fatshion

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How NOT to Market to Fat Customers

Published October 27, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Can you believe it, I’m actually a little bit speechless.  I know, ME, speechless!  That almost never happens right!

But I’ve got a doozy for you folks.  You may have seen a campaign going around the fatosphere and fatshion world calling for support and funding for a Kickstarter loan for a new company called Cabiria Style.  A new “plus-size” startup fashion company, really pushing hard for people to donate to their Kickstarter and promote their new company.  Now I’ve had a busy week, so I saw the tweets and stuff and thought “Cool, I’ll have a look at that later, always good to see new plus-size brands starting up.”   I finally got a chance to have a look today and was disappointed to see that the person behind this company only intends to cater up to size 24US – I take a 28-30-32US depending on the brand.  Happens all the time, gives me the shits, but yeah, I’m used to it.  I saw that someone had asked if they intended to extend their sizes in the future so I retweeted the question and said that it was important:

https://twitter.com/Fatheffalump/status/261984362222985217
I made it clear that it isn’t fair to ask me to support or promote a company that excludes me, especially when they promote themselves as an “inclusive” line.  I expected to get the usual line about how “we hope to expand our sizes in the future”.  At least it’s an acknowledgement that they don’t go up to the higher sizes, even if it is a bit of a fob off, right?  I mean, indie designer, baby steps, fair enough.

What I didn’t expect was a whole lot of hostile attitude about how it’s too difficult/expensive to do higher sizes and that our questions as to whether we were included in the sizing were “criticism” of the company/range.  Apparently, simply ASKING if the sizes will be expanded is a “personal attack”.

Oh boy, there is some really fucking entitled bullshit that has come from this woman.  I’ll let the tweets do the talking (she has blocked me because you know, calling her out on shitty marketing and excluding people in an “inclusive” range is such a horrible thing to do – so I have to copy and paste):

@fatheffalump there is an entire section on why to donate if you’re not plus size. Many of the donors are not plus size.

Umm… I’m not plus-size because I’m over a size 24US?  What the fuck am I then?  I’m “too big” to be considered “plus-size” but you still expect me to donate and promote your range?

@fatheffalump I’m making higher quality options than most. Pretty different in another parameter.

This is her response to how she is not doing anything new and different by only doing to size 24US.  What use to me is “higher quality” if you won’t include me in the sizing?  What kind of logic is this?

@fatheffalump if you look at the photos you may notice I shop in the plus section myself, and not everything fits.

This is supposed to justify that NOTHING fucking fits in her range for me or any other person over a size 24US.  So I’m supposed to consider this justification for excluding anyone over a size 24US to the range.

@Fatheffalump The options are to buy the clothes or not. Same as everyone else. Buy this apple.Don’t buy that pear. Options.

What fucking options?  Buy WHAT clothes?  You’re not providing them in my size!  Where the fuck is the logic here?  “Buy this apple, but if you’re a pear, fuck off we don’t cater to you – there, you have options now”.

Look, I know it’s not easy to start up as a company.  I’ve done it myself.  There’s a reason I’m no longer self employed.  But there’s one thing you need to remember.  If you want people to give you their money for your goods or services, you’d better fucking include them.  How difficult is that to comprehend?  If you don’t cater to them (and hey, not every business does, such as life),  DON’T EXPECT THEM TO GIVE YOU MONEY OR PROMOTE YOU!

And if you are a company selling size 12-24, don’t call yourself inclusive, don’t promote to the fatshion/fatosphere and don’t call yourself “plus-size”.  You are an inbetweenie company.  Go market to them.

So I’m doing the opposite of promoting this company.  I am urging you, my somewhat considerable following of thousands of awesome fat people here on Fat Heffalump and on my social media platforms, DO NOT spend your money with Cabiria.  In fact, if you have pledged a donation through Kickstarter – go cancel it.  Never shop with them, ever.  Withdraw your funds whatever size you are and show this person that if they want to be a success, perhaps they should invest in some marketing training before anything else.

Instead, I would like you to go buy some brilliant clothes from the following small companies:

  1. Domino Dollhouse – when DD first started I asked Tracy about catering to larger sizes, she told me she was working on expanding that in the future.  It took a little while, but she did, and she is now doing AWESOME things.  Hat tip to Tracy and Domino Dollhouse.  I hope you’re raking in the $$ Tracy!
  2. LucieLu – they go to 5X and are a really gorgeous quality.
  3. No Xceptions – Up to size 32AU.  Small range, but HOT prices and excellent customer service.  Extra points for being an Aussie company.
  4. Sweetooth Couture – Up to 6X.  Gorgeous.
  5. eShakti – yeah not exactly small and they don’t ship to Australia yet, but hey, they do gorgeous clothes in good quality and have no size limit (costs about $7.50 extra to get custom sizing – less than 8 bucks to get custom sizing – how awesome is that?!)
  6. Cult of California – up to 5x.

Give these companies your money.  Buy their products, promote the crap out of them and let them know they’re doing something right.  If you know any other small companies that do past size 24AU, please leave them in the comments.  Let’s show these companies that they are asking for our money and custom, they do not have the right to demand it.

