For many founders of popular size-inclusive brands, starting a business came out of their own necessity. Before launching Universal Standard in 2015, former fashion journalist Alexandra Waldman says it was difficult to dress the way she wanted to. "To me, [the plus-size market] was always at least a year and a half to two years behind the trend, very indifferently made, [and] the sizing was always all over the place," she tells TZR. However, her label, which focuses on elevated basics, is among other luxe plus-size brands setting out to change the market for the better.
Waldman isn't the only editorial alumni to launch a brand out of a personal need for more elevated size options. Take former fashion editor Lauren Chan, who created New York-based label Henning in 2019. "I built Henning because despite having spent years as a savvy plus-size consumer and as a fashion editor invested in discovering emerging brands, I was never able to find a desirable, luxury brand that made clothes in my size," she tells TZR. "I was showing up to work at places from the Glamour office to the set of the Today Show, to fashion weeks around the world, and all around me, my smaller peers were wearing designer clothing."
Chan believes that despite increased representation on runways and in campaigns, there is still much ground to cover. "Actual clothing offerings in bigger sizes have been slower to come around because of the high cost associated with proper development, production, marketing, and more," the founder adds. "My hope is that they will be increasingly varied — not just the standard middle-of-the-road style and price — from specific product categories to niche aesthetics to higher quality garments."
In addition to new plus-size specific labels, there have also been a number of rising brands that offer a wider range of options than once deemed standard. Some newcomers, such as Coyan and Almost There, offer extended sizing up to 5X. To check out eight luxe plus-size and size-inclusive labels that fashion girls are loving, keep scrolling below. You'll want to have them all on your radar as they are only going to get more popular.
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When Lucas Zunz was running a luxury brand's womenswear eCommerce business in 2017, he kept getting requests for sizes ranging from 16 to 20 US, which it didn't make at the time. "I got really interested in that market and realized there were barely any high-end and modern options above size 12," Zunz, founder of Coyan, tells TZR. "The clean and minimal aesthetic that is very prominent in straight size brands was non-existent and most brands' plus-size categories seemed like an afterthought instead of being embraced as part of their offering and business model," Zunz says. The lack of elevated options in the plus-size market and a true need and desire for better clothes from this category of women who represent over 60% of Americans are what motivated him to create the brand.
It took the New York-based brand over a year to develop the shapes and different patterns, and it was finally able to launch in October 2019. Zunz says the label's vibe can be best described as minimal and understated with a twist. "Our fluid silhouettes are timeless and versatile and can be dressed up or down for all occasions," he explains. "Simplicity and comfort are at the heart of the brand — the focus being mainly on the materials and finishing — 100% silk and handmade in the US." The brand isn't solely plus-size — its offerings range from 0 to 24. Not sure what to try from the brand? Consider its best-selling Dua dress in white.
Founded by Wray Serena in 2015, Wray NYC is a size-inclusive label inspired by fine art. As of late, you've likely seen its cool checkered pieces on the trendiest people you follow on IG. According to the brand’s website, "each season builds on influences from sculpture, painting, and beyond to create clothes which are focused on both form and function." In its quirky-cool product lineup, sizes go from XS to 5XL, with pants ranging from 00 to 24.
Universal Standard's ethos is simple: Make sure each and every size has access to great clothing. In fact, Waldman describes her brand as being size indifferent. "We don't care what size you are," she tells TZR. "It's none of our business how you manage your body." The offerings, which the co-founder says are modern, elevated essentials, are available in sizes 00 to 40. Its most popular category is denim, and Waldman says there are more styles on the way. In addition to jeans, she notes that its outerwear and activewear are both sought after.
"We focus on timeless, well-made pieces that are easy to wear with anything during any season and, above all, will last a lifetime," Chan says about Henning. Additionally, the founder says the Bank Suit, a black double-breasted suit made from Japanese stretch-wool, is the label's best-seller (it even sold out three times!). If you haven't been able to get your hands on it, you're in luck, because there are still a few sizes in stock.
Zelie for She
Elann Zelie founded her Los Angeles-based label Zelie for She after noticing a lack of fashion and storytelling in the plus-size space. "I needed and wanted to fill that void," she tells TZR. "I went to design school and learned how to make my own patterns and sew." The founder put her skills to use and created her label in 2013. Currently, the collection features velvet robes and slips, as well as shiny party dresses.
Zelie believes there is a lack of plus-size designers due to visibility. "I hope that with my brand in Nordstrom, this will help other plus-size designers with getting the recognition, funding, and visibility they deserve." Don't sleep on the pieces — Zelie for She’s website notes that all designs are made in a limited run (making them ever so special).
The Hour London
Founder Nana Rasoeva never imagined launching a clothing brand. "I studied medicine and started out as an Ob-Gyn doctor," she tells TZR. But, after she went up a couple of dress sizes, Rasoeva couldn't find the same kind of quality and well-cut clothing she was wearing before. "The lightbulb moment came when I was preparing for a summer holiday in Italy, ordering clothes online," the founder explains. "When they arrived, I was disappointed with the quality, fit, and fabric, everything. I wanted well-fitting clothes in natural fabrics that were cool and a pleasure to wear. Was I asking for the impossible? It seemed so." After her holidays, she signed up for a fashion design course at the London College of Fashion and followed it with intensive pattern making to learn the necessary skills. Upon completing the course, Rasoeva launched The Hour London in 2018.
Rasoeva says the brand's strength is its attention to impeccable details, such as sleeve silhouettes or practical pockets on dresses. Additionally, she notes that precise tailoring and creating balance in overall looks makes The Hour modern and versatile. Rasoeva adds that her brand is obsessed with creating well-fitted trousers. "Many fittings for different body shapes and testing go into [the] development of each style until we are satisfied with the quality and fit," Rasoeva says. Adding that the popular tuxedo trouser can be dressed up for any occasion or worn simply with a white cotton shirt and trainers. As for other best-sellers, look to the Sequin Opera Jacket and the Tweed Effect Jacket.
Patricia Luiza Blaj started feeling frustrated with the clothing available in her XL size and knew something needed to change. "I was working in the fashion industry as a writer and content creator at that time and my frustration was exacerbated by the fact that very few paid campaigns came my way. I was the token fat girl ticking dishonest diversity boxes," the founder of Loud Bodies tells TZR. She was very unhappy with the box the fashion industry kept limiting her to, so she decided it was time to break out of it. "Loud Bodies is my love letter to every person who’s ever been made to feel less than, unworthy, or not good enough by the fashion industry and our society," Blaj explains. "It’s something I put all my love, sweat, and occasionally tears in, with the purpose of making our clients feel beautiful, making them feel loved and respected by the clothes they wear."
Blaj says Loud Bodies' offerings are romantic, unapologetic, and clothes that enable you to claim the space that you rightfully deserve. Loud Bodies has a wide range of sizes, with most of its pieces available in XXS to 10XL.
Launched by Celine Kabaker, Almost There is a size-inclusive brand that merges together sustainability and style to create affordable pieces. Its approach to environmentally friendly fashion includes using deadstock and natural fabrics, made-to-order items, and producing pieces in its family-owned Los Angeles factory. Its dress selection, which includes everything from cute mini to flow maxi styles, is available in sizes XS to 5X.
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