COVERSTORY: CATERING TO THE PLUS-SIZE AUDIENCE
Launched earlier this year, Coverstory may be only a few months old, but has made headlines for its tastefully curated selection of stylish garments and accessories for plus-size women – a term its founder Heidi Kan persistently refrains from using. Kan saw a void in the market for clothing options for curvy women, as witnessed particularly by her friends; the majority of clothing available was either too sexy or too matronly – nothing was modern and chic. After spending a year developing her idea, she put it into action in April, offering potential clients an eclectic mix of plus-size along with a number of up-and-coming brands – basically any brands or designers that share the same point of view as Coverstory. We sat down with Kan to discuss the plus-size industry, spreading her mission and expanding her business, and future plans.
What is your background and what prompted your decision to start Coverstory?
I’ve been working in the fashion industry on the manufacturing side for many years, producing straight size and plus size. So, I paid attention when my close friends, who are plus size, would complain that they couldn’t find anything to buy. Everything that is available is either too sexy or too matronly. There was nothing modern and chic on the market. That’s why I decided to start a curated contemporary e-commerce site.
What is the most important to you when buying for your shop?
Clean, modern, simple pieces that are timeless.
You also curate a “Girl Crush” section. Besides selling, what is your mission through Coverstory?
“Girl Crush” is a fun segment to spotlight strong, chic, and confident women that can teach us all a thing or two. They are inspiring to me, so I want to share their stories and their style.
I’ve read about your decision not to use the word “plus size.” What is it about it you feel sounds “wrong?”
I would never say that the word “plus-size” is “wrong.” To me, plus-size is a term created by the fashion industry to refer to a sizing and style category; it’s no different from junior, missy or contemporary… It’s a search word, a search engine tool. It was not a strategic decision to not use “plus-size” on the site. It happened organically, as I communicated with my customers. More than anything, my customers are people who love beautiful things.
Do you think that the US is more sensitive to this issue compared to Europe?
I think it’s about the same. I’ve heard the conversation on both sides of the pond.
When discussing plus-size, we tend to focus on women, but what about men? Do you think that they could be just as interested in fashionable clothing or are just looking something that fits?
2016 has been a huge year for the body diversity movement. The conversation has already expanded to include the opposite sex. IMG launched a men’s plus-size division and signed the first plus-size male model. So, yes, men want to look good, too, and it’s happening now.
Fashion industry is often accused of being pretentious. Do you think it will ever fully embrace plus-size?
Yes, it will. It has taken a while, but it’s happening.
According to the Business of Fashion, plus-size is a market currently in bloom. Do you think that a potential growth in sales could contribute to the industry promoting a healthy body image among the industry and consumers, as well?
I actually think that women on social media pushed the body image movement. There was no outlet before. That is one of the reasons that I added “Girl Crush” – to highlight the many women of style expressing themselves freely on different platforms and influencing the industry.
Where do you look to for expanding your business?
We are always looking out for new lines and new collaborations. We would love to develop our own label and to reach new customers with popup stores, but that’s all later down the road; Coverstory is still in its infancy. We will also start shipping internationally soon.
What are you currently working on and what are your future plans?
The ultimate goal for Coverstory is to expand into other categories including home goods and, eventually, evolve into a size-inclusive lifestyle brand.
Images © Coverstory