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 

 

My Winter favourites for my curvy figure…

Living in Melbourne it’s easy to be confused about what season it is. Technically we’re still in Autumn, but earlier this month the weather was so chilly that I dove into my wardrobe and started my wardrobe revamp for the new season. Out came my beloved boots, knits and stockings, and away went the summer staples. About a week later, the weather changed and we have been experiencing some beautiful mild weather with 20 degrees consistently. Frustrating, but I’m not complaining.

My secret to a versatile wardrobe is simple. Ensure that your wardrobe selections are trans-seasonal and mix & match for all types of weather. Whilst I readily admit I am much more comfortable and feel better in my winter wardrobe (I’m just a winter girl), over the years I’ve also learnt to become just as comfortable in my summer wardrobe. Living in a region that offers sporadic weather just ensures that a good trans-seasonal wardrobe will take you a long way.

My philosophy is that dressing a curvy figure is an art, not a science. Let’s face it, time and time again I prove that the standard, generic formulas given to us by the image and fashion industry don’t take into consideration the MOST important part of dressing a woman’s figure – how she FEELS in what she is wearing. I’ve written about this is my Top 10 Tips when shopping for your curves…

ESTABLISH YOUR OWN STYLE: Don’t be overwhelmed by current trends, it’s easy to feel like we’re not “trendy” if we’re not wearing the latest and greatest, but let’s face it, not everyone looks great in bright yellow and black! (I certainly don’t). It’s important to establish your own style, make it unique and let it reflect your personality. Choose garments that add value to your image and flatter your body shape, whilst staying true to what you love. For me it’s vests, jeans and lots of accessories with a bit of a boho feel. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but don’t be fooled into thinking that you must be wearing the latest trends to look great. This is simply not true.

My style is all over the place, I love colour, I love black, I LOVE boots, I want to be comfortable yet stylish, sometimes I just want to dress down but not look like I haven’t made an effort. I’m classic, yet relaxed, boho yet structured… either way, I’m just ME.

DenimVestJust the other day Pete and I we were heading out for dinner and I grabbed my trusty Igigi wrap dress (a classic maxi wrap that I’ve had for years and just adore) and paired it with my old favourite Autograph denim vest. Trends didn’t come into it for me, for me it’s always about what looks good and feels good on my figure.

This season I’m grateful for my new wide-calf boots. I have 4 pairs in my wardrobe. I often get enquiries about Wide calf boots and where to find them. A few years ago I found THE perfect boot, the Jessica Boot from Pergoni Sisters. I wore those boots to death (and yes I admit they are still in my wardrobe, with holes in both soles from so many wears, but I just can’t bring myself to part with them, they were the perfect fit, perfect length and perfect heel height which I’ve never been able to find since). I’ve asked the girls at Pergoni to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE repeat that style, but alas no luck 🙁 I have another pair of Pergoni Boots and I love them but they are just not my Jessicas.  Of course I have some gorgeous black Louvre Bennetts Boots which I love too, but alas, as I wrote in a previous post, Bennetts Boots have gone into liquidation and they will be no more 🙁 My Louvre’s have lasted 3 years with lots of love and care, and lots of wear, but it’s time to inject some NEWNESS into my collection. I started hunting and have found lots, but have to admit that as they are all available online only, I’m a little nervous to assume that they will fit correctly.

Whilst I was trying to overcome this fear, I was also hunting for a wind breaker/rain jacket to replace my old favourite that I purchased at Autograph many moons ago, and regrettably left on the back of a chair at a café some months ago – I’ve been lost without it, until… a beautiful friend and I spent a weekend together for some girl time and she pulled her own jacket out and I screamed – “that’s it – where did you get that???”

We were in rural Victoria at the time away, it was after 5pm and I was away from my PC, but I jumped onto my iPhone and started started searching for the garment immediately…The Sara Spray Jacket – YES!