And if you’re looking to start a plus-size clothing business, here’s a few hot tips for you:

  1. Size 12-24US is not special any more.  Don’t label yourself as unique or inclusive if this is all you do.
  2. Market up to your customers, not down to them.  If you want their custom and their money, treat them as valuable and they will reciprocate.
  3. Stick your neck out.  Don’t start at a 12 or a 1X.  If you can only afford a size range of 3 sizes, how about starting at size 3X and going to 6X and then expanding down later.  After all, it’s a bloody captive market, there’s FAR less competition out there for you if you do that than the 12/1x – 24/3x range.
  4. If you get questions or feedback, answer the questions, be honest and don’t take it personally.  If you turn it into a “You’re picking on me!” when people ask if you’re intending to expand your size range or say that they’re not willing to support a company that doesn’t cater to you, then you’ll lose ALL of your customers, not just the ones you are ignoring.  A simple “We are currently only offering to size 24” would have been annoying, but fair enough.  “We are currently only offering to size 24, but hope to expand in the future.” would have been lovely.
  5. You are not doing anything new or offering options to someone you do not cater to.  Don’t piss on our legs and tell us it’s raining.

bellecurve Review and My First Competition

Published October 9, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Well, I promised you all a competition, and here it is!

Recently the marketing people for a new range of Australian plus-size fashion available through Myer – bellecurve – reached out to me to offer to review their product.  They sent me a box of clothes to try including this Spring Blossom capri pants and jacket:


This Lure Me With Lace red top:

And this Global Traveller Kaftan top:

The first thing I noticed on unpacking them was the excellent quality of garments.  The fabrics are excellent quality and the construction and cut are really beautifully finished.  The Spring Blossom set are a cotton/Elastane blend with full lining in the jacket.  The Global Traveller Kaftan is the silkiest sheer chiffon with really solid quality beading on the neckline and down the front.  It’s so good to see some quality in plus-size clothing!  Check out the beading close up:

I also think the entire range is really hot!  Particularly the Spring Blossom set – so cute I could cry.

My only criticism is the sizing.  bellecurve only go to a Size 24AU (oh why won’t Myer stock anything that goes to a 26AU???) and I found the sizing somewhat inconsistent.  The Global Traveller Kaftan is really generous at a Size 24AU – here is a blurry bathroom mirror self portrait of me (sorry, no photographer at the moment!) wearing it:

See – fits me beautifully and is nice and drapey.  But when I put the other garments on, they are really inconsistent sizing.  The jacket is a size 22AU, and I’d say it’s fairly standard.  The pants and red lace top are both listed as a size 24AU, but the pants are much smaller (maybe a 22AU) and the top is somewhere between a 22AU and 24AU.

But that said, if they can just nut out their sizing, they’ve got a fantastic range and product.  I would be more than happy to buy any of the range that is sized to fit me.

“What about the competition!?” you ask?  Well, since the Spring Blossom set and red lace top don’t fit me, bellecurve have suggested I give them away here on my blog.  So for one lucky reader, I’m going to give you the whole outfit.  If you’re a size 22AU, and you like the look of these pieces (which are totally hot as an outfit), leave me a comment below telling me what you like about them and where you would wear them.  You’ve got until Sunday night Brisbane time and I will use a random number generator to draw a lucky winner.

Please note, due to shipping costs, I can only offer this competition to Australian residents.  I’ll try something for all of the rest of you next time.

Good luck and tell your friends!

Let’s Go Shopping

Published September 4, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Before I get into the meat and veg of this post, I’d like to say hello to the lovely young woman I met in Target today.  I was wandering around aimlessly (as I am wont to do in my lunch break) when she asked me if I was Kath and told me she read my blog and thought I was doing an awesome job.  I was so tickled I forgot to ask her name and properly make her acquaintance.  You made my day, lovely Target shopper!  You know, that’s the third time someone has stopped me in the Myer Centre Target to tell me they read my blog and praise my work.  It’s no wonder I hang around there so much!

So anyway, because the last few posts have been so intense, I wanted to have a bit of fun tonight and just post a bunch of pretty stuff because I like it.

I have been shopping quite a bit lately, because I got my tax refund back and promised myself that I was going to enjoy all of it on luxury stuff, since I had been a good girl all year long!

First thing I bought was this coral blazer from Autograph Fashion:

I actually went and gazed at it longingly, tried it on and then put it back on the shelf.  Slept on it overnight and rushed back to buy it the next day at lunch time!

Also from Autograph, I got this gorgeous lace edged kaftan:

It also comes in a deep eggplant purple, which I am tempted to go and buy too!

Today I picked up two pairs of flats at Target, first pair were these bold orange ones:

And I also got these lovely soft pink ones:

And lo and behold, Target had a plus-size garment I actually liked!  I got this little white cropped cardigan, it’s on sale this week:

I’m all about cropped cardigans over dresses at the moment.  Speaking of dresses, I got TWO gorgeous Leona+ dresses from Myer for $35 each!  Considering they’re normally $149 each, I couldn’t leave them behind.  You’ll have to excuse my very amateur photographs of them, I can’t find good ones online.

The bottom one is black with purpley-blue and red in the print, and I love the V-neckline with collar.  I do love me a Leona frock.  There are some really gorgeous ones in the new stock, I have my eye on a bold purple 60’s kind of print one at the moment.

Now how about some stuff that’s on my wish list?  Just for fun?

Well, while we’re on the subject, this bird print dress from Anna Scholz makes me drool:

As far as I’m concerned “put a bird on it” is a valid fashion option!  And that colour is so lush.

It’s no secret I’m fond of animal print, but this snake print tunic, also from Anna Scholz is just delicious.  That colour is gorgeous.

While we’re on colour, how about this Neopolitan Maxi Dress from Virtu?

I saw a pair of lemon coloured wedges today that would work perfectly with this dress.

And this skirt – well, leopard print.  Enough said:

I’d wear it with a whole lot of bold, bright colours though, cos I embrace my inner tacky.

