A WIN for Australian plus-size Designers

Finally I can spill the beans, I’ve been working hard and holding onto a secret for so long. But today I can share with you that three deserving Australian plus-size designer brands are available online at Autograph!

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H&H on Autograph ADD on Autograph

You may be asking yourself why is this such major news? Let me tell you.

In March 2015 I began a Wholesale Agency, United Curves specialising in Labels that cater to the size 12-26+ market.  My passion has always been in supporting the Australian plus-size designer Labels, and what better way to do that than to work with them on expanding the opportunities in our local market here in Australia, and beyond. Word spread quickly about United Curves, and before I could blink the telephone was ringing and enquiries were coming in thick and fast. It was such a surprise to receive an enquiry via the Hope & Harvest Website from Autograph who were enquiring about the H&H range for an upcoming project they were working on.  I picked up the phone and called Justine, who is managing the project.  She explained that she had been tasked with launching a “Brand Store” on the Autograph website to offer more choice for the Autograph customer.  Justine invited me to visit with her in Sydney and bring some samples of the Hope & Harvest collection with me.  Justine asked if I could recommend any other brands, and when I explained that I also represented other plus-size Australian designers, she encouraged me to bring samples from all the Labels.

There was a great effort from the brands to provide me with the sales tools I needed for this important meeting. I boarded a flight to Sydney with two suitcases of samples and landed on the doorstep of Specialty Fashion Group.

Our meeting began at 10am on a sunny Sydney day, and I was greeted by Justine – a gorgeous woman with an amazing smile. I was ushered into the meeting room where it was immediately clear that a lot of work and research had gone into this moment. Justine was so passionate about plus-size clothing and so very excited to be leading the Brand Store Project.

During my years of working in the plus-size Industry I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in a lot of offices and boardrooms talking with major retailers about what’s missing for the curvy consumer. I’ve often felt that my well researched and qualified opinions and suggestions have fallen on deaf ears, and that there is always an excuse for why something can’t change or can’t be done. I’ve felt that there is a disconnect with major retailers and the customers, not understanding their wants and needs.  With you, my loyal readers help, I’ve collected data, comments and images to back up my opinions and suggestions – this has helped immensely – thank you! I am so familiar with the same old responses that I was taken aback when I discovered the meeting room I was sitting in was covered in survey data and comments from a very well thought out survey that was sent to all Autograph customers a few months before.

Out of the data that they collected,  one of the key points was that the Autograph customer was looking for more choice and styles than sits within the usual offering from Autograph. The data also gave the team a broader understanding of their customer and her needs and wants.  The survey is a credit to the Marketing team who compiled the questions, I read through the survey when it landed in my inbox and remember being impressed that finally here was a survey that was serious about understanding the customer.

The meeting that day went until 5pm! I had the pleasure of meeting the team of people behind the scenes that make things tick, from the buyers to the marketing team, brand manager and so much more.  The work we all did that day was historical as it opened up an opportunity that has previously been out of reach for the smaller independent labels.

(L-R) Justine, Vanessa (Sonsee), Alexa, Lisa Lunch with the Autograph Team during one of our visits to Sydney

The initial opportunity to stock Sonsee Woman in Autograph happened quickly. First with the Hosiery range, and shortly thereafter with the incredible Seamless Intimates Range.  The Autograph customer was thrilled with the Sonsee range and we will shortly be launching a premium active wear range by Sonsee Active available with the accurate Sonsee fit for sizes 14-28.

Sonsee on Autograph

The opportunity for the other brands has taken a little longer to negotiate. In fact it’s taken just on 12 months of negotiating & planning the deal. It’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs and a huge learning curve for myself and brands to position ourselves to meet the needs of a large retailer.

I’m so proud and thrilled to share that today the amazing Australian plus-size designer brands Hope & Harvest and Alison Dominy Designs also went live on the Autograph Brand Store. We are all so proud and happy to be part of this opportunity and want to thank the team at Autograph who made it possible sincerely for their efforts.  I want to thank Justine who has worked tirelessly and passionately to smooth the path to this point, bravo!

It’s time to crack open the champagne. It’s now over to you – YOU the curvy customer who is deserving of great designer fashion.  We’ve worked hard to make it more accessible and it’s important that you support these initiatives to ensure their longevity and success.  This is just the beginning.

HAPPY SHOPPING!

Love your shape!

Janine x 

 

Realistic & Identifiable Garment Review

In my mission to empower curvy women to love their shape, I have the pleasure of working with some amazing Australian plus-size Independent designer brands. Recently, Alison Dominy Designs entered the market offering classic cuts with premium fabrics. Alison and I were chatting about the challenges of being visible to her target market of women size 14-24. I recommended to Alison that we put a call-out online and choose 3 deserving ladies to receive a garment to review, and keep!  The call-out generated over 50 responses and it was certainly difficult to choose (those of you weren’t selected this time, fear not – there are more of these opportunities coming your way soon!).

I spent some time working through the personal information and photos that the applicants had submitted, and selected what I felt was the best garment for their body shape. Of course, this is a challenge when you’re not working with a customer face to face, but I blitzed it 🙂

Three packages were sent out to the reviewers and I then scheduled styling sessions with each of them via skype to work on the review.

The purpose of the review is to give realistic and identifiable information to you the potential customer, to help you see how a garment looks and feels on a non-model body.  It is clear from my data that women want to see and hear how garments “really” fit and feel, and it’s our mission to engage you on this level.