SaraBackJacketSaraFrontJacketThis jacket is amazing, it’s so light weight it scrunches up into my handbag, pocket or backpack, it buffers me from the wind on those squally days and keeps light rain off me (note: it’s not waterproof, but it does a good job in my opinion). I love the cuteness of the little white ducks on navy, but I opted for the animal print 🙂 And if that’s not enough, it’s stylish and can be worn open, closed, cinched or not cinched – in a nutshell – it’s DA BOMB! It retails for $49.95 (I would have paid more it’s THAT good!), but to my surprise it was (and still is today) on sale for $29.00! Bonus

Bootts2Boots1Whilst I was placing my order I decided to check out their boots too, just in case. I’ve looked at Sara’s boots before, but have never been compelled to try them. This time was different. I found a large selection of wide-calf boots (be careful to check your calf measurement to ensure they are a correct width as they do vary a lot) and fell in love with these ones… The buckle trim boots for a tidy $79.99. I’m a big believer in buying quality, BUT, the style also needs to be right and to be honest I haven’t found the correct style in the higher-end offerings – yet. $79.99 bought me a style I’m really happy with in a synthetic material boot. I know they won’t last long, but I was extremely happy with the quality of the finish and they are super comfy too. I especially love the detail at the back of the boot and it’s flattering to my leg.

Colour is also important to me, I’m a big lover of black, but it’s rare that I wear all black. I find it important for me especially during the dark & dreary winter months to add a splash of colour, it helps lift my mood. A simple way to do this is to invest in some great accessories such as scarves.

Some of my favourite accessories (as you’ve read before) come from Coussinet a fashion accessories company that believe in beauty inside & out. This season my winter selection of accessories include another two beautiful Coussinet choices, the Italia Scarf and the Val Gloves. 

VAL_GLOVES_FUSCHIA_largeThe colour of the gloves sets off the gorgeous complimentary colour in the scarf, so I can accessorise with reds (as in the photo below) or I can wear a black outfit with my gorgeous scarf and bring out the fuschia colour instead of the red in the scarf. The gloves fit – well – like a glove! They are soft and warm, and feel just right. I want to wear them all the time!

Scarves shouldn’t be tricky, there are literally hundreds of ways you can tie your scarf! Here’s a great video I’ve referred to that is a great resource for getting the most of each of your scarves.

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I could go on forever about my favourite winter garments & accessories but let me end by raving about a new product that I KNOW you’re gonna LOVE!

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Hosiery. My experience (and I know from the hundreds of questions I get each season, yours too) is that hosiery is a tricky subject. I have scoured the globe for the perfect hosiery over the years and I have to admit that I’ve always been happy with my super stash of we love colors. They’ve served me well over the years. However, new to the Australian market is an amazing brand called Sonsee Woman. Sonsee Woman have actually cracked the jackpot! Their hosiery is Australian designed, made in Italy. Apart from the fact that they fit, the thing that stood out to me was that they are supportive, without that uncomfortable feeling of being restrictive, they’re stretchy whilst being supportive and not rolling down or sagging, AND they last much longer than usual – in fact I’ve worn the same pair three times so far! Here’s some key points about the brand:

• 3D & 360 degree elastane stretch technology allows Sonsee Woman hosiery to fit the lower legs, thighs, hips and waist without sagging, bagging or the dreaded “muffin-topping”.
• An Anti-Roll Waistband so hosiery can be worn high or low on the waist.
• Extra reinforcement at the thighs for greater durability.
• Unlike shape-wear – this product is both comfortable & smoothing with broad ranges in sizing, products and seasonal colours.

With options from a basic sheer 20 denier right up to 100 denier, and in both normal or footless, they have it covered. WOW! The price tag is around the AUD$25 mark – but take my word for it, they are a super investment (these aren’t your wear it once and throw them out type tights!).

meetsonsee1Oh, and if I wasn’t already convinced by trying the product for myself, a quick visit to their website sold me on the spot. I LOVE a company who knows how to market to their target market (yep you got it, real size curvy women in tights – completely identifiable). Yep I know, you know how passionate about that I am already 🙂

So ladies, there you have it, my loved items for the winter season.

Love your shape!

Janine x

Need some help with where to shop for your curves… check out my e-book “The Curvy Girls Guide to Shopping” with everything you need to know