File this one under “Things I love that don’t come in my size.”  How gorgeous is this peplum dress from Dorothy Perkins (not linking cos they don’t cater to my size!)

Of course, then there’s eShakti, who DO cater to my size (I’m about a 4X, but they go up to 6X, yay eShakti!) but don’t ship to Australia.  Sob!  If they did, I would buy this dress in a heartbeat:

Anyone in the US want to hook an Aussie up with a supply of eShakti dresses?  Especially this dress!

This skirt, also from eShakti is gorgeous too:

Oh, speaking of things I can’t have, I’m REALLY kicking myself that I didn’t buy this dress from Domino Dollhouse when I had the opportunity:

I actually had it in my shopping basket and went right through to the checkout process and then caved.  Then when I decided I really did want it, it was sold out.  DAMMIT!

How about we end with something that is a total lust object that I dream to own someday?  Can you guess what it is?

Yes, it’s Fluevog shoes!  Look at them.  Look at how gorgeous they are!

Or if you’re feeling really brave (like I am), how about this pair:

So what have you bought lately?  Or what is on your wish list (or perhaps dream list)?  Let’s have some fun, do some virtual shopping and share some pretties.  We’ve all earned a break.

It’s All About Colour… Unless You’re Fat.

Published August 15, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

I’m feeling really disheartened at the moment.  I went into my local Target yesterday, as a friend had told me that they had all this stock with amazing colours at the moment, and being the colour fan, I’m in!

But I came away so depressed, so disheartened.  But the difference this time is, I decided to take some action about it, and I took a bunch of photos on my phone (apologies in advance for the low quality of images, I was in a hurry on my lunch break, and was just grabbing shots on my phone, but I think they do illustrate my point) to share here.

I walked in to the store, and you betcha, there is colour splashed everywhere in the women’s wear.  It’s awesome.  They also have these little signs up on quite a few of the racks:

Weee! Colour!!

There are neon brights, loads of prints, lace, crochet, jewel tones, sportswear, you name it… all in the most glorious of colours.  So I took myself off to the plus-size section, which is at the back corner of the store, facing the shoes, you know, like they’re ashamed of it (they should be) looking for some fab coloured clothes for fatties.

Sorry, no fatties, you get this…

Zzzzzzzzz

Or you can have this:

Perfect… for my Grandma.

Ooh, wait is that a little blue I see?

Oh great, navy… tradesman checks.

Hang on, there’s a bit of colour behind here…

That’s a bit better, at least it’s not black, navy or grey.

Ok, that’s a bit of colour, I’ll give them that one, it also comes in a deep blue as well.  Not too bad.  Bit casual though, let’s see if there’s anything by way of colour for non-casual occasions (work, going out etc)…

Oh just, no.

Ugly print, again with the dark/muted colours, looks like something my Grandma would love.  I’m a successful woman in the prime of my life who loves fashion, has a career and a full social life.  I do not want to dress like my Grandma.

What about a frock?  Frocks are much more likely to work for a wider age group, and are more likely to have a bit of fashion about them, let’s try the frocks…

Oh look. Black. Grey. Beige. I think I need some No-Doze.

Can you see why I am depressed?  Everything is so bland, so boring, so OLD.

So I went back to the straight sizes.  I want to know, where are these clothes for me?  I mean look at this:

I would wear the hell out of these print pants!

Where are the fabulous prints and bold colours for plus sizes?  Wear are the funky separates to mix and match for women like me?

I want this shirt.  Exactly like this, in a size 26 to fit me.  I don’t want a version with a hanky hem and weird sleeves added to “flatter” my arms, I don’t want it in muted colours, I don’t want it in some kind of nanna print.  I want it just like this, but bigger.

Piping Hot Activewear

See all this casual/activewear?  I want a whole bunch of that in my size too.  In these colours and prints.  Target hardly even have activewear for plus-sizes, it’s like four or five pieces, all as dull as dishwater.

T-shirts anyone?

Look at all these t-shirts.  In a rainbow of colours, with a bunch of variations in sleeve and neckline.  Where are these for plus-sizes?  Why do we only get muted colours, and the only variations we see in design are those that I like to call “fat lady uniform” – shark bite or hanky hems, weird sleeves, ugly prints like that purple shirt above or with “bling” on the bust.  All things that are supposed to “flatter” but just mark us as “different”.

Prefer prints?

Want prints?  Look at that – all on trend styles, colours and prints.  Acres of them.  But not for the fatties, no, you can’t have cute, fashionable pieces like this!

What about the young women?  Let’s have a look what is on offer for them in straight sizes:

Where are these clothes for the young plus-size customer?  In fact, not just the young ones – I’d wear a few of these things myself if they came in my size.  That stripey shirt with the pink sleeves on the right is AWESOME, as is the rainbow leopard print top there.  Nope, fatties can’t have anything funky and fun like this.

What about something a little more dressy?  A little more suitable for work or a night out?

Yet another garment I would love, exactly as it is, no changes to style or shape, except sized to fit me.  But no, instead I get those bland things pictured above.

Or this one:

Seriously cute!

I would absolutely kill for this dress, exactly like this, in my size.  I would rock the hell out of it, people would say “Cute dress, where did you get it?” and I’d reply proudly “I bought it at Target, isn’t it awesome?”

It is so disheartening, so depressing to see that straight sizes have all these fabulous choices, and yet we plus-sized women get this tiny section of frumpy, unfashionable, boring clothes.

