Archive | May, 2011
Plus Size dress (18) from Vida Moda

Will the fashion industry change its manufacturing methods to produce clothes that fit properly?

This is question has never been more relevant than today. The fashion industry is still largely focused on young and trendy consumers and that is what they put in the mainstream media. However people’s body shapes are changing and ultimately the fashion industry will have to change to meet demand from the marketplace. Whether or not we’ll see this change in the way media represents fashion remains to be seen.

Fashion retailers (along with the airline and automotive industries) have funded research into how body shapes are changing. Cornell University in the USA have been collecting anthropometric data by using body scanning to study variations in body size and unsurprisingly the results show wide variations.

Body Scan Image

(Image: Cornell Body Scan Research Group)

It has not been possible for the fashion industry in the past to base their designs or manufacturing processes on anthropometric data simply because it has been too time consuming and difficult to collect. This will probably be different in the future as technology improves, but it does depend on a number of factors.

    • Will people be prepared to have their body scanned to so that clothes can be made to fit properly?
    • Can designers apply their skills to different body forms and still satisfy their artistic desire?
    • Where does the cross over point between artistic intent and function?
    • Does artistic intent cease to matter when designers are faced with designing plus size clothes and does that result in clothes for plus size women that are poorly designed?
    • Can technology be used to create clothes on the fly that are specific to a persons size and shape? (automated tailoring)

Is the fashion industry going to change it’s philosophical approach to designing and producing clothes? Currently fashion houses design based on the target market they trying to reach, usually reflecting a lifestyle and price perspective. They then produce a model based on “regular” sizes, and you can be pretty sure this isn’t a plus size. They take their designs and scale them upwards and downwards to produce their garments in a range of standard sizes. Quite often this does not include plus or petite sizes. Why is this? Either because they don’t want to be associated with plus or petite sizes, those sizes aren’t their target market, OR the designs do not lend themselves to be being manufactured in plus or petite sizes. Designing clothes that work as a design statement across a wide range of sizes is a challenge for designers. Manufacturing variations brings its own cost challenges too.

Luckily there are designers out there today who do recognise the needs of their customers and do make beautiful clothes in plus sizes. They look beautiful and from a design perspective they work across a range of sizes, including plus sizes. They may not always make it to high street chains and they may be more boutique fashion but they are available. The internet is offering more choice if you are prepared to look and over time the internet will level the playing field and provide better choice for clothes that “fit and flatter” for plus size women. This is one of the things we are aiming to do with our online shop http://www.vidamoda.co.uk

However the time is coming where the growing variations in body shape and size will force the industry to change because “standards” won’t work any longer, people are demanding and indeed expecting to have a choice. Considerable variation is occurring in different countries but this is being balanced by emerging and growing markets that the fashion industry can tap into, but we do think things will eventually change.

What are your thoughts?

    1. Do you feel you have adequate choice for fit and size of clothes?
    2. Would you shop in a store that used body scanning and made clothes to fit your shape and size?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think :-)

Information in this post references and is informed by the following article from Cornell University http://www.bodyscan.human.cornell.edu/scene7354.html
Body scan image courtesy of Cornell Body Scan Research Group

Plus Size dress (18) from Vida Moda

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QR Quilt

Nancy Feve – Recombinant Art Quilts – an exhibition organised by Bonnie Cotier

Bonnie was an inspirational person and the exhibition detailed below is a fine example of how she used her skills to enrich and promote someone’s talent.

The content in this post is courtesy of @Lindsay_Abbott and Michelle French @designer_tweets who like Nancy were both close friends of Bonnie.

QR Quilt by Nancy Feve

Text by Lindsay
“The late Bonnie Cotier was struck by the patterns of QR Codes and encouraged her friend and colleague Nancy Feve, a quilt expert, to design a quilt that is a functional QR Code.

The quilts will be on show at Williams Art, 5 Dales Brewery, Gwydir Street, Cambridge on Tuesday 7 June 5pm-8pm. Tel: 01223 311687. http://www.williamsart.co.uk

Bonnie designed Nancy’s website and was helping Nancy to organise the event and act as media contact. Her friend and colleague, Michelle French, has stepped in on behalf of Bonnie to make sure that the event is a success.

