Meet The Gal Bringing Indie Labels To The Plus-Size Girl

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Edith-Dohmen-HRPhoto: Courtesy of Madison Plus Select
Trust: Even the most fearless, knock-you-over-on-a-Black-Friday shopper type gets exhausted by plus-size shopping. We're often faced with two scenarios: Either you love the design but the clothes don’t fit, or you find something that “fits” (if baggy or boxy is your style) but looks like it was made for your grandma's couch.

Thankfully, Madison Plus Select has come along to squash the shopping woes for all the curvy girls out there. With R29 faves like the hottest new swimwear designed by Robyn Lawley, to the out-of-this-world designs from Cult of California, every item on Madison Plus Select is expertly curated by the founder and CEO, Aimee Cheshire.

Forget those big-name brands that you’ve already exhausted in your full-figure fashion quest, Cheshire specializes in stocking the indie designers you may not even know you love yet, offered at a variety of price points. And because we wanted to find out more, we sat down with Cheshire to get schooled on how her website is simply leaving all others in the dust.

What made you decide to create Madison Plus and then Madison Plus Select?
"Madison Plus was created out of my personal obsession and career in the fashion industry. I spent many hours looking for a website that addressed my personal style needs and frequently came up empty. Madison Plus started out as a general plus-size fashion blog with a focus on plus models and 'outfits of the day.' The site quickly evolved into more as my focus changed to mainstream fashion trends and how to best apply that in the plus world. It also allowed me to share my knowledge of product development and how items are produced for the plus-size market. With time, I began to support the blog with affiliate sales, but I soon found that I was pushing people away from the site and I was unable to fully promote product I loved. From that realization Madison Plus Select was born.

"The majority of women nationwide are plus-sized, yet largely ignored and have limited shopping options. Madison Plus Select is laser-focused on providing new shopping opportunities in the form of indie designers and emerging brands that develop clothing specifically for their figure. Plus fashion up until Madison Plus Select did not have the same opportunities for exposure as mainstream designers/brands and frequently lacked a fashion-forward approach to presentation.

"Our recent partnership with Robyn Lawley is a perfect example of this; Robyn Lawley is a household name that transcends the plus world. We are so proud that she chose to work with Madison Plus Select as the exclusive partner to launch her stunning swimsuit collection. She saw an opportunity to use our platform and we are both thrilled with the results."

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17-Sundays-HRPhoto: Courtesy of Madison Plus Select
What is the difference between the two sites?
"The initial goal of having two distinct sites was to keep the integrity/objectivity of the editorial components of Madison Plus while having Madison Plus Select focus on selling product. We quickly discovered how eager our audience was to shop designers that created exclusively for them, like Cabiria, Stefanie Bezaire, and Edith Dohmen. In response to the demand, we increased our focus on developing Madison Plus Select. As we continue to build this brand we will integrate the rich content that initially caught our readers’ attention.

"Our customers trust our opinion, point of view, and knowledge. We are proud of this distinction and look forward continuing on this path."

What do you look for when you're choosing designers for the site?
"My overall focus is on wearability and usage. While those two terms may not sound overly exotic or sexy, I don’t believe the plus industry is ready yet for too much 'avant-garde.' Women trust that I will merchandise Madison Plus Select in a way that features clothes that will easily fit into their lifestyle. I am asking them to spend somewhat more than what they are used to (due to the budget nature of plus-size shopping) — so I want them to know that I appreciate that, and these items will incorporate perfectly into their wardrobe and that they will get good, long term value.

"The well-known plus-size brands have had to be everything to everyone, and that is close to an impossible task for any brand. I have a strong sense of the Madison Plus persona — and there are three that we focus on. Over the years, we've gained the experience and done research to better understand plus-size women. It is my personal mission to develop the plus-size industry and encourage plus women to feel deserving of shopping. For so long, they have been underserved. With Madison Plus Select I provide the elevated shopping experience that the mainstream fashion industry has mastered. Women beyond a size 14 can now live in the moment, shop, and invest in their current size."

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Aimee-Cheshire-HeadshotPhoto: Courtesy of Madison Plus Select

What do you think of the current plus-size market?
"The plus-size market is in its infancy, when compared to what has been done for the straight-size market. The options for growth are endless. The plus category is still being defined due to the mixed opinions of what is exactly 'plus.' We are currently going through a growth stage due to the increase in plus women in the population. Celebrities are also a big driver of this movement, as Hollywood and the music industry recognize these women for their talents, not just their size.

"This acceptance is in the process of becoming more mainstream, but that doesn't mean there aren’t huge gaps in the market. The most developed portion of the plus-size market is urban oriented and does not cater to the professional fashion-forward woman. The mainstream fashion industry is still very hesitant to get involved due to concerns about tarnishing their brand. Sadly, at first glance I see their concerns. Thankfully their lack of follow through and commitment to understanding this industry has been my gain. Until they realize that there is, in fact, room for everyone, I am happy to take advantage of this — especially because the combined buying power of the plus-size market is likely a multiple of traditional straight sizes."

Have you thought about designing your own line?
"Yes, of course! I love to create and I have a strong understanding of what actually sells, and on top of that, no shortage of hard data telling us what the plus-size market wants."

What can we expect in the future from Madison Plus Select?
"We will continue to leverage our status as a launchpad for new plus-size designers and emerging brands to allow them to have an opportunity to break into the space. We look forward to more exciting collaborations with mainstream designers, models, and celebrities. I am confident that Madison Plus Select will soon be seen as a driving force in reshaping the fashion industry as a whole simply because we give the market options that they want today."