Look, don’t get me wrong, some women want dark colours and conservative styles.  Hell my Grandma needs clothes as much as I do, I don’t want Target to get rid of the selection they have.  But I want them to treat me the same as they do their straight size customers.  They’re doing FANTASTIC fashion for straight sizes at the moment.  All these great things I’ve posted here are just a tiny drop in the ocean of choice they offer in size 8-18.  There’s something for every taste and style in their straight sizes – they have acres of it in my local store.  And it’s well priced, well made and readily available to most Australians.

But I’m tired of being treated like I’m not worth the same amount of choice and quality as the rest of their customers.  I’ve talked before about the power of fashion, about how it’s more than just putting on a pretty outfit, about fashion.  It’s about being part of society, and about being able to participate with your peers.  And yes, as a fat woman, not-fat women ARE my peers.  We are just as valuable and worthy as any not-fat woman.  Our money is just as worthy as any not-fat woman.  Our requirements for clothing and style are just as worthy as any not-fat woman.  We have as much right to participate in society as any not-fat woman.

So why am I not offered the same options, the same range, the same products as not-fat women?  In fact, when Target’s own company website says in their “about us” section, and I quote:

Target Australia is a mid-market department store renowned for delivering to its customers great quality and great value apparel and homewares. As one of Australia’s most successful retailers our aim is to make stylish living affordable and available to all Australians.

Now the last time I looked, I’m an Australian… so why is stylish living not available to me and other women like me?  If you look at the straight sized options in the photos above, and then those in plus-sizes, do you think we’re being offered the same “stylish living” as their straight sized customers?  If you don’t believe me just from these photos, go to their online store and look at what is offered to straight sized women, compared to the Moda range.

I’m tired of excuses.  I’m tired of being told that fashionable clothes “don’t sell” in plus-sizes.  Of course they don’t, when they’re shoved on the back side of the shop floor like you’re ashamed of them, never marketed properly and of course, are never there.  Perhaps instead of blaming the market, perhaps it’s time to look at how you’re approaching it.  Perhaps it’s time to make a splash and say “Check out our hot new clothes for plus-sizes!  Shop your heart out, you deserve nice things too!” and watch just how things change with what sells and what doesn’t.  How about looking at how you market to plus-sized women, and instead of selling them “flattering”, sell them fun, sell them fashion, sell them empowerment.

You worry about providing fab clothes for plus-sizes, and let us worry about making sure fat women feel confident and strong enough to wear them.  I’ll promote the hell out of you if you do, and encourage every fat woman I know to get themselves into your gear.  You have my word on that.

Interview: Rene Rice of Flying Pig Apparel

Published June 3, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Recently I was contacted by Rene Rice of Flying Pig Apparel, a startup plus-size activewear business, and I got excited.  Really excited.  Because I’m incredibly frustrated at the dearth of activewear available for fat women.  Especially since there is an assumption that we’re all sedentary and lazy, and the constant calls of “Just move your arse fatty!”  I’ve really struggled to find suitable clothing to ride my bike in, and even worse to find clothes to do yoga in. 

I asked Rene if I could interview her for Fat Heffalump, as I think it’s really important to support a business that is finally going to start catering to all fat bodies, and particularly one that is run by people who know what it’s like to live in a fat body.  I know I’m going to be supporting this project, and I hope you all will too.

For starters, will you introduce yourself Rene?

Rene Rice is a 20-something from Albany, Oregon.  She’s been sewing for herself and others since the age of 5, and has made things as diverse as a corduroy couch cover to a fuchsia wedding dress.  Short, wide and voluptuous, Rene has had a love/hate relationship with all things active.  She loves being outside, camping, hiking, and even horseback riding.  She hated P.E. and still isn’t a huge fan of competitive sports.  Right now she’s obsessed with her latest project, Flying Pig Apparel, a small line of active wear for plus size women.  She’s more than happy to talk to anyone about it, it’s getting her to shut up that’s the trick.  🙂

What made you decide to go into business producing activewear for plus-sizes?

It actually happened kind of spontaneously.  I began my self-acceptance and Health at Every Size journey late in 2011, and joined my local YMCA at the beginning of 2012.  I rapidly realized that I didn’t have anything appropriate to work out in that wasn’t stained or worn to bits.  I tried searching for active wear to fit me online (because I knew full well that my local stores didn’t have anything) and was shocked and annoyed that I could only find ONE company that made work out pants large enough to fit me.  And despite hearing several glowing reviews of the quality of their products, I was simply unable to pay their high prices.

Thankfully I’m a skilled seamstress, so in place of spending $80 for a single pair of yoga-type pants, I purchased some fabric and made my own.  I also bought some fabric to make a few cute work out tops after seeing another plus size woman rocking hot pink leopard print top in a zumba class at the gym.  Bobby, Barb, and Audre had all seen me in one of the tops, and we got to talking about our frustrations with clothing in general.  Someone made an offhand comment that we should just take over the world and I replied, “Well, maybe not the whole world, but we could probably manage the fashion world.”  I spent about two weeks feverishly doing research on the plus size active wear situation and also searching for wholesale suppliers of fabric and notions.  I also randomly heard about Kickstarter during that time.

From there, things have just fallen into place in really amazing ways.  I was given a serger, which made producing our sample garments much easier than it was for me to make those original pieces.  Then one of us had a bit of a windfall, which allowed us to purchase the fabric, and a few parts for the free serger.  And it seemed like every time one of us turned around, we’d end up in a conversation with a friend, a neighbor, or a random person on the street who expressed how much they loved our ideas.

What size ranges are you planning on offering with Flying Pig Apparel?

Want to know something wonderful?  All of our garments will be available in any size, no limits.  Two of the things we’re purchasing with our start up funds are pattern drafting and grading software and a large format printer.  Basically that will allow us to take any customer’s measurements, plug them in, and within a matter of minutes have a pattern that will fit them, regardless of whether they have a 27 inch waist or a 72 inch waist or larger.

