Wearing your softest blanket out to run errands or to go to work is not generally the most socially acceptable way to stay warm and feel cozy when you're forced to leave your blanket fort of a couch. Knitwear proved to be a huge trend for F/W 2014 and I caught more than a few glimpses of it featured pretty prominently at S/S 2015 showings during New York Fashion Week. For better or for worse (for bettter, who are we kidding here?), knitwear is sticking around as one of the most wearable trends and our comfort is all the better off because of it. While straight-size women have their pick of go-to brands featuring this trend — from fast fashion to designer threads — plus-size women have generally been relegated to source their knitwear from fast fashion chains alone. Thanks to Cushie B, though, the days of itchy and ill-fitting sweaters are no more.
Don't get me wrong: I adore the portion of my wardrobe that comes from Forever 21 and other big box retail stores. That type of clothing serves a purpose and definitely fits nicely into my budget whilst allowing me to play with trends. As a plus-size woman in love with fashion who knows that there is nothing on the runways of fashion week made and manufactured with me in mind, it can definitely be disheartening. Knowing that even if I wanted to splurge on some more luxury staples, I would be out of luck — because no one was even making these items — was frustrating and made me feel like I was being punished for being plus.
Cozy Draped Blanket Cardigan, $155, cushieb.com
Creator and designer of Cushie B Val Thompson noticed that there was a distinct lack of luxury and plus-size brands available in all categories, not just knitwear, and that didn't sit right with her. "There still seems to be the attitude in the fashion market that if you're big, you don’t want or deserve beautiful clothes. This attitude is definitely changing — but slowly," she told me in an exclusive interview for Bustle.
Thomspon's luxury knitwear line is definitely the type of beautiful, thoughtful design that plus-size women deserve. The collection features pieces made in America with the finest Italian-crafted materials to provide clothing that not only fits well, but lives up to its premium categorization. The line is currently focused on tops: tanks, camis, sleeveless shirts, kimonos, and sweaters fill up Cushie B's online store at the moment. Thompson says that she will slowly be adding to the line's styles in the upcoming months and adding dresses, swimsuits and lingerie along with introducing some prints. Her goal is for Cushie B to become a complete lifestyle brand for plus-size women who crave premium products: She's even working with a jewelry designer now to add accessories to the brand.
Cream Sleeveless Top, $165, cushieb.com
Thomspon decided to create the line after working for several designers in New York, creating gorgeous women's clothing and realizing that her own options as a plus-size woman were limited. She says she'd never dreamed of her own line, but decided to create Cushie B out of necessity. A plus-exclusive line was almost a no-brainer: She knew she wanted to design the exact types of clothing that she would want to wear herself. "Knitwear is my passion," says the designer. "I am a 'knitwit!' I love the fact that with knitwear, you start with yarn and create the stitch as well as the shape. I also think knitwear is so comfortable." It is the comfort, versatility and care that Thompson puts into each piece that are ensurning customers turn into fans and devotees, including those outside of whom she originally thought to design for. "Initially, I thought that my customer was a 35-year-old and over woman looking for high quality, slightly different clothing. I have been surprised that I also have a younger customer that knows how to style themselves and put a different spin on things. So [the Cushie B customer] is definitely 25 and up, which is exciting," she added.
Regardless of age or personal style, Cushie B is for women looking for quality, beautiful workmanship and details that elevate classic pieces beyond basic — like the sheer, drop-shoulder kimono. Thompson says that she designs for "someone who is confident in there size and body type." It's no surprise that women often don't just buy once from Thompson, but return again and reach out to tell her where they wore and how they styled her pieces. Her level of care for the women who will wear her designs goes beyond creating clothes for them: She includes a hand-written note in each order. "I want women to feel beautiful/ confident and cherished when they wear my clothes... to know that I care about them and I understand the difficulties they have in finding stylish and quality merchandise," she says. Cushie B is proving that there are plus-size women who crave premium designer products, but that understanding and deeply caring about the customer are absolutely essential. In an industry that seems to all have but forgotten about plus women, this is the line we need right now.
Images: Cushie B