Designer Lauren Chan is making pieces worthy of the plus-size consumer
‘I want to tell women size 12 and up that they are worth it and they are included.’
It's been a busy few months for Lauren Chan, founder and CEO of the newly launched plus-size line Henning. Chan first moved to New York City from Canada nearly 10 years ago, at a time when high-end brands weren't thinking twice about inclusive sizing. The former fashion features editor of Glamour tells CBC Life over the phone that she didn't have the ability to wear the couture outfits her colleagues could with ease. It was a problem waiting for a solution: "I decided to try to solve it in my own way."
In August, Chan launched Henning, a high-end, plus-size clothing line. She designed the line with herself in mind, telling CBC Life: "Henning is the result of spending a number of years working in the fashion industry as somebody who literally didn't fit in it." Henning's official launch took place during The Curvy Con, a three-day plus-size fashion event that coincides with New York Fashion Week. While the reception was positive, Chan admits the biggest challenge has been changing consumer perception, since the plus-sized consumer had been overlooked by luxury designers for so long. "So we're changing consumer behaviour," she says. Chan wants potential shoppers to know that luxury fashion can be made for plus-size bodies.
Today, there are more luxury fashion options in the plus-size space than ever before, with garments available on online shopping platforms 11 Honoré and Universal Standard (whose 'Fit Liberty' policy allows customers to exchange their garments for another size within a year, for free), and offerings from Canadian fashion designers Hilary MacMillan and Lesley Hampton. "Our clothes are made in New York by people who make a fair wage," says Chan, adding that Henning's garments are made from breathable, natural fabrics and designed "with the plus-size body in mind." This means details like reinforced inner-thigh seams, hidden elastic waistbands on pants and anti-gaping buttons on shirts.
Although today's consumers are lucky enough to see the luxury plus-size fashion market become a growing market, Chan says she would like to see more brands taking action. Since the launch, Chan has spent considerable time traveling across North America to speak at women's events, noting that it's been important to connect and talk with potential consumers. "I want to tell every woman size 12 and up that they are worth it and they are included," she says.
Amanda (Ama) Scriver (@amascriver) is a freelance journalist from Toronto best known for being fat, loud, and shouty on the internet. She loves bright lipstick and snacks. To read more of her work, visit her site.