Rachel Roy Gives Plus-Size Women What We Want: The Exact Same Thing As Straight-Size Women

Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rachel Roy.
In 2015, plus-sized fashion had a banner year. And just two weeks in, 2016 is off to a progressive start: First, Forever 21 launched its first plus activewear line, and now celeb-favorite Rachel Roy is expanding the size range of her wallet-friendly Rachel Rachel Roy line, the designer exclusively confirmed with Refinery29. And you’ve only got one month to make room in your wardrobe for all the goods.

Launching in select Macy’s stores the second week of February, and on Macys.com and RachelRoy.com later that month, the size 14 to 24 collection is filled with the same bold colors, prints, and silhouettes we’ve come to expect from the Rachel Rachel Roy line. Unlike other brands that dumb down plus-size designs, Roy is actually giving size 14+ women what they have been asking for all along: the exact same things women under size 14 get. With that in mind, the label kept its designs across the board, only adding slight alterations throughout. (E.g., a jumpsuit from the line maintains the original silhouette, but has straps, rather than being strapless.) Plus, everything rings in at $179 or less.

We sat down with Roy and her senior vice president of marketing, Amy Rapawy, to get the 411 on her new “curvy” collection. Ahead, the designer opens up about this major step for her brand.
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Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rachel Roy.
Why did you finally decide to offer a plus-size collection?

Rachel Roy:
"My customers have actually been asking me for years for plus-size, which we like to call 'curvy.' I think [the term] is just more modern and doesn’t sound as old-school. We wanted to do it for a long time and now just made sense.

"It’s not that it’s any different [than the regular line], it’s just that we got the fit right. And as soon as I could pull together the correct team to do that, we did it. I believe an in-house team has to work with it, hands on it, try it on, and ask questions until everyone's comfortable. I mean, we have the designs, that’s not a problem. It’s just getting the correct fit, so it’s what people want to wear."
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Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rachel Roy.
What makes your collection different than what’s available on the market right now for plus-size women?

RR:
"Well, I think that there’s a lack in general for larger-sized women to be able to look and feel the way they want. When I was pregnant, I experienced that; you just want to be able to get dressed, look smart, feel sexy, and go on with your day. And the effort that is needed to do that, I felt was effort spent in the wrong way. I’d rather put that effort towards my children, towards my work, towards myself in different areas; you don’t want to have to try that hard to get dressed. So I just think that there’s a lack of options. And I don’t know why there’s a lack, but there is."
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Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rachel Roy.
Do you plan to expand your size range to all of your designs? Currently the curvy options are only available in a portion of your designs.

RR:
"I don’t think every single piece needs to go; it’s kind of like shopping, right? When you're shopping, whether online or in store, you pick and choose what works best for you. And I do feel that I would love to give as many options as possible, but in order to do things right, I would like to start out small and really capture my customers’ confidence and how it fits and makes her feel. Once I have that down and there is a nice ebb and flow to it, then extending would be the right choice. To really make an impact, I want to do it right, and then if the pieces make sense, absolutely."
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Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rachel Roy.
You yourself are not plus-sized. Did you work with a plus-size consultant or is anyone on your team plus-sized that was able to help with fit, design, or what they thought might work best for that market?

RR:
"Oh yeah, of course. We definitely did bring in a consultant, which was so helpful. But one thing I’ve always done in the past 15 years is that I like my fit models to be vocal and I expect them to be part of the team the same way a seamstress or pattern maker is. And I really do rely on that partnership with them.

"I try everything on; everything in all of the collections I work on, in my size, or in a size up or a size down. You can still get a taste for what’s going right or wrong. I rely heavily on asking questions and then trying to solve them in a manner that I would want them to be solved for myself. "
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Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rachel Roy.
How would describe the woman you’re designing for? Who is Rachel Rachel Roy customer?

RR:
"The Rachel Rachel Roy woman is curious and adventurous; she has a career, so she has the need to look professional, pulled-together, and polished. She’s the younger sister to Rachel Roy, so the price point is lower and more affordable. But who the customer is really the same throughout, despite the category."
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Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Rachel Roy.
So many other high-end designers, like Calvin Klein and Michael Kors, also offer a plus-size line, but they make no effort to advertise that they do so. What are your plans to advertise your size expansion?

RR:
"Really, that’s very interesting, I didn’t know that. Well, we shot with the gorgeous Candice Huffine..."

Amy Rapawy:
"We shot with Candice, as you know, and everything we do will have the curvy mixed into it. Other brands hide the curvy girls on their social channels. We won’t. It will be mixed in with our regular content. We’re all like-minded in the fact that we love fashion; our bodies are different, not our mindset. Good content is good content and it doesn’t matter what size is in that."
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