When you go to multi-designer fashion shows, there are usually a select few brands you expect to kill it — those staples in the industry that you know to demonstrate sheer brilliance season after season. But then there are the little gems: the surprises. And sometimes, they are the ones you remember for days to come — like the gems I saw at Plus North this weekend.
On Saturday, Aug. 30, Plus North held its third consecutive fashion extravaganza. As the premier plus-size fashion event in northern England, it's basically the North's equivalent of New York's Full Figured Fashion Week or London's British Plus-Size Fashion Weekend. It's a small event — intimate, if you will — yet the energy is anything but.
Walking into the doors of the Baracoa Luxe Bar in Leeds — a two-story, dimly-lit, almost-kind-of-romantic bar in the city-center — I was greeted with my long-time favorites, amongst them SimplyBe and Evans. I knew these brands would be showing off their A-game, and they didn't disappoint. SimplyBe will always hold a place in my heart for bringing in the perfect combination of vintage and modern styles, all possessing a charming sort of youthfulness I'll always be partial to. And Evans, who in the last few years has re-vamped and transformed from the middle-aged-go-to to the "there's something for everyone" company, did pretty awesome on the runway as well.
But it was the independent brands and designers I wasn't so familiar with that have stayed in my mind. I was acquainted with many of them by name, but not by site. I'd seen fellow bloggers rock some of the styles on their personal pages, and some I'd even electronically-window-shopped, hopeful to someday add them to my own wardrobe. Seeing them in the flesh, though, was something else. So without further ado, here are the seven plus-size brands to keep an eye out this A/W season. I know I'm going to.
Danish brand Zizzi is doing wonders in proving that the terms "plus-size fashion" and "high-end" are not mutually exclusive. Trying to shop for quality, long-lasting and fashionable apparel in plus-sizes is often a disheartening feat, but brands like this show that not only is it possible, it's also extremely worthwhile. Zizzi manages to be ultra-femme, whilst feeding off a grungy edginess common to the 90's. And the combination is nothing short of spectacular — not to mention appealing to a wide range of ages. The brand is still Euro-based and Euro-sold, but I'm optimistic they'll reach trans-Atlantic customers in the not-so-distant future.
Nicky Rockets is one of those beautiful rarities that, once it's in your life, you never want it to leave. Their mantra is, "T-shirts designed for, and inspired by, all the super curvy women in the world," which I just find incredibly cute and necessary. The designs can only be described as high-school goth meets rockabilly babe, and each shirt inspires confidence and body positivity at its best. Curvy love, zombies and pirates make Nicky Rockets a must for any plus-size woman wanting to add a little edge and quirk to her daily look.
I don't know that my boobs have ever been as comfortably nestled as they have since wearing Curvy Kate's A/W Princess bra. Pre-Plus-North, I'd been slightly familiar with the brand after seeing their spring collection on sites like SimplyBe, ASOS, Amazon and Evans, but I'd never had the sheer pleasure of introducing my bosom to their products. Curvy Kate lingerie is simultaneously comfortable and sexy — and revolutionary for someone who, like myself, has never felt properly secured and at ease in her bras before.
I was actually pretty surprised to learn that Elvi has been around for several years, but it turns out the brand has undergone a massive redesign for this A/W season, adding a far younger, more high-street vibe to the previously traditional, workwear-y brand. Elvi will still be offering workwear, of course, but the sort of pant and skirt suits you could picture on anyone in the 20-40 range. Mostly, though, keep an eye out for their gold and black brocade pieces... they're utter, sophisticated beauty.
I first came across Yours Clothing this past spring, when model and actress Hayley Hasselhoff was featured in a perfect editorial wearing some of their gorgeous florals and pastels. But I'm even more impressed with their upcoming A/W series. Think classic, flapper-esque sequins; sophisticated burgundies and bedazzle galore. Yours Clothing will be using a lot of fabrics and materials that often result in overly-kitsch final products, but creating some breathtaking vintage-inspired beauties instead. And it's actually, literally, epic.
Topsy Curvy kind of stole my heart at Plus North. Their stand, tucked away on the second floor of the bar, was one I caught site of at the very end of the event — and I'm so pleased I did. Their A/W range features a lot of brilliant plus-size fashion rule-breaking, with everything from bodycon dresses to Comic-book-printed leggings to palazzo trousers decked out in perfect punk skulls. I was impressed by the variety in the collection, but most of all, the subtle rebellion against the idea that fuller-figured women can't wear patters and form-fitting clothes.
One of the greatest things about e-retail sites like ASOS and SimplyBe is that they bring together several designers into one wonderful platform and shopping destination. Thus why discovering MSSVG was so delightful. The online boutique sells a select number of pieces by brands like Junarose, Zizzi and Cabiria, providing yet another outlet for plus-size women who want variety. I was especially smitten with their Junarose collection, the above sweatshirt in particular. I don't know; it just reminds me of a Victorian Cameo frame, and I think that's pretty spectacular.
Images: Courtesy Brands