I can’t even describe how discouraging it was for me, back in January, to be searching for active wear.  Each time I’d check the size chart, regardless of whether their top size was a 2X or a 6X, the largest hip measurement was in the 55-60 inch range which put me a little bit over.  It sends a strong message that larger people should not exercise.  We don’t want lack of adequate clothing to be a barrier for anyone trying to get active.

Where did you come up with the name?

We were all brainstorming ideas for a name for the business.  I knew I wanted to play with words.  I played with acronyms of fat for a while, but I heard someone use the phrase “when pigs fly” and it just clicked.  And just to be clear, we’re not calling ourselves or our customers pigs, not even cute flying pigs.  We’re saying the proverbial pigs are flying, so now what?  We’re giving ourselves permission to go out and do all of those ‘impossible’ things we’ve always wanted to do.  Starting a business is one of them for us.

Tell us about the Flying Pig team?  Is it just you or do you have others you work with?

Oh, if it were just me, rest assured that Flying Pig Apparel would have never come to be.  I’m incredibly thankful to be surrounded by a group of friends whose strengths compliment my own.  I don’t have much business sense, but thankfully Bobby knows all about running a business and has done it before.  I’m a reluctant newcomer to social media, but thankfully Audre has stepped into that role beautifully.  And thankfully Barb is here to take on the marketing and shipping duties… silly me, I was pricing boxes for shipping things in!  *chuckles*  I get to be the spokesperson right now, but as soon as I’ve got some sewing to do I’ll happily go back and hide in my sewing room and let one of the others do the talking. 🙂

You have a basic range – do you plan to expand that in the future?

Absolutely!  We’re starting with this basic range of active wear for two reasons: we felt it was the biggest gap in the things available to plus size women right now, and the logistics of manufacturing them was the easiest to arrange.  We’ve got a lot of ideas of things we’d like to develop, and we’re still working out a strategic plan for when and how to introduce those items.  I can tell you that we’ll be working on expanding our active wear line first, bringing some more sport-specific and high performance options.  For example, we’ll be working on bicycle shorts/leggings as soon as I get my hands on the pattern drafting software.  I’d also like to offer a complete men’s line as well.  Oh, and sports bras!  I think we can make better sports bras, and I think we can make the high quality ones more affordable for lower income women.

But we’re not stopping at active wear.  I’m also passionate about ensuring that all women have access to the wardrobe basics that can be so difficult to find.  I’ve worked in retail and restaurants for 10 years, and there’s never been a year that I have not struggled to find a pair of basic black slacks.  I’ll admit, I’m picky, but I know what looks good on my figure.  I don’t want an elastic waistband.  I don’t want pleats.  I NEED pockets.  Other things like basic white or black button down shirts or polo shirts are important too.  And they need to be high quality but affordable.  After that, the sky is the limit.  We’ve got ideas crowding our brains across all categories of clothing, from undies to formals.

When do you plan to have your store open for business?

We hope to have our retail website up and running by mid-August, September at the latest.

Are you only marketing to HAES practitioners or size acceptance peeps?

No, we’re welcoming of all women of size (and men too, though we don’t have any men’s products just yet) and so we’re taking a diet-neutral stance.  We won’t accept any body shaming or diet talk on our blog, but on the other hand we’re not going to engage in bashing dieters either.  I don’t personally agree with dieting, but I still think those who have chosen that route are deserve the option of nice looking active wear.  On the blog, I talk about the four healthy habits that are proven to lower the risk of mortality across all weight ranges: avoiding smoking, moderate drinking, eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and getting exercise 3 days a week.  Regardless of what your goals are, those are healthy choices to make, and we’ll encourage those habits in our readers and customers.

How can people support you in your startup of Flying Pig Apparel?

First check us out at flyingpigapparel.wordpress.com.  We have photos of our samples posted and more information about our vision and values there.  We’ll be running a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds we need to start the business as well as make the first 250-ish items.  As soon as the Kickstarter campaign starts, we’ll post a link on our blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter, so make sure you’re connected with us.  I won’t go through all the rewards, but if you contribute at the $50 level you get your choice of one of the tops, and if you contribute at the $100 level you’ll get a full outfit.  Shipping is included in that amount.  So think of it as pre-ordering.  Can’t afford that much right now?  You can back us for as little as $1, and every dollar counts. (Note: The Kickstarter page is up!  Click here!)

Can’t pledge your support?  You can still help us out.  Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or follow our blog and share it with your family and friends.  The more people that hear about us, the better our chances of meeting our goals.  Kickstarter works on an all-or-nothing principal, so if we don’t receive enough pledges we don’t receive any of the money.

Product Review: Simply Be

Published May 23, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Recently I was contacted by Simply Be, a UK plus-size clothing retailer to ask if I’d like to review some of their product here on Fat Heffalump.  Always keen to try out new plus-size options on the market and share whether they’re any good, I said yes!

They sent me two dresses out of a selection of pieces that I liked the look of on their website.  The first was this cute teal skater dress, from the Angels and Ribbons label:

I teamed mine with pale blue tights from We Love Colors, the grey suede booties that Autograph Fashion gave me after wearing them in the Women’s Weekly fashion shoot, and a pair of cute long earrings in an antique gold look with pale blue “stones” that I’ve had for ages.  The first thing that I noticed about this dress was the fabric.  It’s thick, soft and solid.  It looks like it will last for ages.  The dress is actually more teal than this photo shows.  It is well made, has good facing around the neckline to make it sit nicely and has lots of shape cut into it with that kind of princess style around the bust.  I can see myself wearing it with pants or leggings as well as tights.  It is definitely a winter dress for here in Brisbane though – I think I’d swelter in it during our summer.

