Hope & Harvest heading for NYFW+

I’m so darn proud to be a curvy Aussie girl today, one of my favourite Australian plus-size designers, Harvest Powell, Head Designer and Owner of Hope&Harvest has today realised her dream and announced she has been invited to show at New York Fashion Week in September 2015.  It’s been my pleasure to support the label over the past few years, and this year as their Agent. What you don’t see until you’re privy to the intricate workings of a label, is the literally hard work, sweat and tears that goes into designing, marketing and manufacturing a label. This goes doubly for all those Indie brands who are for the most part, self-funded and busting their butts to deliver clothes that we covet and deserve. As you can see from the press release below, Harvest has an impressive resume and history of accomplishments, so this is a natural progression, but not one that’s easy to achieve. Having seen the inner workings first hand, I know how much of a big deal this is and just how talented and deserving Harvest and her team are of this honour. Please join me in congratulating and supporting them on their journey…

Love your shape!

Janine x

PRESS RELEASE for immediate distribution – 9A.M. EST, 9th July, 2015.

11696006_887827771264547_3537679877927260520_nBallarat based plus-size fashion designer invited to show at New York Fashion Week…

Fast on the heels of the their stellar contribution to the success of this year’s Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival at the Curvy Couture Roadshow, comes the highly coveted invitation for Hope & Harvest to show at New York Fashion Week Plus.

New York City is the forefront of the Worlds’ fashion and it is the highest honour for a designer to be invited to show at such an event. In fact, Hope & Harvest are one of only three International labels to be invited to show and the only Australian label.

Hope & Harvest are no strangers to the International stage, having been named one of the top plus size labels in the world by Madison Plus N.Y.C & Essence Magazine.

Hope & Harvest were recently asked to dress Rebel Wilson for the latest edition of Hunger magazine US and featuring in a 22 page spread in Volupt2 magazine in Paris.

Head Designer, Harvest held her first runway show when she was just 18. Harvest grew up around the theatre and cinema industry, and has been working on runway shows from the age of 9. From building her own sets to choreographing her own sound and lighting, Harvest is a veteran of the runway and her shows never disappoint.

It’s this same level of experience, detail and involvement that Harvest weaves into the Hope & Harvest brand. Each piece created intimately reflects Harvest and her team’s tireless determination to bring high-end fashion to the sisterhood of curves. Harvest is committed to exceptional quality. She is personally involved in the pattern making, grading and manufacturing of the brand’s clothing which is proudly made here in Australia, with a few select pieces manufactured offshore via fair trade agreements.

Winning seven industry awards before graduating from design school, Harvest has already accumulated some impressive accolades, including a collaboration with world-renowned jeweller John Calleija and Aston Martin for the release of the new Roadster in New York City.

Hope & Harvest brings an innovative and fresh approach to the Plus Size Fashion Industry.  A Young and Modern label offering directional designs inspired by todays’ top fashion trends for beautiful women in sizes 14 to 26.  Designed for modern urban living, Hope & Harvest are dedicated to the use of exceptional fabrics and quality.

The brand is also recognised for being at the forefront of body positive image within the Industry as they depict their clothing on models that are realistic and identifiable to their target customer.

This coveted opportunity to showcase their talented designs on the International stage at New York Fashion Week Plus creates not only an opportunity to build their already steadily growing business, but enables the label to expand their local workforce and create opportunities for their local community of Ballarat, as a lot of their garments are locally made and created from local fabrics.

IBISWorld stated in in October 2014 that the plus-size Industry is in the growth stage of its life cycle with annual growth from 2010-2015 stands at 3.7%. It’s clear that the fashion world is embracing designers who design for extended size ranges and ensuring they receive the recognition that they deserve.

One of Australia’s favourite singers Casey Donovan is also a fan of the brand and recently wore a fabulous Hope & Harvest outfit during one of her shows.

Hope&Harvest are transitioning from a small, self-funded and passionate team who have worked hard to move from Indie brand to experiencing large growth and opportunities.

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The shift is here…extended size ranges imminent

As you know, I’m passionate about ensuring every curvy woman knows not only what looks good on her, but where to find it. In my journey to help women “Love your shape!” I’ve worked closely with Australian plus-size designers and consulted with Retailers and plus-size Brands for years, helping them to understand their target market, developing their brand and encouraging them to market realistically and identifiably for best results.

My instinct has always been to push the boundaries and deservedly position plus-size fashion where it belongs – readily available in bricks & mortar stores/boutiques across our beautiful country, online and beyond!

In my past work as a wholesale agent for brands such as 17 Sundays, I’ve slogged across the countryside, samples in tow and visited hundreds of boutiques – only to discover that boutique after boutique are stocking the same labels as their competition across the street! Where is the variety? Where is the choice? I’ve marvelled at how some boutiques have managed to make a dollar whilst offering and competing with the same product. This just doesn’t make sense to me.  And not only that, but I’ve watched curvy customers walk straight past boutique doors, as they know that there is nothing for them there. What a missed opportunity!

