On July 25, a fresh collection of trendy and wearable statement pieces hit the plus size market when plus size style bloggers Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason launched Premme. Despite the fact that the new plus size line was only announced a mere 24 hours before the launch, items began selling out within minutes.
"We broke our website," Gregg jokes in an interview with Bustle. The levels of traffic were so intense, in fact, that Premme experienced technological difficulties, an irrefutable sign of the demand that exists for varied and trend-driven pieces in plus size retail.
"We’ve been saying this for a really long time," Mason tells Bustle. "We know that this is something plus size customers really want. We know that people aren’t scared of fashion. Obviously everyone has different tastes. This isn't going to be the line for every single plus size person. But like the bottom line is that we’ve been told for so long [...] that there isn’t a market for this [...] No one really took us very seriously, so it was frustrating on a personal level. But on a business level, now it’s just like, 'See we told you.'"
Although both designers have collaborated with other brands before (including Mason's ModCloth collection and Gregg's swimsuitsforall lines), Premme is unique in that the pair has total creative control over all aspects of the designs, branding, and e-commerce.
As plus size women, and active participants in conversations surrounding body positivity and fat acceptance, the duo was always going to be in tune to actual consumer needs. Even the needs that they'd previously been told wouldn't sell, whether that be a more inclusive size range, models above a size 20, or a variety of silhouettes.
"When we’re working with brands, we kind of have to work with their limitations, their understanding of the market, and who their customer is," Mason explains. "A lot of them have production and manufacturing constraints so things like control over the size range, or control over the price point, are things that we literally had no influence in [...] We both really wanted to have all creative control and be able to really have our aesthetic put into every piece of a garment, into the campaigns, into the e-commerce, site design, packaging, all of it, from top to bottom."
"As members of the community, we kind of put thought into everything," Gregg adds. "So there’s no place where we weren’t thinking about our customers and our community, from designing the actual clothing to casting models to even the language we use in the copy to describe the products." Language like, "I’m a babe, you’re a babe, we’re all babes, k?" Or, "'Can I wear sweats out of the house?' Yes. You can."
The size range, in particular, was a huge component of Gregg and Mason's mission. While many plus size lines cap out at a 22 or 24, Premme's range encompasses sizes 12 to 30. "Being inclusive of sizes was really important to both of us," Gregg tells Bustle. "It is something that we’ve been criticized for in the past. I definitely have with my swimwear collection. Again, I don’t have full control over that aspect of things, but going in now and actually having more control, we said that was non-negotiable for us."
Then there was price point. "We’ve always had a goal of having everything with an average of under $100," Gregg says. "And we still maintain that moving forward. Like some pieces may go over that, but we really want the average to stay under that unless we have a special piece."
"In addition to that, just making super stylish statement pieces has been our mantra and goal from the beginning. We thought that the market definitely has a lot of great workwear. They have a lot of great basics. But what we felt was missing was like a destination that had all really cool designs and that weren’t watered down," she adds.
"Cool" is one of the best words to describe Premme's initial run. Of-the-moment trends like cut-outs, pearl detailing, denim jackets, and off-the-shoulder necklines are all there, alongside elements that aren't typically thought to be appealing to plus size babes — think bodycon fits, or cropped cuts, or belly-baring keyholes.
"We’re feminist and body positive women and we definitely do not agree with old-school fashion rules about what we can and cannot wear," Gregg says. "In terms of ‘what looks great’ when you’re plus size, that doesn’t really cross our minds because we know that any trend can work for us."
"Obviously as feminists, there’s a political part of it too where we love bodycon everything, but we don’t want to have to wear that all the time in order to be ‘body positive,' Mason adds. "We’re both very cognizant of the fact that there’s this pressure and sexualization of fat women to always be sexy. And sometimes we just want to wear cute clothes and have it be that. And you know, you don’t have to wear bodycons. You don’t have to be ‘curve-conscious’ to love your body or love yourself, and have fun with fashion. You can wear that if you want to, and you can also wear oversized pieces if you want to. Like we said earlier, it’s just about having options, and choice, and the freedom to dress however makes you feel your best self. And whatever makes you feel confident and empowered."
In the plus size world, such tools are still in short supply as compared to the straight size market. Larger corporations may continue to insist that plus size women don't want stylish or daring or remotely interesting apparel, but if there's anything Premme's instant success and positive reception has proven, it's that this couldn't be further from the truth. As blogger Cassie Westfall Lemp of Style Cassentials tells Bustle, "I love the unapologetic feminist vibe of the brand, from the amazing denim jacket, to the size diversity of models used, to the messaging on the site. The photos of Gabi and Nicolette were very powerful to me: A true celebration of female bonds, friendship, and collaboration — [of] what happens when we work together and support each other and reject the patriarchal BS that would have us competing instead."
Plus size model and activist Kat Stroud couldn't agree more. "The garments [are] simple in design yet [have] some daring lines," she tells Bustle. "One of my favorites that sold out right quick was the gorgeous jumpsuit with cut-out detailing! Bold and daring and the color is one most fat women are told not to wear, so I instantly loved it even more."
"Being an extended size, it was great to be included," blogger Lisa Schoenberger of Mustang Sally Two, who wears a size 28, adds. I love the fun girly vibe and the attention to details, like buttons that are sewn so they won't gape when you sit."
"I really feel like this is what our friendship was meant to lead up to," Mason says. "What our careers have been leading up to." That friendship, feminism, body- and fat-positivity were at the heart of Premme is obvious. That plus size consumers are starving for variety has long been obvious, too, but perhaps it is now more than ever. In Mason's words, we can only "hope that this influences the way other businesses operate and how they function and how they approach designing for a plus size customer."