Further information can be found here: Nancy Feve Quilts: http://www.fevequilts.com/news-media-coverage/

There is also a Twitter hashtag #fevequilts to follow Nancy’s work.

Michelle French: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/michellefrenchdesign

Text by Michelle
“Bonnie did an experiment with Cam Creative last year using QR Codes. At the time there were very few people in the group who were aware of them. I had become intrigued with them when the design firm in London, Moving Brands, presented a case study in a lecture at London College of Communication.

Bonnie and I both have backgrounds in sewing and the cultures of the Southeast US and I was very excited about the combination of low-tech, craft art with the high tech application. (“High Tech/High Touch” example for a John Naisbitt enthusiast.)

While the circumstances of my most recent involvement in pushing this show forward have been among the saddest of my life, I have been very glad to contribute.

Nancy is accepting commissions should you want your own QR code stitched into a quilt.”

Please make others aware of the exhibition and if you’re in Cambridge please go and view the exhibition.

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What inspired you today?

Last night I attended a local networking group Cam Creative to pay tribute to the memory of Bonnie Cotier who died in a tragic accident on April 23rd. In honour of Bonnie’s memory people were asked to tell the group about something amazing they had done recently or something that inspired them. Bonnie was highly regarded by the people in the various networking groups that she was member of and she was heavily involved in Cam Creative. I hadn’t yet got to know Bonnie really well but I had spoken to her often enough to realise she was a person that stood out because of her personality and her approach to life, business and people. She was a dynamic person who had a hand in many different projects some of which we heard about last night and clearly had an abundance of energy and enthusiasm to participate and contribute 100% to the projects she was involved in.

So those who wanted to, could stand up and say a few words about what had inspired them. Personally, I struggled with this, after some reflection I didn’t feel I could stand up and tell people about something obvious or spectacular that inspired me. I’ve worked very hard to achieve whatever amount of success I’ve had in life. But again I suspect that’s a common story for a lot of people, I’m just an ordinary person doing ordinary things.

However things have changed in the last 12 months or so and thinking back over that time I realised I stumbled across a source of inspiration I never expected to find. Its not loud and explosive, or in your face. Its rather quiet and subtle but it is insistent and nurturing. It played a big part in my decision to start a business 6 months ago. The business an online store selling plus size clothes to larger women. It’s very early days and it’s a risk, there’s no real telling at this point whether it will succeed or not. The point is, I had the idea to set up this business more than 12 years ago. I did nothing, instead I pursued a career in a discipline in a corporate environment which has gone well for me over the years. Despite being difficult it was still a “safe” option.

The question is why did I start my venture now and not 12 years ago? The answer is of course complex and like a lot of people I can easily come up with a list of why I didn’t start it years ago. Coming up with the list of reason why I started it now is less easy. One of the influencing factors is that I got involved in a local networking group, initially to learn more about social media but pretty soon my thoughts turned to my dormant business idea and I decided to give it a go. I was inspired by simply talking to the people around me at these groups. They are from all walks of life and are running all manner of businesses and I found their energy and positive vibe (often in the face of difficult trading conditions) very inspiring and it helped me get up and do something about my idea. Every time I go to one of these events I make some new contacts and I always come away with something new to apply to my fledgling business.

A number of people I’ve met in the networking group have helped me set up and their efforts are woven into the fabric of my venture and I’m grateful for their contribution. While I wasn’t lucky enough to work with Bonnie she certainly is an exemplar of the type of person I’m referring too and I know she provided inspiration to plenty of others as they sought to develop their business or idea. In fact if you want see how Bonnie inspired and helped someone else then please read the previous post on this blog about an exhibition that Bonnie was instrumental in organising in Cambridge starting on June 7th.

So if you are an entrepreneur starting up or are already well established take a good look around the people at the next networking event you attend. Seek out the ones that like Bonnie, might inspire you and help you do something amazing. They are out there and they will help. In return you may find you can also provide some inspiration to others.