In October 2014, IBISWorld released their report on the plus-size Industry stating the plus-size Industry is in the growth stage of its life cycle. Annual growth from 2010-2015 stands at 3.7%!! In simple terms, it’s the only retail sector with growth!

These are statistics you can’t ignore! Time for retailers to quit their complaining about how slow things are.. and open their doors to the curvy customer who has been ignored for far too long!

Now I’m not talking those great retailers who already stock plus-size fashion and extended size ranges, I’m talking about those boutiques that you and I walk past everyday, and we walk past them because we KNOW that there is NOTHING in there for us – they stock to a size 14-18 maximum (and we all know that those are not actual true PLUS size garments – just sized up from a mainstream size block!). Sigh.

I have a solid understanding of what the curvy customer wants and equally an understanding of what retailers’ challenges and rewards are, so it was only logical to put myself to work on making a change.

Over the past few months I’ve been busy busy with United Curves, a wholesale fashion agency I created exclusively for Australian Designer brands in sizes 12-26+. Now you might ask, why start at a size 12?  The answer is simple. I wanted to attract the businesses I am talking about above, the boutiques that would benefit immensely from extending their size ranges, as well as the already converted plus-size specialists.

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I spent a lot of time considering my approach, it’s was logical that I would source Australian plus-size designers, and to date I’ve built up a suite of brands including, Beyond The Sea, Hope & Harvest, huudaverti, Sonsee Woman, Lisa Kerr Designs and Plus Maternity Australia, AND I have a waiting list of over 8 more labels.

The opportunities have come at us thick & fast, which is hugely exciting. In March I sat in the Head Office of one our major Australian Retailers, talking to them about these brands.  At the table were buyers and marketing representatives, and I was astounded at how well they knew their customer. Previously the feeling was that it was all about the $’s and not about the customer (which incidentally if you get it right DOES equal more sales!), but I digress.  I nearly fell off my chair when one of the ladies, the head of marketing, said “no Janine, we’ll be photographing the garments on different sized figures”… wait, WHAT?? I was so conditioned at having to debate with these companies about realistic & identifiable representation of garments that I almost launched into my spiel, but instead I was stopped in my tracks – wow that felt good :-) YES!

I paused, took a breath, and then asked if she could please repeat that? and she did! My face lit up and I said “Now, that is historic!”.  There was a lot of smiles, laughs and excitement as I explained the usual dilemma I had faced in the past and my joy at finally finding a retailer who get’s it! Seriously, I have spent over 7 years talking to the major retailers about how they market their wares (this one included incidentally), how to attract the curvy customer, how to make her happy… this is the first time that any major brand (apart from the pioneers like Hope&Harvest who have been realistically and identifiably marketing on real size bodies for their designs since forever) has actually got it! There is definitely a shift, and the success of the past few months has reinforced that.

Shortly you’ll be seeing some impressive changes in where you can buy some of these great Australian designer brands, the shift is happening, retailers are opening their doors and finally understanding the benefits of marketing  to, (instead of ignoring) over 50% of the nations women – who ARE curvy…. stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled.

I want to keep this shift moving and have decided to create a campaign to invite bricks & mortar stores nationwide to open their doors, extend their size ranges and usher us, the curvy customer through the doors.

I’ll need your help too – if we can create excitement, and more importantly education, we can create change.

Please feel free to call, email, facebook or post below your ideas on how we can work together to achieve this.

Love your shape!

Janine x

The Curvy Couture Roadshow 2015

Did you hear it? The thunderous applause emanating from the ACMI lightwell at Federation Square on Saturday night? Or perhaps you heard the excited chatter of guests as they queued up at the steps of the Collingwood Town Hall to gain entry to the designer market on Sunday morning.  I’m guessing if none of the above your newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram has been humming with all the goss, images and video feeds of the weekend.

The weekend began for me at the Bloggers Brunch. 11 lovely ladies met at a café in the CBD, excited and ready to go. Jess & Erin from CCR hosted our brunch and we were given an outline of the events over the weekend, invited to come backstage to meet the designers and models as they prepped and rehearsed that afternoon, and of course to stand in the media pit, front & centre at the show. The bloggers brunch gave me an opportunity to finally meet some of my fellow writers, we were a merry bunch and all bring something different to the Industry. Thanks for the opportunity to meet and chat about the event prior to the show, it was fantastic, and so was the smashed avocado & feta toast, coffee and fresh juice – LOVE

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There was much debate on social media about what everyone was going to wear. I chose my comfy Autograph Jeans and kimono with a blast of Red with my favourite boots.

