Today was our first event in store since the pandemic shut the store in March 2020. Oh what a joy it was to be in the company of fantastic women again!!!
What started out as remote conversations by video call and DMs became an enriching tactile experience as our first consultation group came to try on our plus size clothing and give us feedback on our work so far.
Hannah wearing our Blackpool dress in a UK 18
You may have already read my blog where I talked about frustrations over the state of vintage plus size clothing in the UK. I suggested three general themed areas in which problems occur 1. a lack of high quality plus size clothing 2. issues with design and fit 3. overall a lack of availability.
That blog was written by me (who is a size 12) based on a culmination of ten years of listening to customers in store and hearing them describe the problems they face and me wanting to do something about it.
There is another piece written by me about our experience as a small business and what the journey has been that has brought us to this point. This is our opportunity and we want to get it right.
As none of our current staff wear a size bigger than a UK 14 it's important to get input from the women who are potentially going to be wearing these garments. Since 2017 when we began to design and manufacture our own range we have focused on fit. Whether it's size 12 or 22 we design for curvy shapes.
Andi trying a toile of a UK 24 wrap dress and feedbacking on sleeve width
Our first ever product was a jacket because we knew women with larger busts struggle to find good fitting jackets, which they won't struggle to button up and won't gape. Then we moved on to matching bottoms; A line skirt, wide leg trousers and so on. WE are very focused on making clothing that will last, that you will get great value from, yes in compliments, but more so in cost per wear. That means the fabrics we use must be machine washable so it's comfortable and convenient for every day.
That's why our customers appreciate us. That's one of the things that is missing in the current UK plus size market. We didn't want to create a separate new collection for plus size (that's just an exercise in othering anyway) what we want to do is offer more inclusive sizing of our main range.
Some of the garments tried are items we stock from suppliers. We always fully support mixing ad matching outfits. We hope that by creating a trusted plus size range in house that brings a wider pool of women to Revival Retro we will create enough demand that will allow us to also stock more sizes from other brands. Ultimately, that means more choice for you the customer.
So, after we had all settled in at the event, made our introductions and had a cup of tea the first thing I wanted to do was have people try on key products in our collection and give feedback. We already stock size 22 and we had made some size 24 toiles for this purpose.
Lottie wearing our Handy Pocket skirt
We all agree that simply making bigger sizes by grading up from a 'standard' size generally doesn't work. However, we were genuinely surprised at the overwhemingly positive feedback of our size 22 and 24s from Hannah, Lottie, Patricia, Andi and Hanne, our first consultation group.
Andi in a size 24 princess seam bodice toile
Everyone agreed that our size 22 waistband was genuinely 22. Everyone thought the fit was already very good and with minor tweaks for plus sizes would be ideal! We were bowled over. So pleased! We really thought we would have a lot of work ahead of us changing the fit given that we know women carry their weight in different places, that standard grading can make bigger sizes but for giant tall people and that no presumptions should be made.
Andi is wearing a toile blouse in UK 24 whilst Lottie wears a toile of our Holborn trousers in a UK 24
Why did it work so well? We think it's a combination of a few things. We spent a long time perfecting our sample size initially and it is based on a curvy size 12 with bust and hips. Our sample size is a 12-14 whereas many fashion companies sample in size 8. Our design and fit is based upon listening to our customers not on any fashion industry historical standard.
Charlotte pinning Andi into a UK 24 toile
We are aware though that this was only based on a pool of five women and we should seek wider input before we get to ahead of ourselves. This consultation was a safe space and the participants all said it was really fun. If you are able to visit us in central London to participate in a similar feedback session and are interested in taking part please get in touch. Everyone is welcome. Contact us.
There's still lots we are working on. Via social media @revivalretro we have been inviting people to message us with ideas and requests. There's lots to consider but our team are inspired and enthusiastic, we are a step closer to realising our ambition of an extended size range.
Attendees on the day were:
@littlelottiesparkles In the pride flag mask wearing a size 22 Cambridge dress who fell in love with everything and couldn't help but do a happy dance every time she tried something on!
@fatwomenrun next to Lottie who was utterly bowled over when she discovered she can go down a size in our range. Wearing a 20 rather than her usual 22-24.
@hannahsewing at the front in our St James pencil skirt in a UK 20, who told us she was absolutely a pleats not gathers person but after we got her to try our size 20 Blackpool and Soho dress she is a convert, so much so she purchased the Soho dress on the spot!
@melodymae with the red hair wearing the Charelston Top in a UK 24 who was super impressed at the work we have done and the thoughtful way we have approached this project.
@thevikingprincess also in our St James pencil skirt but in a UK 18, used to work for us and was super keen to give input on ‘apple’ shape and how to ensure our range will serve different shapes and sizes. Wearing size 18-20 she gave great input about shirt dresses.