Why we made the jump from plus-size to size-inclusive
When I launched Alice Alexander I was firm that we were a “plus-size brand” focusing on sizes 12-28. And frankly I created this company out of a place of real frustration. I was frustrated and fed up and felt like the fashion industry was perfectly content to ignore bodies like mine.
As I began to do popup markets and started getting the word out about the brand I started having some really in depth conversations with a variety of women interested in my designs. So many women that I talked to, regardless of their size, have clothing issues. Gaping button down tops, pants that fit in the hip but gape in the waist, arms that were too tight but fit everywhere else, crappy fabric, boring designs, cheap clothes, over-priced designer clothes, the list went on and on. Not a single woman I talked to was in the least bit thrilled with the clothing industry overall. The common theme I kept hearing from women was that it didn’t feel as though clothing companies were actually listening to their customer.
I kept talking to women and noticed another eye-opener. Even though I felt as though I had personally arrived on my journey towards body-positivity, many women simply weren’t there yet. And although many of these women were “technically” plus-size (sizes 12, 14, 16) they didn’t identify as plus-size. In fact, I was one of those women. For much of my life I wore a size 12/14/16 and stuck to brands like J Crew and Banana Republic to meet my needs. When I had a daughter and gained weight and couldn’t seem to lose it I officially went from a size 16 to a size 18 and I had an incredibly difficult time embracing the term plus-size. It took a lot of soul searching, a lot of body positive inspiration and frankly learning to sew, that I really changed my outlook on my body. All of this is to say, that if my customer didn't identify as plus-size, she was never going to find my store.
And lastly, a lot of “straight size” women really liked my aesthetic and my commitment to ethical manufacturing and were super disappointed that I didn’t carry their size. And although smaller sized women have a myriad of shopping options it still stung a little everytime I turned away a woman smaller than a size 12. And being a woman of size, I know this sting all too well.
Saying things like“real women have curves” is dismissive and hurtful. Saying thin women look like little girls is just plain ol’ mean. I now know that anyone who identifies as a woman, is a woman. Regardless of their size or shape. Full stop. That feeling that I had of being left out by the fashion community, of being ignored, of being reduced to nothing more than my size, I was reinforcing that same message in my own brand.
That’s why I decided to make the jump from plus-size to size-inclusive. Is this a massive financial investment for my company? Of course! I now have two sets of patterns for each design, a set for 0-10 and a set for 12-28. I now need two fit models, and maybe even three to really get a good fit on a variety of bodies. I need to double the number of sizing tags to be sewn into garments. I need to recruit and hire models who have a variety of body shapes. I need to sew photoshoot model samples in 5 different sizes (instead of the standard size 14/16). And the list goes on and on. And keeping in mind that I am an incredibly small (albeit with big dreams) company with a super-small (although crazy talented) team, I have still decided to make this investment. Why? Because I honestly believe from the bottom of my heart that the future of fashion is without barriers. That we will stop trying to divide women into tribes that work against one another. That all women regardless of their size can wear the same garment, can care about the same values and can invest in the same pieces. I believe that diversity and inclusion is the only way forward for the fashion industry and I know that my brand needs to be an active part of this conversation and helping to lead the way.
So now when I talk about my company and I say we are size-inclusive, I mean that. Our size chart fits women from sizes 0-28, and if our size chart doesn’t work for your body that’s on us, not on you. And we will personally make something just for you, at no additional cost. Because its just the right thing to do.
Now the women who support Alice Alexander and the things we stand for, like ethical production and a focus on bright color, bold patterns and a nod towards sustainability can rally around these things, the important things, instead of thinking about the size label in their pants. This is about inclusivity and that means ALL WOMEN, ALL SIZES are welcome at my table.
I am so excited for this next chapter in our growth.
All my love,