Shay Zanco Is the Israeli Model Changing the Shape of the Industry

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Shay Zanco is one of plus-size fashion’s fastest rising stars. The 20-year-old Israeli model, who has over 180,000 Instagram followers and lives between Tel Aviv and London, has appeared in advertisements and campaigns for FarFetch and Asos; when we speak, she is just off the phone with her agents in New York about yet another contract.

All of this is a far cry from her childhood in Tel Aviv. Growing up, Zanco couldn’t find clothing that fit her in typical department stores, so she began thrifting and reselling plus-sized pieces, effectively launching her own small business. “I would resell things to my friends or [through word-of-mouth], just because there is no actual market here for people like that,” she says.

While she had always been interested in fashion, it wasn’t until her mother encouraged her to go to an open casting call that she considered modeling. “I went and there were about 600 girls there. I was there for about four hours; I never thought I was going to get in,” she says. A day later, however, she got a call from an agent who immediately signed her.

Zanco’s first big break came when she did a shoot for the label Sherris, and an image of her in a two-piece swimsuit ended up on She was inundated with calls and messages: “My mom started calling me nonstop. I answered and she’s screaming, ‘You’re in Vogue!’” Then working as a waitress at her aunt’s sushi restaurant, she had around 300 missed calls when she clocked out. Two weeks later, she moved to London to focus solely on her modeling career.

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