They also sent me this Angel Sleeve Jersey Tunic dress, which has a really cute floral:

Excuse the very dorky photograph of me!  I teamed this one with a cardigan from Target Australia, We Love Colors leggings and my Autograph black riding boots.  Oh and some big old earrings I have from Diva I think.

This dress isn’t made of as high grade fabric as the skater dress, but it’s such a fab print, bright and colourful and something that could be mixed and matched with all colours and shapes.  It’s very soft on, and has the prettiest fluttery sleeves (sadly which are covered by my cardie).  I think I’ll wear this one a lot.  I’m not sure it will last as long as the teal one though.

They stock from size 12UK – 32UK.  In both cases, I got a UK32 in size, which fit me generously and I’m normally a size 26AU.

I found quite a few garments on the website that I really liked.  They also stock Anna Scholz and Zandra Rhodes among other labels.

The only disappointing thing is, it doesn’t seem that Simply Be ship to Australia.  But they have affiliate sites for the US and Europe.

Anyone else had experience with Simply Be?  Share in the comments!

These Boots Were Made for Fatshion – Boot Review

Published March 20, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Hey hey!  I know, I’m not blogging as much as usual, but with the new library project I’m working on coming to fruition next week (shiny new library, so close to opening it!) and the fact that I have to move house in the next month to six weeks, the old energy levels are low.  But I’m back here with you tonight to do another of my blog reviews, since Autograph Fashion were so kind as to send me two pairs of their new season boots.  Plus I know you all love some outfit posts right?

So, remember last year when I bought the tall riding boots in brown from Autograph and I was SOOOOOO excited because it was the first time in my 38.5 years of life that I could find tall boots to fit my fat calves?  I wore those puppies until the soles wore through.  I still reckon I should just go and get them resoled, as the rest of the boot is just fine.  They also sent me the brown buckle boots, which I love even more and wore right through summer, and will continue to wear this year right through again.

Anyway, Autograph sent me through two pairs of their new season boots to review – the black tall riding boots and the tan suede ankle boots.

First the black riding boots, check ’em out:

I like bright colours, what can I say?

Autograph got a lot of feedback last year that the soles of the tall riding boots weren’t the best of quality.  I did wear mine out, but I also wore them a LOT when I first got them, so I wasn’t sure if it was the quality or the frequency of wear.  But this year they have apparently improved the construction of the boot, reinforcing the sole.  It certainly feels sturdier than those on the brown ones.  I also like the addition of the buckle detail, it just gives them a bit more detail than last year’s boots.  Now I have 19″ calves (48cm for metric) and they fit me well, with room to spare.  I can actually slide my arm down inside the back of them.  So those of you with plus-sized calves – these are going to fit you, I promise.  The price is $99.99, which is actually at the lower end of the boot scale.  CityChic are offering a very similar thing (though there was some debate about how much leather is in each pair) for double the price.  I haven’t found any other wide calf boots anywhere else in Australia to compare the prices with.  Regular calf size boots in places like Payless or Target are about the same price as far as I can see.

There was a question on one of the Autograph Fashion Facebook page threads about whether or not “big women would want to wear chunky boots – they wouldn’t be very flattering” (paraphrased).  Well, here I am at a size 26 in the boots:

Dress and boots: Autograph Fashion
Leggings: We Love Colors in "Scarlet" - yes, they are hot pink!

Dress and boots: Autograph Fashion (my favourite black dress ever.)
Tights: We Love Colors lycra blend in "mint"
Flower brooch: Sussan

Y’all know I don’t care about flattering, but seriously – these add NO bulk to my legs at all.  They fit all the way up close to the contours of my leg.  Don’t believe me?  I wore them again today:

See, even goofing off for the camera they’re still firm and close to the contours of my leg.  Folks – don’t let the fashion “rules” stop you from wearing the things you love – just work them into your wardrobe however you like, and rock the hell out of them!

Oh wait, here’s a detail shot of them with my mint green tights from We Love Colors:

Mmm… minty!

Now, onto the tan ankle boots.  I’ve been holding off on this post for the past two weeks for one reason – the ankle boots are faux suede and I needed a non-rainy day to wear them… and we haven’t had one in WEEKS!  I don’t want to ruin them by getting them wet or muddy, and I don’t think even water proofing treatment could protect them in the current squelchy weather we’ve had here in Brisbane.

So tonight I came home and whacked them on my feet with the mint tights and took some photos indoors, and walked around with them on for an hour or so.  Here, have a look:

I tell you what, it’s REALLY hard to photograph your own feet from the side.  I wanted to show off the heel and snub-toe shape of these cute boots:

I wasn’t really successful, was I?  Let’s try another angle:

Well, you get the idea right?  They are very cute, a great colour and style, and they would fit a wide foot really well (I have a standard width size 10 foot and there is width to spare in them) and very comfortable.  The only real criticism of them is that heel.  It’s super tiny and I did feel quite teetery on them.  Other fat women might be more successful with them than I, but I wonder if they’re going to be strong enough to support this fatty.  But I’ll have to wear them out and about a bit to get a real indication of how they’ll hold up – if it ever stops raining!  I also think they’re going to crease up a fair bit with wear (you can see the beginnings already) but I personally like that kind of body-formed look.  I know other people hate it though.  These are $89.99, which I wouldn’t pay, because I don’t need wide fitting shoes and can buy ankle boots anywhere and have them fit me.  But if you’re struggling to find boots to fit you, these might be the ticket for you.

