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More is beautiful

Thursday, June 14, 2018
Photograph Courtesy: SHEIN and Forever 21

Women of all shapes and sizes deserve to look fabulous and the plus-size garment industry is finally recognising the fact, says Joanne Pereira

You walk into the store and the salesman sizes you up  when you request to view a couple of garments that catch your eye,  "Yeh aapke size mein nahi banthi," he summarily dismisses you. You walk away, leaving behind the drab, unimaginative attire he prescribes for you, feeling deflated.  

 Tired of those skinny jean brands that exclude you from what's trending, or the big boss, the tailor, who renders your precious fabric into a tent beyond recognition? Brands can’t afford to overlook the huge demand for plus sizes.  The market is out there, be it the young fashionista who knows what she wants and could do with an ounce of style or the senior executive who demands smarter options. 

Plus size options

One of the best compliments to the plus size inclusion comes on the website of SHEIN. With a dedicated listing online for plus sizes ‘All About Curves’, this is a site that walks the talk.  The  models actually display the plus sizes, unlike other websites that have one skinny display for all sizes.  The plus here is, SHEIN’S smart western styling is affordably priced.

Marks & Spencer caters up to size 20 in their regular line, their strength being innerwear.  The brand is a pioneer in providing lingerie in plus sizes, making all the difference to women in India who were strapped for options.  The styling, cut and fit, flatter the figure.  The brand is slanted towards smart casual and formal western wear with a range of pants, shirts and jackets, that work in pleats  to smooth out a paunch or flab, that make you notch the confidence level several degrees up!  Further, they have a range of swimwear that firms up the waist allowing you to swim in style.

The latest to join the fray, MEXX, which now has a prominent physical presence in Vashi,  and  Ajio cater to the larger sizes.  Forever 21’s website prominently announces ‘The right size for you’ when you enter into their Women option,  indicating separate choices  of XS and S, Medium and XL and L on their online site.  Brands like H&M have a drop-down for all sizes for their western clothes line.

Indian Brands

There are tonnes of small-scale options for Indian wear in terms of the salwar kameez, it being an entrepreneurial career choice of many. Newer brands like Vajor provide smart wear in ikat using natural fabric and established outlets of Cottons and  Fab India have made an inroad changing the boring styling prevalent.  Back in the day, brands like Mike Kriplani saw the potential of designing for plus sizes,  giving way to the present day Biba and the quirky Global Desi. 

Innovation in the sari blouse too is another area of promise.  Traditionally the sari blouse has been tailored to custom fit; today these brands give you some limited ready-made options a tip of the huge market out there.

Trent’s retail chain, Westside, provides edgy Indian wear in colours and fabric for smart formal as well as casual wear.  They house brands like Gia that offer tees in sizes to meet the needs of the extra large-sized women.

Why should you settle for frumpy, we ask?  Brands like #thecurvymissy see the potential of bringing fashion to all women—plus size or petite.  They have a point,  “We strongly believe that size should not affect the way you style yourself, that is something that is inherent in you and makes you who you are! We would include all the outfits in our range, as well as specially designed ones to accentuate each body type. Since we don’t have a special line dedicated to plus size women,we take orders. This way the customer can get exactly what they want as these can be customized too!”  Indeed women of all shapes and sizes deserve to look fabulous and moreover feel great about themselves.

aLL for XL exclusively

While there are  L and XL or even XXL options available as part of a larger entity, the brand aLL was created to meet the need perceived. Established in 2005 to solely cater to the plus size niche, aLL filled in the gap be it formal, ethnic, party or casual wear for both sexes.

“aLL: The Plus Size Store has been a pioneer in the plus size fashion industry with a belief that fashion is for everyone and that size is just a number. In our constant endeavour to give our customers the latest in fashion to suit their body type  we collaborated with ace designer Wendell Rodricks,”  says Hetal Kotak, CEO, aLL: The Plus Size Store. No surprise that the brand has spread its presence over 31 cities across India.

Wendell Rodricks, who has redefined classic cuts with his contemporaneous  styling since 1989, was  mandated to breathe life into this  segment.  For Wendell who is associated with ethereal images of sculpted hot bods, this was a line he wanted to explore.  His expertise saw the brand put up a path breaking, cohesive collection for the plus size woman and man. He avers, “Most people are under the false impression that plus simply meansvoluptuous or curvy, but, under this wide umbrella, are various shapes and sizes that need to be addressed like Apple, Pear, Hourglass, Rectangle and Carrot.” At the model auditions itself, the designer insisted on using all figure types to be a part of the PRIMERO Collection for aLL: The Plus Size Store  with ‘Love your curves” appliques to adorn the ramp and rack.

More is beautiful

Seeking to break myths that surround plus size fashion, PRIMERO shatters them with its revolutionising and refreshing take on it.  Flaunt it, ladies, with styles that flatter.

Wendell Rodricks shares with us some of the myths that were shattered while designing the aLL Primero line

What inspired aLL Primero? How has it fared?

aLL Primero approached us via Lakme Fashion Week to do a show for Plus sizes. We jumped at the opportunity as it has always been my intention to dress voluptuous ladies. I have always wanted the fashion industry to be size inclusive. This was too good a chance to pass up. We grabbed it. Too much success fortunately.

What are the limitations in the Plus size market that aLL Primero addresses?

There are no limitations. Just a lot of business potential that has been largely untapped in the Indian market. We broke all the rules in the book for plus sizes. They say no white, no brights, no neutrals for these body types. We thrashed that notion by showing whites, brights and neutrals. Being a Plus Size seems like a disadvantage. We set out to prove that it is so not.

How does your collection seek to redefine the notion of the modern Indian woman?

Indian women have wide hips. With that in place, we celebrate the fact that Indian women’s bodies need to be addressed in a different way. Being wide-hipped is not a disadvantage. It is like being born with blue eyes instead of brown eyes. All one needs to do is to choose colours, layering, sheer effects and silhouettes that flatter.

Please throw light on the international trends and market for plus sizes.

Why should we always look at international trends? As Indians we have a different head space for our sartorial choices. We are unafraid of colour, embroidery, and texture, we have a vast repertoire of garments compared to the West.

We need to look at what India can offer in terms of fashion and celebrate this grand heritage of a living 6000-year-old legacy of Indian clothing culture.

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