Strolling through the three halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center at this year’s MAGIC convention, one might think that styles abound for all consumers.
But three panelists at Monday’s seminar on “Inclusivity in Fashion” got their start when they grew increasingly frustrated with how few options existed for them.
“In 2012, I realized that I wasn’t seeing anyone who looked like me in fashion,” says Rachel Richardson, owner of fashion blog Lovely in LA. “I started posting photos showing that you can be stylish regardless of size.”
Richardson joined Sonia Lovett, a fashion influencer for women over 50, and Rob Smith, who owns a genderless clothing boutique, to discuss the ways they’d like the fashion industry to change how it designs, produces and markets clothes.
For the three panelists, the fashion industry offers precious little for people who wear plus sizes, or for older, stylish women, or for people who don’t feel comfortable wearing clothing designed exclusively for men or women.
Two years ago, Sonia Lovett’s daughter encouraged her to start a fashion blog.
“Women were saying they didn’t feel heard, nothing on Instagram was speaking to them,” says the 67-year-old. Women her age feel left out when trying to shop for stylish clothes, and for businesses, that mistake is costly.
“Women 50 and over have a lifetime of savings and are starting to spend,” she says. “To ignore women who say ‘I want cool stuff or sexy lingerie or to stay on trend,’ is to miss out on a wealthy demographic.”
Richardson faces a similar problem when shopping. Most plus-size garments come in unattractive prints or cover her up rather than show off her body, she says. “A lot of times, plus is one category. So your 19-year-old cousin and your 50-year-old aunt are shopping in the same section,” she says. “I want to see the same pieces in plus sizes that are available in straight sizes.”
Women’s wholesale clothing brand Hayden Los Angeles is one of the few brands that carry identical styles in plus sizes. Sales manager Nick Yeum pointed out two blue, tie-dyed tops with high side hems, identical except one is a small and the other is 1X.
The brand carries its most popular styles in regular and plus sizes, Yeum says. “Plus customers want to be fashionable and not always (wear) tunics and looser styles. So we have the exact same one, but in plus (sizes).”
The brand also carries black, sleeveless dresses and rose-gold sequin miniskirts in a full range of sizes for women of all shapes.
After 30 years holding executive roles in retail, Rob Smith left the business to pursue his own concept: The Phluid Project. He opened a brick-and-mortar store in New York where inventory is displayed without a designated men’s or women’s section.
“I started looking at how binary this world is,” says Smith. “ I was looking for this space that might go fluid. Gender-free is for queer folks or trans folks or customers who want to shop at a brand that is more purpose-driven.”
The Phluid Project, named with a “ph” for balance, carries graphic t-shirts with statements, denim, tops and outerwear that can be worn by anyone across the gender spectrum.
Women’s footwear brand Seychelles debuted at MAGIC a slice of its upcoming spring collection, Seychelles for All. The assortment includes a unisex all-leather slide with a comfortable footbed and a variety of colors and textures across the strap, and a unisex sneaker in seven pastel suede and leather colors.
“We saw that men were wearing some of our booties and realized that we didn’t have extended sizing for larger shoe sizes,” says Mara Bartholomew, digital marketing manager for Seychelles. “We decided to do this collection because … our customers want more options.”
Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournalcom. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.