Meet 2023 SI Swimsuit Rookie Lauren Chan

The Canadian model makes her SI Swimsuit Issue debut in May.

Lauren Chan. Earrings provided by New York Vintage.


A model, entrepreneur and former fashion editor, Lauren Chan is a true multitalent who possesses the unique experience of having worked within various aspects of the fashion industry.

While getting her start with Ford Models in New York City, Chan also worked as a fashion writer for Vogue and Interview. She later became the fashion features editor at Glamour, where her beat focused on plus-size fashion. She has collaborated with notable brands such as Vera Wang, Christian Siriano, Valentino and Chanel.

A size-inclusion advocate, Chan is the founder and CEO of Henning, a luxury women’s wear brand focused on size inclusivity. The brand was just acquired by Universal Standard, a clothing company that carries wardrobe staples in sizes 00 to 40. Chan will join the company as head of brand partnerships.

In both her professional and personal life, Chan uses her platform to uplift others with authenticity. She serves as an ambassador to the National Eating Disorders Association and is an advisory board member for the Model Alliance.

Lauren Chan was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by MESHKI. Earrings provided by New York Vintage.

Lauren Chan was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by MESHKI. Earrings provided by New York Vintage.

It’s for these reasons and many others we are thrilled to share Chan will join the SI Swimsuit family as a 2023 rookie. She will make her debut in the annual publication next month.

“Show us a person that’s more ambitious, driven and focused than Lauren Chan,” says editor in chief MJ Day. “We’ll wait…. This model turned editor turned designer then back to model has had quite the career trajectory. She uses her platform to advocate for size inclusivity and creates content with purpose that is both relatable and captivating. She is the epitome of beauty and brains and her passion and commitment to making space for all women is what we can’t get enough of. We are excited to name Lauren as one of our Rookies for 2023!”

Chan recently traveled to the Dominican Republic for her very first SI Swimsuit feature, where she worked with photographer James Macari. We caught up with the model to chat about everything from her rookie photo shoot to her experience in the industry and how she’s currently living her most authentic life.

“I’m so excited to be a rookie this year”

The Toronto native, who played sports throughout her childhood and was on the basketball team at the University of Western Ontario, likens her SI Swimsuit rookie status to her prior experience as an athlete.

“I’m so excited to be a rookie this year,” she says. “I feel like I’ve been a rookie as an athlete many times in my life, and that’s my only other experience kind of being a rookie. And I just feel a lot of the same feelings of being part of a new family and a new team and a new way of thinking and part of this new thing that we all create together. And I just feel really at home.”

Lauren Chan was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by MESHKI. Earrings provided by New York Vintage.

Lauren Chan was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by MESHKI. Earrings provided by New York Vintage.

Chan adds she’s excited to share her story with SI Swimsuit readers and appreciates the publication’s focus on diversity and inclusivity, both of which are integral to her personal beliefs.

“We’ve evolved so much and I think that in fashion right now, we can kind of see a little bit of a slide back away from size inclusion,” she says. “It’s important to remember to keep doing what we do because it’s up to us to keep that top of mind, keep pushing for inclusion, to keep reminding people that they’re not what they look like, so that we don’t get back there because there’s the very real potential to end up that way.”

Chan defines true strength as the courage to embrace your authentic self, a trait she shows regularly, like when she opened up to her Instagram followers in February that she was going through a divorce.

“I think that strength is vulnerability, which breeds connection, which breeds self-love, which breeds everything that you’re supposed to have because you’re putting your real self out there, and then the real things that you really need and deserve and want will come,” she adds.

“It’s important to be authentic”

Chan uses her platform intentionally to foster connections while sharing her learned experience with others.

“It’s important to be authentic,” she says. “It’s important to always be conscious of what you’re creating because it impacts people for good or for bad. And a lot of what we are doing in the space of inclusion and celebration and representation is undoing what the media had done before, to make people feel othered and not good enough so that they can buy all these things that make them feel like the one standard of what is acceptable, and that doesn’t work around here.”

While Chan has experience as a fashion model, influencer, fashion editor and founder, she says all of her creative pursuits have one major theme in common: making those who consume her work feel powerful, seen and celebrated.

Lauren Chan was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by Beach Riot.

Lauren Chan was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by Beach Riot.

“Whether I do that through being a model and physically representing someone or being a founder and making clothes to fit them and make them feel peak powerful, or as an editor or writer, when I’m able to use long form and really communicate with somebody or on social and actually speak to them, it is all in the same effort of helping those people feel as great as they possibly can,” she says.

The concept of beauty, according to Chan, is one that’s ever-changing and deserves to be embraced in all its forms.

“I feel like we all work so hard our entire lives to feel worthy of celebration. … I do feel like collectively we are in a moment where we are really celebrating people’s differences in what they have to say as a form of beauty,” she shares.

A few key habits help Chan to remain present and connected at any given moment. Her self-love practice, which she says ebbs and flows based on where she’s at in her life, typically includes meditation and regular therapy sessions. She first started going to therapy after launching Henning in 2018.

Lauren Chan was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by MESHKI. Earrings provided by New York Vintage.

Lauren Chan was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by MESHKI. Earrings provided by New York Vintage.

“[With therapy] I’ve been able to get to know myself really well and prioritize how I feel and act and that has led to a really great meditation practice,” she says. “I’ve been taking more time out of my life to sit and think about how I’m living and what I’m feeling and therefore what I want to contribute and who I want to be and all that good stuff.”

Chan says therapy has allowed her to know herself better and has equipped her with the tools to discover what she wants to shape her desired future.

“I have learned that therapy, if you can access it, is important and should not be stigmatized and is a measure of self-care that I hope that people don’t see as a weakness,” she states.

“You do not always have to be who you were”

Another theme the model champions is embracing change.

“You do not always have to be who you were,” Chan says. “Who served you before or what served you before might not serve you now, and that’s O.K. to start anew in that respect. You do not have to be what you thought you should be for other people or what someone might have told you you should be. And it is always O.K. to restart.”

Chan, who identifies as gay, says that while it was difficult to have the awareness of her sexuality come into her life during her 30s, is proud and secure in her identity.

“I’m ready to celebrate myself and give myself all the love that I feel I deserve,” she says.

Lauren Chan was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by MESHKI. Earrings provided by New York Vintage.

Lauren Chan was photographed by James Macari in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by MESHKI. Earrings provided by New York Vintage.

She encourages those who feel safe coming out to do so, adding that being who you truly are is incredibly freeing and worthwhile.

“I’m at a place where I really feel a page is turning for me,” Chan says. “I really feel ready to celebrate and I really feel ready to live. And I have done all the hard work and I’m just ready for what’s next.”


Published
Cara O’Bleness

CARA O’BLENESS

Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.