Candice Huffine opens the door to her Brooklyn penthouse, offering a hug and a plate full of doughnuts.
She’s straight off a panel discussion on the future of fashion with Instagram’s Eva Chen and fashion advertising exec Trey Laird, but you wouldn’t know that from her enthusiastic welcome. She’s dressed in a full look from Prabal Gurung’s fall 2017 show, including the T-shirt she wore on that runway, which reads “Our minds, our bodies, our power.”
Inside, her apartment is the perfect mix of Brooklyn quirkiness and high fashion—not unlike Huffine herself—with chairs from Restoration Hardware, framed fortune-cookie messages, and a sign that says “Your butt looks good today.”
We take a moment to look at the view from her patio: We’re practically on top of the East River, and there among the clouds is the New York City skyline. If this were my home, I wouldn’t leave half as much as Huffine does. But then‚ I’m not quite as in-demand. We grab a couple of umbrellas and head outside to wander around Williamsburg, where Huffine has lived for around two years with her husband and their dog, Jerry. She jokes that they retired to Brooklyn, since they moved from First Avenue and 37th Street in Manhattan. “The city’s too crazy busy,” she says. The irony is not lost on her that she, too, is crazy busy.
Prior to this shoot, she had been in Los Angeles for the better part of the month, helping plus-size fashion brand Torrid with their model search, promoting Adidas events, and shooting for upcoming campaigns. She touched down in New York just in time for Fashion Week. “I don’t know what I’ll be doing, but I know it’ll be hectic,” she says. “In this career, you spend a lot of your life not knowing anything, and you definitely have to adopt a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude and realize there are things you can’t plan for.” A tough adjustment for the self-titled control freak, but one that she has now happily adopted.
“I remember one time my husband, Matt, and I left my parents’ house, stopped and ate breakfast, and just decided we wanted to go to the Caribbean the next day. I was eating bacon and was like, ‘Turks and Caicos for two tomorrow? Sign me up.’’”
That’s Huffine for you—all in. Starting her career on a plus-size modeling contract meant that her work opportunities were largely in Europe at that time. With a family less inclined to leave their hometown in Bowie, Maryland, the 15-year-old had to navigate her work travels solo. “I signed the contract and the next day was on a plane to Germany,” she recalls. She scored a major campaign with Lane Bryant in 2010, and from there has appeared in everything from the Pirelli Calendar (where she was the first size-12 woman to be featured) to multiple appearances in Vogue to the covers of Elle and Vogue Italia. Not bad for a girl who was once told that she couldn’t be a model unless she lost 20 pounds.
The number of destinations she’s visited since she started her career is a laundry list of dream destinations: “Cape Town, like, once a month for years, Italy, Germany a ton, London, Paris, Rome, and all over South America.” At some point I have to stop her: You get the feeling that this girl has been everywhere twice. She’s traveled all over the globe for work, but lately has been prioritizing personal travel. “There’s just something about going to a baseball game with your best friend as opposed to by yourself,” she says. A lot of times that means tacking on extra time to the beginning or end of work trips, and inviting a friend to tag along.
One of her favorite non-work trips was her honeymoon in Hawaii, where instead of being “poolside with colorful cocktails and umbrella straws, like, ‘Oh I’m so fabulous and I’m so chic and decadent’” (which, full disclosure, she had actually planned to do), she went hiking and cliff-jumping, even sleeping in treehouses for a portion of the trip. That’s when her outlook on vacations changed. “That’s not how I saw my honeymoon turning out but it was definitely way more fun. You can sit and read a travel guide on what you should do, or you can just do it,” she says. “People talk themselves out of going on adventures, like, ‘Oh that’s too difficult,’ or ‘Oh, I could never do that.’ Just go do it!”
It’s not a surprising attitude for someone who’s on a mission to fundamentally change the fashion industry—and other industries along the way. After 17 years in front of the camera, Huffine is going behind the scenes. She just launched a collaboration with Fortnight Lingerie that boasts an impressive range of waistlines and cup sizes not generally offered by lingerie companies. She’s also on the verge of launching a new activewear line, Day Won. The Instagram bio summarizes the ethos: “Activewear. Who are we kidding? Everything wear.”
In fact, Huffine may be (extremely) well known as a model, but lately she feels most at home in the fitness community—though that wasn’t always the case. She started running just over a year ago, after her husband challenged her to make it her New Year’s resolution. “I was like, ‘You sound crazy right now,’ but something stuck and it has honestly changed my life,” she says. “Now I get recognized more as a runner than as a model.”
Huffine marvels at that, mostly because the running community wasn’t always open to all shapes and sizes, which initially turned her off. She still feels “like a scared newbie,” but when people approach her to say that they aren’t scared to run in a sports bra anymore, or that they started running because they saw that you didn’t have to be a sub-seven-minute miler to do it, she feels like she’s helping people overcome the stigmas associated with running.
“There was a bit of a divide in the running community, similar to the fashion industry, but the lines are blurring in both,” Huffine says. “It has become far more inclusive in the kinds of athletes and women that get highlighted, which I think is super important—just as it has been with fashion.”
She’s appeared on the cover of Women’s Running, has participated in initiatives like Reebok’s #perfectnever campaign, and has even started her own community of women supporting one another’s fitness journeys—an Instagram initiative and movement entitled Project Start. “You look at these perfect bodies crushing yoga poses and winning races with six-pack abs and then feel like, ‘Oh, great, is that a community I fit into?’ Where’s the other side of that?” she asks. “I know from experience that there are so many different kinds of women who are incredible athletes, and I just felt like it was time to shed light on that. I want everyone to feel inspired and able to do what they dream.” For Huffine, that was running the Boston Marathon— her first ever—and the New York City half-marathon last year. In addition to walking for NYFW, she’ll be running the NYC Marathon this fall.
Back in her Brooklyn apartment, she’s also running around chasing Jerry. Huffine may be the model, but he’s definitely the diva. We hug goodbye and, on my way out, I see a note that she’s left on her typewriter: “Away we go, but we’re here now.” No doubt, the secret to her success.