In Part One of my interview with plus size designer Jill Alexander, she talked about her excitement about her new fall collection. Learn more as Jill and I talked about her perspectives on work, life and style in Part Two of our interview.
Your Stella blouse with its unique style features will help your customers look fashion forward while remaining professional. You seem really excited about the Stella blouse. What else are you looking forward to showing our readers?
I love our Morgan maxi skirt and the Olivia blouse. These pieces were designed to wear together. It looks like one a maxi dress, but they can be worn separately. You have this nice maxi skirt that you be casual in with a tee shirt on the weekends. You can even wear the Stella blouse under the Olivia blouse worn like a vest. I’d love for my customer to find pieces for her closet that she can wear a hundred different ways.
I think that’s very smart. It’s not just about creating the same dress in three different colors. Fashion is really about helping the girl to create a wardrobe over a period of time. You’re looking at offering your customer a lifestyle, right?
That’s the basis of everything I do because coming from a visual merchandising background I am always thinking of how the collection can work with the previous collections. I want to build a woman’s wardrobe. I don’t want her to come and find one perfect dress and then that’s it. I want to give here things that she’s going to live in and that will become her closet favorites.
You sale your line independently through your website. Where else are your clothes sold?
We are in plus size boutiques through out the US, Mexico, Canada and Australia and we’re working on a store possibly in Denmark.
I ran into Nicole Christie the buyer for H&M on the reality show Fashion Star. I am going to interview her because one of the questions I want ask is how do buyers decide what to buy for plus sizes at big department stores. What has your experience been?
That’s a really a great question. I like boutiques because the shopping experience is generally more personal and their sales people really know how to fit plus sizes. The sales people tend to shift to different departments at the big stores. There is a special quality to plus sizes. I think because we use more fabric things look different on a hanger than they do in a straight size. I think investments have to be made in plus size forms, plus mannequins, and plus size hangers that are a little broader, so the garments can be merchandised with the same quality as straight sizes.
I often say that Michael Kors makes some wonderful plus size clothes but it would be marvelous to be able to go to Madison Avenue to buy them. I do enjoy your unique perspective from your background in visual merchandising. As a stylist, I am concerned with the quality of the marketing and advertising. It’s often uninspiring. I appreciate what you’re saying on a technical level that plus size hangers and mannequins are needed to market the product well. As a designer you might even be reluctant to let your clothing be merchandised in a way that’s less than ideal?
It does require some specialty components and most department stores haven’t invested in them. What you see is a plus size shirt falls off the hanger because of more fabric and the shoulders are a little broader. It can look sloppy. You see things bundled on the floor and slipping off the hanger. The plus size department is found generally in the back corners of stores, dimly lighted and with few mirrors. I just don’t think it’s a really attractive environment for the plus size customer.
Jill, if you weren’t designing plus size clothing, what would you be doing?
I would still be in the fashion business. You know prior to going back to school to learn design in 2007 I was styling plus size people and doing personal shopping. I’ve always found that fun and exciting so, I’d probably be doing more of that. I am a mother of two teenage daughters and there is never enough time with them. So I would obviously be spending more time with them. One of my daughters is headed to college next year. And I love the place where I live. So, I would have a million things to fill my time. But this is a passion of mine and I get to come to work and be happy and creative everyday.
For Plus Size Contemporary Clothing visit www.JillAlexanderDesigns.com
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