So – how do you feel about wearing boots?  Those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, I know you’re on the downward run out of the cold months now, did you wear boots much over the winter?  And my fellow Southern Hemisphere buds – are you looking for boots for winter?  If so, what kind are you looking for and have you found any fab ones that fit fatties?

*Again, these boots were gifted to me by Autograph Fashion but all opinions are my own and not influenced by the gift.

Thoughts on Being “Othered”.

Published February 28, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

A few days ago I was writing an email to a friend of mine about fat, fashion and marginalisation, and while I was doing so, quite a few things kind of went “Ping!” in my head, and I realised I wanted to expand upon the subject in a general sense here on my blog.  We were talking about how many fat women feel about clothing and fashion, and the desperation so many of us feel when trying to find clothes that fit us, suit our lives, we like, make us feel good, and that are fashionable.

Those of us who engage in fatshion, the act of dressing/styling ourselves with pride and personal expression as fat women are outside of the acceptable cultural meme for fat women.  Fat women are expected to constantly be expressing their shame at having a fat body and doing everything they can to hide those fat bodies.  Regardless of whether or not that suits our lives, our needs or our personalities.

That’s the thing with inhabiting a fat body.  People see you as just that – a fat body.  They don’t attribute anything else to you, like a career or family, hobbies or convictions, let alone sense of humour, or intellect, or talent, or kindness and caring, or passion, or dedication… the list goes on.  The world sees you as FAT.  It’s the first thing people use to describe you, even if you have other more noticeable traits.  In my own personal case, my fat even trumps my candy coloured hair and tattoos as the most noticeable thing about me.  People notice that I am fat, before they notice a single other thing about me.

But of course, if you identify as fat and actually own this quality about yourself that the world constantly reminds you of, then the vitriol intensifies.  How DARE any woman not be ashamed of being fat.  She must be reminded that she is of lesser value, she must be brought down to the level that she belongs.

Clothing, indeed fashion, is one of the ways that society does that.  By restricting the options to fat women, it is another reminder that we are other.  That we don’t deserve the same things as “normal” people.  It serves to make us look even more different to general society, and then of course it is very effective in making us FEEL different to general society.

Having access to clothes that are fashionable and on a par with general society is both empowering and deeply emotional.  Because it takes away that demarcation of being socially other, and brings fat women to a point of being able to not just dress like, but BE peers to others in society.

I’m old enough to span a few decades of awareness of clothing and fashion.  I remember what it was like in the 80’s to try to find clothes to fit my fat body.  It was agonising.  So as a consequence, I spent most of my teens through to my early 30’s hiding.  Hiding in black, navy, burgundy.  Hiding in shapeless boxes.  No personal expression, no style, no fashion.  I never got to engage in fashion as a social event, so I was distanced from other girls/young women.  Therefore I never felt I could be friends with girls/women – and consequently only had male friends until my 30’s.  Of course, I didn’t know back then that this was institutionalised misogyny – teaching me that if I couldn’t “compete” with my peers, I couldn’t participate with them.

See how this shit works to push fat women further and further down the cultural hierarchy?

Then it came to work, and I couldn’t find clothes that matched those that my professional peers were wearing.  Instead, more shapeless, sloppy, dark sacks – which in turn made others (and myself) believe that I was less capable, less committed, less able than my thin peers.  After all, if you can’t dress yourself confidently, surely you can’t do anything else confidently right?

It just keeps going on and on and on.

I’ve also been the fattest person at the lunch table while everyone else talks about how disgusting their own, much thinner bodies are.  That’s always a special feeling.  I’ve been the one that the person with the fucked up food obsession uses for thinspiration.  I can’t tell you how it feels to have someone in a position of power use you as their metaphorical piggy-on-the-refrigerator, stalking your every move around food… and because they’re in a position of power, you can’t say “Fuck off.” or if you say anything to anyone else you get told you’re imagining it or over-sensitive.

I understand.  I know how it feels.  I live it every day of my damn life.

My only way of coping is to take it on and try to change the world.  I did 35 years of trying to change me to fit the world, and it didn’t work – it almost killed me.  Now I intend to devote the rest of my life to changing the world to fit everyone.  After all, the world is a big diverse place, there is room in it for all of us, no matter who we are, what we look like or what our lives are.  And we fat people have as much right to it as anyone else.

Chub Republic Brisbane Presents – Wardrobe Revamp: Fab Fatty Clothing Swap!

Published February 27, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

I promised you I’d be back with more information on our fab fatty clothing swap for Brisbane peeps.  Check out our super cute flyer:

Here is a downloadable version (pdf) if you want to put one up somewhere that you know other fab Brisbane fatties will see it.  Spread the word my lovelies!

I really hope that we can get lots of you there – the more folks we have, the more variety of clothes we’ll have to swap.  I know I’m bringing some clothes to swap that are brand new (some with the tags still on them), from Torrid, Autograph, Asos Curve, Yours, Evans, Lane Bryant… that are just longing for a fab fatty to love them.  Some of them I wish I didn’t have to part with, they just don’t fit me.

If you can come along, here is the Facebook event for it, or email us at the email address on the flyer above.  Please RSVP so that we can get a good headcount of all of you for organisational purposes.

Also, we’ve started a Brisbane chapter of Chub Republic (founding chapter is in Melbourne).  We have a Twitter, a Tumblr, and a Facebook.

I’m so excited to be part of all of this, I think it’s going to be AWESOME!