Please add a comment telling us about people that have inspired you, or if you have a story about how Bonnie inspired you please feel free to share it here, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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The joy of thanks and the benefits it brings

Today was an interesting day for me. It culminated in four people recommending me on twitter for providing them with a small amount of knowledge in relation to something they had a problem with or were working on. It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise particularly as they all recommended me at almost the same time simply because I helped them out in a small way.

It really brought home to me what a wonderful thing social media can be. It is instantaneous and reactions flow freely, sometimes they are positive and sometimes negative. People who use social media in a positive way stand to benefit massively, and I think the benefit works in different ways. Obviously the recipient of a recommendation or thanks feels appreciated and you do get a glow from helping someone. Equally the person providing the recommendation feels good about making a positive recommendation about someone who has added value to their day. Both parties end up with a small enhancement to their online reputation because one is recognised as a contributor and the other is seen to publish a genuine recommendation. When that happens it’s very powerful.

For example it goes beyond the realms of #FollowFriday recommendations. It is not enough just to list people as #ff you need to give a reason for doing so, to add value both to the individual you are recommending and to yourself. I rarely do #FollowFridays but when I do them I do one per tweet and I give a clear reason why I’m recommending the individual, that’s what we do in real conversation isn’t it?

Consider how a #FollowFriday or #ff could play out in the physical world. The two physical equivalents of the myriad of #ff that we see could be

A: To go and stand in the middle of the road, like a town crier and yell “Follow Friday” at the top of your voice and then proceed to list the names of your top 20 twitter friends. Will anyone notice? perhaps not, other than to think you are a little odd. Will they whip a notebook and write down the names you’ve called out? I doubt it :-)

Or

B: You you could be at some social gathering or networking event in conversation with different people, at some point you are guaranteed to recommend someone you know who is good at something that might benefit one of the people you are talking to. Will they take listen and take note? I think so.

Which of the two approaches is more valuable?

I think B is more valuable, its personal, its well qualified and it is genuinely delivered. The beauty of it is that if you apply this approach properly it in the Twitter world lots of people will see it and possibly benefit from it as you may unwittingly provide them with some help. In turn both of your online reputations will certainly benefit from this as described above. In the physical world the people immediately impacted by the recommendation will benefit and word might spread some way but there is a time lag and the reach of the recommendation is short. Online it’s a different story, the spread of a good recommendation is instant and that potentially has more impact, it might not last as long but it will be visible to more people in a short time.

So readers perhaps you can think about how you recommend someone and give a clear reason, after all you want them to benefit, don’t you? If so it’s worth doing well and you will also be seen in a positive light.

So thanks to @hr_katherine @AnnHawkins @Lindsay_Abbott and @arillustrate for their kind words today and as a result being the inspiration for this post :-)

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Yay! We’re live

Finally, amazingly, we’ve taken a bold step forwards! We launched our online shop very quietly last week to make sure it worked and to see what a few trusted friends thought of it. The feedback has been quite good so this week is our official launch and we hope those of you that use it will enjoy shopping at http://www.vodamoda.co.uk

Vida Moda is an online store retailing designer plus size clothes for plus size women. “Vida Moda” means life fashion, it is about your life and your fashion.

Vida Moda Cool Linens

If you are a larger lady, if you embrace and celebrate your figure you can be more confident and happy, be who you are and enjoy life even more! We’ll help you do this through our store and this blog. We believe that you, the plus size woman should have a better set of fashion choices in the sizes you need. If you don’t believe us, have a look at our store, all our collections are photographed using plus size models. They are larger ladies just like a lot of you, and they look wonderful. We hope to bring you an interview or two with them in future posts on this blog.

We’ll also tell you more about us in coming posts and we hope to engage you in some debate as well as providing information on fashion along with styling suggestions. Undoubtedly we’ll also talk about life along the way!

Finally we strongly believe you have the right to a good customer experience, and that experience should not be negatively affected by your size or shape. You deserve to look good, and feel good and if we can help you do that in some small way then we’ll be happy!

And remember, we think it is the woman who makes the clothes look good! :-)

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