Rewriting The Rules: The Brands That Changed Plus-Size Fashion In 2017

2017 was a groundbreaking year for plus-size fashion. Unless you hit the snooze button for all of September, it was hard to miss the headlines about plus-size models walking for household names like Michael Kors and Anna Sui, as well as labels that have adopted inclusivity for a while now, like Christian Siriano and Chromat. Beyond the runways, Victoria Beckham’s sold-out Target collection was available in sizes 0 to 24 (all of which were, for the first time, sold in stores), and Project Runway finally got on the inclusion bandwagon, moving from the “Real Woman” challenge to hiring plus-size models for the full season.

The same was reflected in real life: Britney Young played Carmen Wade on GLOW, Chrissy Metz continued playing Kate Pearson on This Is Us, and the podcast She’s All Fat saw a meteoric rise in listeners and fans. Model Paloma Elsesser starred in Glossier’s “Body Hero” campaign, as well as in Fenty Beauty and Pat McGrath ads, and topped it her stellar year off by telling the world: “Fat is not an insult.”

We also saw more plus-size brands launch in 2017 than any other year, bringing inclusive fashion and, more importantly, choices to plus-size women. The four we spotlight ahead, all of which were founded in 2017, ignore outdated and restrictive rules about what plus-size people “should” wear, and acknowledge and incorporate the body politics that come with their customers into their clothes. They’re unapologetically putting fashion first, and leading the way to show that fashion can — and should be — truly for every body.

Premme
Launched in June by Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason, OG fashion bloggers-turned-influencers, the response to Premme’s premiere offering was so intense the website crashed almost immediately after going live. Tired of the stuffy and matronly clothes that rehashed trends seen in straight-sizing six months prior, the plus-size community was ready for Premme. And since its launch, it's become known for its fashion-forward aesthetic and its choice to work in a streetwear-inspired “drop” schedule as opposed to offering seasonal collections.

Particularly game-changing is Premme’s emphasis on inclusivity, as the brand launched going up to a US size 30. “We launched with a size range that was unheard of for a startup brand,” says Mason. “Our smallest model is a size 16, even though [our clothes] start at a 12. That’s a big shift from a lot of other plus-size brands, [that are] shooting on a size 10 or 12 model.”

For Premme, the goal has always been to be fashion-forward. Instead of focusing on the shapes and silhouettes that conservative, mainstream fashion deems suitable for curvy women, Mason and Gregg are creating pieces that are simply cool, and not “cool for plus-size.” Fuck flattering!” says Mason. “Our body types can wear stuff that isn’t flattering.” She cites the creation of the mesh dress, one of their most popular items, which was created “because plus-size bodies deserve to be seen and take up space.”
Premme Celeste Star Dress, $89.00 Buy
See Rose Go
After hearing from frustrated plus-size friends and family members, Erin Cavanaugh and Yi Zhou launched See Rose Go. With major industry experience under their belts, Cavanaugh and Zhou, who previously held jobs at Nike and Converse, decided to create a collection of clothes that offered crisp and tailored clothing to this often-forgotten demographic.

“We are constantly talking with our customers about clothing, asking what they’re looking for, [and] what they dream about,” says Cavanaugh. “Overwhelmingly, we heard complaints and issues with quality. Plus-size shoppers want pieces that are going to last more than one season, and have quality fit and construction.” Working to answer these specific issues, they launched with six classic pieces that aim to lay a foundation for a whole wardrobe: a legging, a high-waist track pant, a tunic shirt, a kimono cardigan, a layering vest, and a statement coat. The collection is available in sizes 14 to 24, in a neutral palette of white, black, and burgundy. Their minimal and sportswear-influenced clothes are modern, but also appeal to a wide variety of tastes.
See Rose Go High-waist Track Pant, $128.00 Buy
Plus Bklyn
Launched in May, Plus Bklyn, a plus-size boutique in Brooklyn, has quickly gained a loyal following. “There are no boutique options if you’re a plus-size woman in the NYC-area,” says founder, Alexis Krase. “New York City is one of the fashion capitals of the world, and before we launched plus-size shoppers could only shop big box stores. That’s nuts!” Walking into the store is almost like walking into a plus-size version of Willy Wonka — complete with ice cream sandwich necklaces and pizza earrings.

The fact that customers could now come in and try on the clothes they liked — a shopping mainstay that most straight-sized customers take for granted — became an absolute game-changer to shoppers that rarely find themselves represented on the retail floor, as many stores that carry plus sizes, tend to make their offerings online-only. “Being able to try on pieces in person, and venture outside of one’s comfort zone, is critical for plus-size fashion,” says Krase. “When your only option is to buy online, you tend to ‘play it safe.’ I don’t want customers to play it safe, I want them to play with fashion.”

Still, Krase has struggled with being able to be truly inclusive in her merchandise selection, since many brands still don’t go past a size 24. “I’m a size 24/26,” says Krase, “and I’ve been in the place where I’m either at the ceiling of what a brand offers or I’m sized out of it. We’ve gotten bullish with more than a few suppliers, because women who are a size 26, 28, 30, and beyond want and deserve options as well!”

Next year, Krase plans on launching an in-house label. “I’m designing a line of dresses in bold colors and zany patterns, that go up to a size 30,” says Krase. “I’ve been that woman who goes to the plus-size section at a store and doesn't fit in their clothes, and that feels so crappy. It’s really important to foster an environment that is inclusive, and it’s a constant effort that we’ll continue in 2018.”
Plus BKLYN Back to Black Dress, $46.99 Buy
11 Honoré
11 Honoré, a Moda Operandi-meets-Farfetch online retail destination for plus-size luxury wear, launched in late August. From the beginning, founders Patrick Hernin and Kathryn Retzer, faced an uphill battle, dealing with preconceived notions about the plus-size community from investors and industry professionals. Like the ones that say that plus-size women don’t buy luxury clothes. “Of course plus-size women want to buy clothes, but you can’t buy something if it doesn’t exist!” says Ritzer.

The site launched with about a dozen designers, and that number has since doubled. There is truly something here for every taste and aesthetic, with offerings by such diverse labels like Zero + Maria Cornejo, Baja East, Prabal Gurung, and La Ligne.

What makes 11 Honoré different from other “e-shops” is the fact that they connect brands with industry professionals who understand the fitting and construction needs of plus-size women — a skill set in short supply. “We really partner with brands to help them enter the market,” says Herning. “Some brands like Zac Posen already have it figured out, but other brands need help at various stages of the process. We meet brands every step of the way to help them connect with the plus-size customer who wants their pieces.”

Currently, shoppers can find clothes up to a US size 20, but the site is committed to expanding its range in the near future. “We’re asking designers to double their size offering,” says Retzer. “We started with 10-20, and our goal is to keep going to a size 22 and beyond. It’s important that we walk instead of run to make sure the fit is impeccable.”
Adam Lippes Longsleeve V Neck Pima Cotton T Shirt, $105.00 $31.50, Buy
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