes, self-serving, or watching a follower count rise. I want to make a mark that’s remembered and helpful for women for years to come. I ran a marathon in these clothes, and I’m wearing them right now on my couch. I’m my best self in these clothes—they’re more than just leggings to me.

Ride that wave of female empowerment by reading this post on how learning to lift weights helped Chinae Alexander start her fitness journey. Or this one on what traveling solo taught this writer about self-love

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