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Organisers Erin & Jess chatting to the bloggers over brunch about the event.

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Our Media passes and the yummy juice!

Bloggers

(Left-right) Erin, Jess, Me, Melissa, Lily, Natalie, Omega, Ashley, Olivia, Elyse, Sam, Hayley

The Curvy Couture Roadshow blew us all out of the water this past weekend. You may remember me writing about the 1st Roadshow that was held in Perth in 2013, it was my wedding weekend, and although I was in Perth I couldn’t make it :-( Last year I was overseas and missed it again, so this year I was determined to be front and centre, and boy am I glad I didn’t miss it. By all accounts this year was bigger and better than ever.

You’ve heard me banging on for over 6 years now about “realistic & identifiable” representation of plus-size garments and how ONLY doing this will truly sell to the target market. The CCR proved this point – ten fold!

From the minute you entered via the red carpet out the front, the excitement was undeniable.

Sarah & I

Sarah & I

I was lucky enough to be gifted a ticket and invited Sarah from Body Positive Australia as my guest for the evening, we loved the chance to grab a photo together before we entered the venue. I was proud to wear my beautiful kaftan by Kaftans by Annalisa, a Melbourne designer, I love it, I felt comfortable all night, but also felt fabulous! (Wish I could say the same about my shoes, my feet were killing me! but hey they looked nice right?!)

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Miss Scarlet Did It

The catwalk show began with a BANG – BOOM Suzie the gorgeous red-head stormed out of the curtains to begin the show in Miss Scarlet Did It lingerie, followed closely behind by a bevy of beauties of all shapes and sizes – not one body shape was missed – everyone in the room could identify with at least one of the models. To start the show with lingerie was a stroke of brilliance, it proved to the crowd that CCR is serious about making their mark, and more importantly making the point that plus-size fashion is relevant, it’s now, it’s shaking and that curvy women love their bodies and want to wear sexy clothes. It wasn’t only the catwalk that was full of body positive women, the room was full of incredibly beautiful women, inside & out.

The next 2 1/2 hours were a mesmerizing plethora of designs, I loved that each brand represented had something unique to offer, they all had their own unique spin on representing their garments, and the passion of the designers, the quality of the designs and fabrics made you want to run so far away from what I call “The Usual Suspects” (you know, the brands that are available in the shopping centres) that it wasn’t funny. In fact, the CCR was a chance to be convinced (If you weren’t already that is) that spending your money at any store BUT these designers was just, well, it’s just crazy!

Being a preacher of “love your shape!” and a firm believer of identifying your own personal style and dressing for YOU, it only makes sense to buy from these brands, not only to support local Australian businesses, but to take advantage of some seriously amazing garment options. I have a “must buy list” that is a mile long (and will take me years to afford), but the fact that I have a list now, is just sensational. I can’t remember the last time I went shopping and wanted to buy EVERYTHING!

My personal favourite was Hope & Harvest, this label is on fire! The H&H anorak and animal print bomber jacket just begged me to buy them, but seriously EVERYTHING that came out on those amazing models, and to the beat of the jungle theme just wooed me in :-) The styling and choreography was brilliant, H&H are already a front runner in realistically & identifiably representing their garments in all their marketing, and this flowed on through their segment with streets models wearing all their designs. BRAVO!

Hope & Harvest

Hope & Harvest

Hope & Harvest

Hope & Harvest

Meri by Design/Eder+Berk were amazing, stylish, stylish, stylish. The cape jacket will be mine! This seasons’ range is a serious option for those of you who are looking for great options for corporate attire too, I only wish they were around when I was in the corporate field years ago. Sigh.

Meri By Design

Meri By Design

I hadn’t seen Lisa Kerr’s range before the night, my first reaction was LOVE for their marketing, the models came out with signs “I am Inspirational (which is a size 18-20) and another “I am Confident” which translates to a Size 14/16 – their Measurement guide is wonderful and brilliant marketing to me, their target market. The designs were chic and fun with great accessories. This is a label I want to know more about.

Lisa Kerr

Lisa Kerr

huudaverti appealed to my gypsy side, my need to look and feel unique & extraordinary. Whilst one of the designs I felt belonged in my kitchen (I just can’t get my mind around a dress that looks like an apron), all the other designs blew me away! The fabrics are incredible, so unique, just like the designs, and although the styling was more “unique” than I would style them, the beauty was I could see lots of key pieces I could incorporate into my own wardrobe that would not only suit my style, but finally allow me to express it more, as there truly isn’t another label that is coming at fashion from this angle in the plus-size market. The Designers (3 sisters) behind this brand are so fantastic, and I loved how they acknowledged their mum in the front row beaming proudly at them at the end of their segment.

huudaverti

huudaverti

I love the quirkiness of Misty Belvidere, her show made a big impression with bold colours and fun, exciting patterns. This is a brand to watch!

