I still remember the dark days of plus size fashion, when my options were limited to three stores at the mall and online shopping wasn't even a thing. I can recall the sting of waiting for my best friend to try on cute clothes in 5-7-9 (where those were the only three sizes they carried) before trudging into Torrid, which was literally the only option geared towards my size and age range.
Thankfully those times have passed, and 2018 has been the dawning of a new age in plus size and size inclusive fashion. Every year, plus size options in the marketplace increase, and 2018 surpassed the amount of new brands that launched in previous years. 2018 also saw existing cult favorite brands like Nasty Gal, Madewell, J.Crew, Reformation and Wildfang raise their size ranges, and we're hoping that in 2019 we'll see those brands expand sizing past a 20. But until then, read on to see what shopping sites you need to bookmark ASAP.
As one of the few plus size brands actually designed by a plus size woman, Tamara Malas' eponymous line truly understands her customers' wants and needs. After graduating from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and being awarded the highest grant for her senior collection, Malas spent time in London running the fashion closet at Dazed and Confused magazine before moving to New York City in 2013 to work as an assistant designer for a luxury brand. But Malas felt her contribution to fashion was hollow, and after seeking treatment for an eating disorder, she found her focus renewed.
Armed with the desire to prevent plus size women from experiencing the fashion frustrations she had, Malas launched her line under the concept of "create what you want to see in the world." Produced in limited-run batches and crafted from high quality innovative textiles, Tamara Malas draws inspiration from a deeply personal place, as well as from fine art and pop culture, culminating in witty, irreverent designs unlike anything else previously offered to the size 14 to 32 market.
Roxy Earle x Le Chateau
Personal note: I'm a fan of the "Real Housewives" franchise and I've seen every episode, including those with foreign casts. So when I saw Roxy Earle strut across the screen on the first episode of "Real Housewives of Toronto" I was enraptured, as she was the first plus size cast member in the entire series. Earle's sense of style was unmatched on that show, and I loved how her confidence never wavered, even when she was being intentionally excluded at a fashion event by her minuscule cast mate.
So when Earle chose to partner with Canadian-based brand Le Chateau on a size 0 to 22W line, I was obviously thrilled. As aspirational as her personal style is, her typical outfits were totally out of my price range, but by partnering with a larger contemporary brand, Earle was able to offer her elevated sartorial sense at a much more affordable price point, with the average item ringing in under $150.
After years of experiencing how difficult it was for her mom to shop for high-quality pieces in her size, Karine Hsu started And Comfort to create beautiful, versatile staples for women who have traditionally been excluded from fashion because of their size.
Offered in sizes 10 through 28 and focused on curated capsule collections of minimalist wardrobe essentials crafted from premium fabrics, And Comfort goes beyond the basics with their approach. Devoted to sustainable style, Hsu only uses natural fibers that are designed in an eco-friendly way, and she's transparent about her ethical production methods with a small artisan factory in Ningbo, China. Not only are And Comfort's pieces designed with the environment in mind, they're also painstakingly fit across all sizes, with three to five rounds of sampling and tweaks per garment. That community-driven approach to product development gives her customers the comfort that they'll never be challenged by fit issues again.
After hearing countless complaints from women about the fashion frustrations they've endured due to their size, Varun Kumar was inspired to create Luvmemore, an online store that caters to size 2 to 26 (with sizes 0, 28/30, and 32/34 available upon request).
Even though Luvmemore only recently launched in November, it's clear that Kumar has been listening to what women want, as every item is showcased on both a straight size model and a plus size model. Having that representation not only helps calm the worries of wary customers who are cautious about shopping a new brand online, but it also stays true to the ethos behind Luvmemore: That everyone should love themselves more and love the size they are.
Besides adoring their inclusive concept, we're also digging the affordable price point (currently, everything is under $70) and the whimsical designs, like romantic matched sets, on-trend animal print tops and throw-on-and-go dusters.
JXB Janie Bryant
The most recent brand to hit the scene — it just launched December 12th — JXB is designed by Emmy-winning fashion and costume designer Janie Bryant. But for fans of her work, think less "Mad Men" and more happy women, as she was inspired by "an audience of larger-sized women who seek stylish pieces, but who are disappointed by the glaring lack of options in the luxury space."
Offered in size 12 to 24, this luxury line features premium Kurabo denim, sleek and supple leathers, sumptuous silk and comfy-chic cashmere. Those high-quality items are accompanied by a high price tag, with skinny jeans starting at $298, $480 for knits, $660 for silks, and $1,100 for leathers. Although some may balk at the cost, Bryant believes that plus size women have been ignored by the luxury market for far too long, and it's high time they invest in themselves.
How would you like to shop a site that offers on-trend designs, fashion-forward pieces, chill essentials and everything is under $100? Soncy set out to turn this concept into a reality, but knew how much of a nightmare it can also be to find fashion-forward pieces if you're above a size 24 (where majority of plus brands end), which is why they offer up to a size 30 across all designs. They have also recently implemented a stronger fit program, with individual size charts per item (since it's impossible for woven non-stretch items and stretchy knit items to fit identically with identical measurements), as well as free returns and exchanges for all items.
And if that's not enough of a reason to shop Soncy, they offer an awesome VIP program for only $39 a year, which gets you 30 percent off all items every time you shop, free shipping and returns, exclusive styles and early access to sales.
