It’s rare to see what’s considered “plus-size clothing” represented in the offerings from fashion’s favorite luxury retailers—despite the fact that, according to a 2016 study, the average clothing size among adult American women is a 16. Even if a website does carry an equivalent to that, odds are it won’t have many options larger than an XXL or an XXXL—so, already, it’s a more limited selection to pick from. It’s true for the clothing on the rack, and it’s certainly true for the runway optics when the pieces are first presented to us. But a new e-commerce site called 11Honoré wants to change the longstanding disconnect between high fashion and inclusive sizing by flipping the script: all the designers you know and love, now exclusively in sizes 10 through 20.
WWD first reported of the joint venture from Kathryn Retzer, a fashion magazine alum, and Patrick Herning, a tech entrepreneur turned marketing executive, which is set to officially launch later this summer. When the online-only boutique opens in July, it’ll be stocked with plus-size pieces from Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, Marchesa, Badly Mischka, Monique Lhuillier, Haney, and La Ligne—not too shabby for an inaugural assortment.
“High-end luxury designers were completely missing from the retail landscape in sizes 12 and above,” Retzer told Glamour via e-mail. “This is something that hasn’t existed for our customer and we are looking to close this gap and bring her the same luxury fashion that is available for women sizes 0 to 10.” Herning, her cofounder, added that 11 Honoré hoped to fill the void left open by the often shallow buys that high-end boutiques do for sizes 12 and 14. So they sought out design partners who had “been dressing this customer for so long outside of traditional retailers and were well versed in the best looks to offer her,” according to Retzer, who collaborated with them on plucking pieces from their ready-to-wear collections that would make it onto the site. “We made the conscious decision to select looks directly from the runway and allowed designers for the first time to expand their runway offerings beyond size 10,” she explained.
Candice Huffine, who modeled 11 Honoré’s first lookbook, told WWD she personally looked forward to a shopping experience she was previously barred from. “[It’s] really hard sometimes; it has not been tailored for bodies above a certain size,” she explained. “That doesn’t mean we are less deserving of great, quality fashion and high-end designers.” This launch “opens up a whole new conversation about celebrating the beauty of women,” Huffine continued. “With the range of designers extending their sizes, it means that we will see inclusion across the board because luxury fashion now exists in this space.” That’s exactly what Retzer hopes to achieve with 11 Honoré: “We want to provide our customer with something that she has never had access to before. 11 Honoré aims to disrupt the current conversation and to create a space that honors our customer and celebrates her through inclusive sizing, high-end designer fashion, and an impeccable shopping experience.”
11 Honoré launches as an online-only outpost—although IRL, pop-ups and trunk shows aren’t totally out of the question. “With our launch we wanted to be able to reach the largest audience possible, and with my background in tech, e-commerce was the natural platform,” said Herning. The editorial touch of e-commerce also allowed them the opportunity to present product in a more comprehensive, personal way—”shopping destination that is enjoyable and empowering.” It’s as much about community as it is about, well, actually shopping, he explained.
Some of the designers featured in 11 Honoré’s debut collection have dabbled in inclusive sizing and plus-size clothing before. (At fall ’17 New York Fashion Week, both Kors and Gurung made headlines for modeling plus-size clothing in their shows—a first for both brands.) But save for a collaboration or other types of one-off projects, many brands, especially those smaller, independent labels, don’t have the resources to expand their main collections to encompass a truly comprehensive range of customers, at least not at first. “Honestly, I think the ‘trick’ is you have to really want to do it,” Christian Siriano, a designer who’s long practiced what he’s preached in regards to creating beautiful garments for everyone, told [Elle] last year. Siriano noted that it often comes down to a choice: “You’re embracing more of the world. Which is great. We’re all in the world together, you know?” On the other hand, Herning noted that the obstacle often lies in the buyers for these multibrand boutiques: “The designers we are working with have been designing options for our customer through trunk shows or private appointments. The hesitation is with retailers who are not stocking or requesting larger sizes.”
Still, it’s a market that’s unwise for designers to ignore: In 2016, the plus-size clothing business was valued at $21.4 billion, according to the NPD Group—and it’s only expected to grow. Then, of course, you have influential figures within the industry like Ashley Graham, who have begun challenging the convention from within. (“At the fitting for the [Michael Kors] show, there was a long fur coat that he wanted to dress me in,” the model recalled to Glamour in this month’s cover story. “But I was like, ‘Why don’t we do the short fur? You’re going to want to show my body. You’re going to want that press.’ And he goes, ‘You’re right.’ People listen because they know that I’ve been doing this for 17 years. They want to know, ‘Would you wear this [in real life]?’) 11 Honoré represents an alternative method for designers to expand and diversify: By partnering with this site, they can serve a wider audience and potentially grow their companies in ways they might not have been able to on their own. “We’ve been thrilled with the response from designers open to expanding their size range,” said Retzer. “By offering them the platform to do so, designers are able to dress more women and reach a customer who was previously limited in her access to luxury fashion.”
Hopefully, soon enough its efforts won’t seem so novel—rather, simply what we can expect from our favorite fashion brands.