Misty Belvidere

Misty Belvidere

Bombshell Vintage opened with the incredible green emerald dress, I can still see the luxury of the colour and fabric in my mind, and teamed with the gorgeous red tresses of model Suzie with her smooth moves on the catwalk, I was in love! Vintage isn’t my thing, but if it’s yours, you NEED to visit Bombshell Vintage.

Bombshell Vintage

Bombshell Vintage

Harlow, it struck me is a true Melbourne brand as us Melbournites are known for our love of wearing black. Harlow didn’t disappoint with some great styles in black, monochrome and deep reds with some pretty cool accessories.

Harlow

Harlow

Oh my goodness I could just go on forever about each brand that showed on Saturday night, but I just can’t fit it all in!, so here’s of list of the other incredible brands that showed, please show them some love by clicking on the link and subscribing to their mailing lists to stay up to date.

Seraphim, Pho Sizzle, Nyata, Camilla Jayne, Big Blossom PJs, Icelandic Blue, The Professors Daughter

Sonsee Woman made a huge impression too, suddenly out strutted models in their underwear, tights and crop Sonsee T-shirts – full of confidence and fierceness! It was an incredibly empowering segment of the event. I personally own a couple of pairs of Sonsee, and wrote a post about them last winter, if you haven’t tried them yet – get on it! They are the ONLY tights I will ever wear again!

Sonsee Woman

Sonsee Woman

Beyond The Sea, I wish I had seen this range before my recent Bali trip – I would have found my new swimsuit straight away! LOVE that Beyond The Sea not only understands design, but offers fantastic quality fabric in DESIGNS! Yep, not just plain old black. Loved the fun presentation of this brand on the catwalk.

Beyond The Sea

Beyond The Sea

The reaction from the crowd during the show was fantastic, there was clapping, cheering, gasps, squeals, you name it, it kept coming as thick and fast as the realistic models pounding the catwalk. The buzz during the intermission was so great, and the show finished with a bang, with one look from every brand represented on the catwalk which was greeted with thunderous applause. And then it was over. Sigh.

I was lucky enough to head upstairs to the after party where I got to talk some more with the other bloggers, meet some of the models and speak to the designers. It was hard to sleep that night, the buzz of excitement was infectious and kept my mind and body going for hours and hours. Sunday was the Curvy Couture Designer Market at the Collingwood Town Hall where as a Media VIP I got to meet and greet all the designers with a glass of champagne in hand an hour before the general public arrived. I took full advantage of that hour to scoot around and see as many people as possible, I made it half way before the doors opened and the stalls & designers were inundated with people eager to do the same!

The VIP guest for the Runway and Market this year was Tess Holliday, an inspirational woman who has made history this year by being the first plus size model to be signed to Milk Management Agency. Tess was front and centre with her man at the Runway, she was clearly enthralled by the brands on show and hugely supportive. She was so humble and generous, happy to pose with guests for photos and speaking with them. I finally got the chance to say hi to Tess myself at the Market, and I bought one of her fantastic t-shirts with #effyourbeautystandards on it! I wore it for 3 days straight, I just LOVE it and what it stands for. My 11 year old son said to me on Tuesday morning when I pulled it on over my jeans to do the school run “Mum, you really love that t-shirt don’t you!?” LOL

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I think my only criticism (for want of a better word) in relation to this event was that there was no MC. I wanted to hear a welcome, an introduction, someone to work with the excitement and anticipation that was building in the room as we waited for the event to start – to bring it for us and at the end, after the fantastic finale walk by all the models and brands, I wanted someone to thank us for being there, and to tell us to mark our calendars for next years event. That was missing for me.

I’d like to take a moment to congratulate the organisers of this years event, it was fantastic! Congratulations to Jess, Erin, Kate, Teresa & Karyn. I know the huge hours and effort that it takes to pull something like this together, and you should be congratulated. Thank you for raising the visibility of our Australian Designers, for giving them an important platform to showcase to their target market and to the public in general. I just know that this event will go from strength to strength as it is an important vehicle for fashion for curvy women of Australia.

Congratulations to the designers who put in a huge effort to have incredible & show- stopping designs to showcase, for all the long hours you put in to be there all weekend and for being so welcoming and sharing your brand with us. You did us so proud! I hope that you’ve felt the love and pride from all of us, your customers.

BRAVO to the models, the Industry Models from Bella Model Management, and to the street models who worked hard to practise, practise, practise to ensure a smooth performance. It wasn’t just smooth – it was AWESOME!

BUY AUSTRALIAN, SUPPORT AUSTRALIAN, we have so much to offer.

LOVE YOUR SHAPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Janine x