Plus size designer Monif Clarke has been paving the way for plus size fashion for 10 years. In Sept. 2015, Clarke's namesake brand Monif C. celebrated its 10th anniversary, and there's no doubt the retailer has become a cornerstone of the industry this last decade. Worn by celebrities and bloggers alike, Monif C. has come a long way, though. Starting up in a plus size industry that was shapeless and boring, Monif C. arguably helped change the way that we view plus size women and plus size fashion. After 10 years, the brand is continuing to take risks and produce stunning clothing within an ever growing, constantly diversifying market.
To celebrate its 10 year anniversary, the clothing company has already done so much — from something as simple as changing the emblem on the site to read "a decade of curves" to reaching out to customers to ask them which iconic pieces from Monif C. should be brought back for the "Anniversary Collection." If you have a favorite item that you wish the store would bring back, you can tag an Instagram picture of the outfit with #monifcturns10.
I reached out to Monif Clarke and publicist Gillian Small via email to get some little known info about both Clarke and the company. With these facts in mind, the growth that Monif C. has made in 10 years (and that it is promising to make for another 10) feels so much more rewarding.
1. Monif C. Began In A Basement
Monif C. was started 10 years ago (duh) by the brand's founder, CEO, and namesake, Monif Clarke. Although Clarke embodies an elegance that one can assume has been with her for her entire life, she began the company from the basement of her parents' New Jersey home. And now look at it! The brand flourishes online and is currently based in New York.
2. Clarke Was 26 When It All Started
Inspiring to all 20-somethings who worry that their lives are never going to lead anywhere (because we chose majors that don't lead to jobs and our parents messed up the economy), Monif Clarke started her company at age 26. You can now ignore all the filler news stories about genius 12-year-olds. Finding your career doesn't have a time limit.
3. And She Had No Prior Fashion Training
None! Monif Clarke had no formal fashion training when she took on the task of founding Monif C. In fact, she was a math major at Rutgers University (which probably helped with the business side of things).
4. Her Biggest Inspirations Are Plus Size Women And Barbados
Clarke says she garners the most inspiration for her designs by the gorgeous plus size women of the world and the bright colors of Barbados. Her cuts and color choices definitely reflect her statement, as a quick scroll through the site shines with color. It's a stark contrast to the dark and demure styles that used to rule plus size fashion.
5. Monif C. Was One Of The First Plus Brands To Introduce Bikinis And Crop Tops
In a world where "fatkini" is a widely accepted term, it's hard to remember when it wasn't. Monif C., however, was one of the first plus size brands to introduce bikinis and crop sets for fatter women. These days, it's safe to say the crop top is a staple item in most plus size wardrobes.
6. The Best Selling Item Is A Convertible Dress
The best seller for the site is the Marilyn Convertible Dress, an item that can be worn in hundreds of ways. The only limit is your imagination, although criss-crossing the fabric might take [said imagination] CUT and the help of a friend, too.
7. Plus Size Celebrities Love Monif C.
Although probably every plus size blogger I know of owns a piece by Monif C., its wide appeal even stretches to plus size celebrities. Gabourey Sidibe, Jill Scott, Danielle Brooks, and Raven Goodwin have all worn Clarke's designs, to name a few.
Knowing where the brand has come from — out of a dream for more diversity in plus size fashion and Clarke's parents' basement — makes this 10th anniversary so much sweeter. For the company, the only way forward seems to be up, and I can't wait to see just what that means.
Images: Courtesy Monif C.