Marée Pour Toi
The fashion industry is obsessed with French girl style, and Marée Pour Toi is bringing you that effortlessly-chic aesthetic in spades. Defined and draped feminine silhouettes lead the collection, with a focus on fit and flare silhouettes that extend to even the jumpsuits and blazers. Velvet, silk and sequins offer special touches that prevent these classic looks from slipping into "seen it before" territory.
Not only do those opulent designs ring in for under $100, the size 12 to 24 collection has been meticulously fit for stress-free shopping. The team behind Marée Pour Toi knew that you cannot use a formula to simply 'grade up' sizes, as there are intricate differences in the shape of plus size women whose measurements do not exist on traditional spec sheets. Due to their fastidious attention, they spend on average four months fitting each item, instead of the typical two to three weeks.
One of the things that always frustrates me about clothes shopping with friends is that we're forced to shop in totally different sections (that's if the store we're in even offers plus sizes). Dara Senders experienced that same frustration, which is why when she decided to launch her own line, she knew she wanted to offer a range of sizes instead of focusing solely on straight or plus sizes.
Currently offered from size small to 3X and with plans to extend down to a XXXS and up to a 6X in the near future, Dara Senders is poised to offer polished pieces to women of all shapes and sizes that are craving a bit of sophistication in their lives. Designed and launched in France as the first size-inclusive brand during Paris Fashion Week, Dara Senders' eponymous line is created with a classically feminine aesthetic, featuring pops of pale pink, graceful silhouettes and dramatic statement-making sleeves.
Named after the late actress Lauren Bacall, notable CFDA designer Cynthia Vincent recently launched her plus size-focused line, BAACAL. Offered from size 10 to 22, BAACAL is a mid-to-high end contemporary brand that Vincent created in the hopes of democratizing fashion further.
Those who are fans of Vincent's typical breezy aesthetic might be a bit disappointed, as BAACAL embodies none of the bohemian vibe that her Twelfth Street label provides. Instead, it offers items that wouldn't look out of place in Lauren Bacall's closet — that is to say, in the wardrobe of any chic woman who is attracted to classically sophisticated designs. Ranging from $198 to $995, and crafted from sustainable materials like melton wool, silk and pima cotton, BAACAL is currently concentrated on three core item types all women should own: coats, tops and dresses. From tailored and structured styles to elegantly draped dresses, this is one personal investment we can get behind.
After graduating from MIT with a degree in aerospace engineering and working in finance for almost a decade, the last thing Eugena Delman thought she would do was launch a fashion label. But, of course, that's exactly what she did, and thus Ava James was born.
Delman didn't have to go far for inspiration; her sister, a size 14 financial writer in Hong Kong, was struggling to find fashionable office-approved outfits in her size. Delman initially considered creating an import business to bring US brands to Asia, but she quickly realized that the US also lacked the kind of brands she was searching for. Delman decided to collaborate with Seoul-based print designer Saena Chung, and they found that pairing their complementary financial and fashion backgrounds made for a perfect partnership.
Manufactured in New York City's Garment district and offered from size 8 to 18, Ava James is more focused on that oft-forgotten "inbetweenie" market; women who are on the tail end of straight sizes but aren't considered "plus size" either. Focused on tailored dresses in a classic sheath or fit and flare silhouette, Ava James provides a perfect capsule collection for career-minded women who want to look like the boss they are.
If you've worked in a corporate or business-casual environment before, chances are you're familiar with Loft. But if you wore above a size 18, you were missing out — that is, until this year. In February, Loft expanded their sizing further and created Loft Plus, with sizing from 16 to 26.
Unlike many of the other plus brands that launched in 2018, Loft Plus is not an online-only situation. Instead, it's available in select stores and the company is frequently adding more in-store shopping experiences, including pop up parties that were attended by Loft's fit and tech team members.
Unlike how other legacy brands expanded their size range in the past by just grading up, Loft focused their energy on offering an unparalleled fit. By utilizing breathable, soft, stretchy fabrics, and listening to the customer feedback during pop up shops, they've been able to deliver exactly what their plus size shoppers have been looking for — at the same price their straight size shoppers pay.
2018 clearly was the year of women taking things into their own hands. Simone Babila decided to launch her own line, Simone Aviv, after too many years of frustration with the fashion she could shop in her size. Babila initially began designing her own wardrobe at age 16, and after graduating from from the Art Institute in California with a degree in Fashion Marketing and Management, she spent two years researching and developing her collection.
Designed and made in Los Angeles, Simone Aviv is concentrated on the "inbetweenie" market, offering a size range of 8 to 18. Focused on finding a flattering fit, Babila transcended the traditional seasonal method, creating a line collection that offers something for those "expected and unexpected moments in style," like gilded jackets, classic curve-hugging dresses and on-trend crop tops.
With over 1.7 million subscribers on YouTube, over 2.6 million on Instagram, and her affordable makeup line, Makeup Geek, Marlena Stell already understood what it takes to launch a successful brand. But even with such success, Stell was still struggling to find fashionable clothes that she and her friends could all shop together, so she decided to take a page out of her own playbook and create what she wanted herself.
Made in LA with fair trade labor, Marsté offers high-quality, casual-dressy essentials for size 0 to 22, like draped t-shirts, bodycon skirts, sleek bodysuits and layerable sweaters. "My goal was not to divide women into two categories: 'regular size' and 'plus size' because of the negative emotions that are attached to it," explained Stell. "I wanted to be able to shop one brand and recommend to all my friends whether they were a size 2 or size 22 and it be a positive experience."
Homepage Photo: Pray Moses Studio/Courtesy of Tamara Malas