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BRAND & ASTHETIC

Alison Dominy, founder of Alison Dominy Designs Pty Ltd, made her fashion debut in March 2015 with a collection of classically edged designs with an understated elegance attached. In December 2014, Alison Dominy was selected and attended the PURE London tradeshow in February 2015 and was the first dedicated plus size designer to ever be accepted to the show. Alison has also been accepted to show case her designs this year at the UK Plus Size fashion week in September. Alison’s main focus however is to sell and become known in Australia as she feels there is a real lack of classic clothes in the plus size field. Coming from a Human Resource background, she only knows how hard it is to find premium, hard wearing attire that can be taken from the office to night and struggled to find appropriate professional wear.

THE DESIGNER & HER TEAM

From an early age Alison has drawn and sewn. In approx. 2009, Alison starting learning from Margaret Adam’s Sewing School. Margaret is an ex TAFE fashion design Teacher, and Alison had the privilege of working one on one with Margaret and subsequently learnt as much as a studying student.  Alison also studying fashion design on-line.

Alison has a dedicated team behind her with a pattern maker and garment consultant based in Brisbane. She pays particular attention to grading for plus size and curvy women.

Selling on her own website and www.hardtofind.com, Alison has a 100% success rate with 0 returns and or exchanges. Alison puts this down the cut of the garment and quality of the fabric. Alison strongly feels her customer get what they paid for and more as her ethos is that these items should last 10+ years.

Alison knows her garments well and understands her customer has a keen eye for detail and who will incorporate her tasteful designs into their daily life. Alison doesn’t like to state or ‘box in’ the age of the woman that will wear her clothes, however when appealing to the more mature market she feels her garments would suit as well as women from their mid 20s.

“Fashion is about feeling confident in the skin you’re in. My vision is for every woman of all shape and curve to feel compowered by what they wear.” Always be your best self.

Alison Dominy

CUSTOMER REVIEW:

Garment Reviewed: The Angel Dress – RRP$149.00

Alison Dominy 3/4 sleeve, mid-length dress. An effortlessly elegant and sophisticated dress designed to flatter your curvy inner Goddess. This dress has been designed to perfection with beautiful draping around the bust and asymmetrical neck detailing; it can be left to flow loosely over the body or belted to accentuate your waist. So soft you will never want to take it off, so make it your own personal statement by accessorising, pairing with strappy or pointed heels.

  • Colour – Grape
  • Pull-on style
  • Cool wash, dry flat
  • 92% Modal, 8% Elastane

AD102

 

Hello Janine,

I’m Jo (short for Johanna), I’ve been around for 30 years, and wear anything from 16-20 (my measurements are 45-39-48).

By day I am a clinical audiologist and PhD student who is trying to launch a biotech startup with a couple of friends. By night I am a board game enthusiast who sings soprano with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic. I have three cats, and a dozen beleaguered houseplants.

My interest in plus-size fashion stems from a firm belief that fat visibility is incredibly important. To be beautifully, unapologetically fat is a fiercely political act, and we can’t do that without access to fashions that we are happy wearing. I’m so glad that we’ve come very far from limited, shapeless options (see: Curvy Couture Roadshow!), but you and I both know how much further we have to go on the fatshion front. Jo.

 

Johanna received her package and spent 30 minutes via Skype with me relaying her thoughts and showing me the fit of the dress on her shape. I asked Johnanna to put together a review in her own words and here it is:

I love receiving packages, particularly if they hold the promise of a lovely new dress. When this one spilled out into my hands, I let out an involuntary gasp: the fabric felt like it was made of spun butter. I couldn’t wait to try it on.

I slipped into it the moment I got home, and bounded excitedly out of my bedroom to show it to a friend. “Oooh no. No no no no no,” he said, “you can see all your belly rolls.”

I looked down, dismayed. He was right. The lovely soft drape of the fabric meant that it skimmed each of my bumps and furrows. Worse, the unstructured fit meant that I looked both shapeless and lumpy. Still, the feel of it against my skin was so wonderful that I kept it on for the whole evening. Afterall, we were just watching the latest Project Runway on the couch.

Staring down the barrel of a long day the following morning, I decided to give the dress another go – I wanted to carry the comfort of the fabric with me. I fastened a narrow belt around my waist and suddenly the dress was transformed. The belt gave me a defined waist, prevented the fabric from weighing itself down and against my belly, and made my hips pop. When my friend saw me again, he asked if it was the same dress, because he was now happy to be seen in public with me. With friends like these…

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Now that I know how to make the dress work for me, I have to say that it is my new go-to piece for just about everything. The drape-y detail across the chest is flattering, even though I have a rather ample bosom. The asymmetrical neckline is a bit sexy (evokes an off-the-shoulder silhouette, even though it’s not really), yet completely work-appropriate. Above all, it feels fantastic. I’ve worn it nearly every day since I’ve received it, and I’m looking forward to wearing it on the plane this Friday for an 8 hour flight (without the belt, it’s practically a nightgown).

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I am very enamoured with this dress. It is versatile (work to evening transition depends on the choice of shoes and earrings), skims the curves (mid-section aside, it makes my bum look fantastic), and oh, the fabric! I’ve not worn anything that feels this good that isn’t fancy pyjamas.

Johanna Tan

So there you have it, a realistic and identifiable review. To shop Alison Dominy Designs simply click the link here.

Love your shape!

Janine x