W HEN FRIENDS Patrick Herning (a fashion public-relations pro) and Kathryn Retzer (a former magazine editor) set out to launch 11 Honoré, an online luxury destination for sizes 10 to 24, they tapped into their fashionable network. “Patrick and I literally went door to door down 7th Avenue in New York, with no name for the company and no working website, and signed 14 designers,” says Retzer, who was inspired to start the site after struggling to find a wedding-guest dress that would fit her size-16 mother. Michael Kors, Monique Lhuillier and Zac Posen were some of the first names to join the e-comm start-up. Then Mary Katrantzou, Juan Carlos Obando and many more followed. In less than a year, 11 Honoré grew its designer roster from 14 to 70. Some, like Christian Siriano, were already known for catering to a broad range of sizes when they came on board, while others, like boho-cool brand Baja East and laid-back glam label Adam Lippes, found a platform to sell clothing above a size 12 for the first time. “The straight-size customer has plenty of options. We don’t need to compete with Barneys or Net-a-Porter,” explains Herning. Although 11 Honoré carries many of the same designers as the big luxury e-comm players, it has a refreshing point of difference: inclusion. “For us to truly be disrupters, we need to provide our customer with options that don’t exist anywhere else, to serve the customer that is not currently being served,” says Herning. To that end, 11 Honoré stocks everything from no-nonsense workwear (think Michael Kors blazers and Jason Wu shirtdresses) to swimwear (sporty colour-blocked pieces by Cynthia Rowley and Chromat) to stunning eveningwear (including a standout lavender chiffon gown by Reem Acra). With every sale and every new designer that joins, the duo behind 11 Honoré is proving that there is, in fact, a customer base for a pleated tulle dress by Jonathan Simkhai above a size 8. And that customer base is here to stay. “This isn’t about a trend; this is a global fashion movement,” adds Herning.
DENIM, DEMOCRATIZED Sarah Ahmed, the founder of direct-to-consumer denim brand Warp+Weft, is a little obsessed with numbers. She can name the percentage of U.S. women above a size 14 off the top of her head (67), and she regularly wakes up at 5 a.m. to check the company’s analytics to see what’s selling best. (Currently, it’s a high-waist, wideleg style that Ahmed says is perfect for the office.) This attention to detail and reliance on real-time customer data landed Ahmed on Forbes’ 30-under-30 list. The styles, from a high-rise skinny to a relaxed vintage fit, are available in sizes 00 to 24. And those sizes are tested on the average wearer. “Models, whether petite or plus, have otherworldly proportions. We test on real people. The bigger the feedback loop, the better the product,” she says. But it’s not just the approach to sizing that’s getting attention—Ahmed’s pieces, which are manufactured in the brand’s own factory, are also easy on the environment thanks to a low-water, low-energy manufacturing process. Talk about good jeans.
THE BRA GAME CHANGER Few among us love shopping for bras—including Heidi Zak, a Google alum who turned her disdain for the outdated model into an innovative online underwear brand called ThirdLove. Since launching in 2013, the brand has developed half-sizes for bras—an industry first—and now boasts 70 sizes. The company is also trying to democratize the shopping process. ThirdLove’s bras cost the same no matter the size (which often isn’t the case with bras above a D cup), and there’s no separation from the “standard” sizes. “We thought long and hard about what, if anything, to call them, and we asked our customers what they wanted. The resounding answer was that they did not want a ‘plus’ label,” explains Zak. “We want to enable women to choose how to define themselves, and your size is just that—your size.” ■