Fab Fat Fashion Feedback Session

Published February 20, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

I am a very lucky fatty.  I do know that.  I was invited again by Autograph Fashion to spend some time in my local store reviewing their new product lines and giving them some feedback.  Of course I leapt at the chance – what’s more fun than trying on clothes and playing with fashion?  Not to mention getting to share them with you all once I have too.

The kind folks at Autograph gave me a list of garments they wanted me to try on, and then let me go nuts with whatever else in store interested me.

I tried on a LOT of stuff.  I lost count with how many.  We didn’t photograph all of them, but here are the ones we did.  The first item they asked me to try on was this half sleeve foil print top.  I knew before I even put it on that it wasn’t my cup of tea, but the girls gave me a pair of jeggings (also not my cup of tea) and I had a go anyway:

Definitely not me.  I’m not one for slogans or anything on tops, and I wear almost no t-shirts at all.  It was made of a really soft fabric though.  The same goes for the jeggings – well made and a nice fabric, but not my cup of tea.  I felt really naff and uncomfortable in this outfit.

I then went on to try a floral print button through top that I had been eyeing off online for a bit.  I love a floral print, and anything loose and breezy has my vote in summer:

I found it super cute, but it just didn’t fit me at all.  It was kind of loose around the armpits, but sat weird on my hips and tummy.  A pity, because I just love that print.

Another outfit that the folks at Autograph asked me to try were the snakeskin print leggings and this frill hem voile tunic.

This top fit WAY better, but I wasn’t fussed on that hemline – it just hung all weird.  It’s a gorgeous colour though and a lovely soft, cool fabric.  But I can’t tell you how much I love those leggings.  They’re awesome!  Soft and comfortable and breath well, and y’all know how I love snakeskin print.  Those went on the “Yes” pile straight away.

I also tried on this black shirt:

It wasn’t really my cup of tea – it’s a bit plain for me.  But again, another great fabric, and if you’re looking for a wardrobe basic, it would be a good one.

Then it was time to try on some dresses.  This one jumped out at me straight away because of it’s blue print – blue is one of my favourite colours to wear:

But sadly, it didn’t work.  It looked frumpy and bland once I put it on, and the slip underneath was actually longer than the dress.  It’s a pity because I do love blue.

The ladies in store asked me to try this mono print one on, as they wanted to see it on a body rather than just on the hanger.  The print didn’t appeal to me at all (a bit old lady feeling for me) on the hanger, but it was better when I put it on:

It hung really nicely and was beautifully soft as well.  I think if it had been a different print I would like it a lot more.

Another one of the garments the Autograph folk asked me to try was this peplum dress:

I love it!  I love it!  I love it!  I’m going to change the belt up for one in red or bright yellow, to bring some colour into it.  I would LOVE one in the same blue as the top on the wall behind me in this photo, and I’d wear that with a yellow belt too.  Or red would be awesome.  Or purple.  I put this one on the “Yes” pile even though I have a dozen plain black dresses.   It’s such a cute style.

There was also this zip detail dress, which I really liked on the hanger:

I really liked the look of it, but it just wouldn’t sit right on me.  I think I would spend all my time adjusting it – and you know how annoying that is.  But I love the style and the print.

Now you know I’m not so much of a corporate wear kind of woman, but I thought I would give this dress a try (no longer on website):

How cute is that dress??  I love the just on the knee length, and the splash of colour in the top half.  It’s made of a beautiful weighty knit in the skirt and a light viscose in the bodice.  Since the dress was such a hit, I thought I would try a couple more of the garments from the workwear range.  There was this lace print tunic:

Love it.  I think I will go back for this one.  I love the soft peach colour and the pretty lace print.  I wear a lot of tunics and leggings, so this one would integrate into my wardrobe just nicely.

I also tried on this fluttery bow print top, and liked it so  much, it came home with me!  I wore it to work today, check out how I wore it:

Yes, I did have a hair cut over the weekend!

And this apricot spot top (with grey maxi skirt):

Despite the squinchy face I’m pulling, I really did like it.  I may also go back for that maxi skirt, I love that it’s straight through, no tiers or frills or fuss.

Leaving the skirt on, I tried this pretty floral top:

Which I really did love (I’m a sucker for a floral), and this gather neck print top:

Which didn’t quite work for me, though I love the colours in it.  Looking at that maxi skirt again, I REALLY like it.  I think I’m going to have to invest in that one!

Finally, I tried on a few more tops, from this rust coloured stripe top:

Which to be honest, I didn’t feel at all comfortable in – you can probably tell by the photograph!  I don’t really do t-shirts, but this colour and the stripe really called my name.

Then to this red and grey top:

Which really didn’t work for me at all (it felt like a pajama top) and finally, to this striped top with pockets:

Which I absolutely loved to bits, so much that it also came home with me!  It’s so soft and comfy and I love the pockets.  I am such a sucker for stripes too.

Finally, there was this awesome zigzag print tunic, which also came home with me, and I wore it to work on Friday (pre hair cut!).  Check it out:

I think that’s my favourite piece of the whole day.

There were a WHOLE lot of other things I did try on, but for several reasons they were rejected.  Some were just sold out in my size, some didn’t quite fit, some I didn’t like the fabric and some just weren’t my taste at all.

But overall I’m really impressed with how far Autograph have come in the past year or so.  I always find something I love, there is always something in on-trend colours, there is now some really good variety and mostly, it fits, even my size 26AU super fatty body.

1. In the interest of openness, Autograph Fashion gifted me 5 garments of my choice, but all opinions are my own and are not influenced by this gift.
2. Thanks to Lauren Gurrieri who took all of the in store shots for me.