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Emma Hayes, the founder of Emma PlusWelcome to our open-access forum. Emma Plus, the noted plus-size fashion store, followed in the footsteps of two previous shops that had been at 16 Church Street, Brighton, UK. The first was opened in August 1987 by Jane Pascoe, and was called Opinions. It was one of the country's first designer plus-size womenswear shops, and in June 1990 it was taken over by a 13-strong chain of plus-size designer womenswear boutiques called Excelle, owned by Sue Martin. After two years the business folded and the store was taken over by a chain of five shops, going by the name of Pandora. The Church Street store was the only plus-size branch, and was called Pandora Plus – the whole enterprise being owned by Trish Conroy.

Then, on the 25th March 1994, the shop was taken over again... this time by Emma Hayes, who renamed this small but trail-blazing store 'Emma Plus'. This was the incarnation that lasted the longest. The store traded until the 25th August 2016, just one year short of thirty years since the very first ground-breaking plus-size designer fashion store opened.

The Emma Plus store is now history, and lives on only in the memories of those who experienced it and in this forum (and in the many lovely testimonials received from customers). We invite readers to talk fashion, discuss issues involving larger women, ask or share style or fit questions/insights, and generally hook up in the pursuit of the perfect look for larger women.

It's a friendly, non-judgemental, yet highly knowledgeable space – so please feel free to participate.

Emma

The famous Brighton Pavilion was just down the road from Emma Plus


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Susie Grant    Friday 23 October 2009 at 21:07

 Post #84 



 
Subject: Size

 
Just found your site - your clothes are fabulous but surely your models do not reflect the size of ladies that you are catering for.

 

 Emma    Saturday 24 October 2009 at 15:11

Hi Susie

Thank you for your post. You make an interesting point that I have always felt would arise on this forum sometime!

As with a lot of interesting questions, although on the surface the subject appears simple, it is in fact quite complicated.

The images that we have on our site fall into two groups. One comprises pictures that we or our customers have provided, and represents the clothes that we have had in our store. These photographs are mainly on our forum, and are usually of either happy shoppers wearing our outfits, or our own shop window mannequins modelling our styles. We have two mannequins, one of which is a size 20 and the other a size 24 (and so are at the lower end of our size range). However, by definition these images are of clothing in plus sizes.

The other set of images that we have on our website are those provided by our suppliers, and are posed on professional models. We have little influence over our suppliers in their choice of women sporting their looks. (It would not be practical for us to take our own photographs on models-we can only really do it on our mannequins.) If you have not already done so, it may be a good idea, at this point, to check out the pictures that are on our ‘Our Range’ pages. Believe it or not, these women (in the main) are considered to be ‘plus-size models’!

This is because the models for any particular size range are always far taller and slimmer than the average woman. Thus for ‘mainstream’ fashion, the models can be six feet tall and a size eight (surely no-one can deny that is a freak of nature). In the plus size range, the models would be size 16 or 18, six feet (or more) tall women. These plus size models often do not have a single scrap of extra flesh on their frame, and are perfectly proportioned.

I know that some doubt that these models are in fact a size 16 or 18 (they certainly look very slim). For most of the speciality plus-size ranges, however, I can personally vouch for the fact that these extraordinarily perfect looking women must actually be this size, because the clothes they wear in the photographs are. I have seen and checked over the sample clothes provided to the models, and I promise they are ‘plus size’. That is always supposing that you consider plus size to be 16 or 18.

Which leads us on to a whole other can of beans! I personally think it is ridiculous (and a scandal) that women who are size 16 or 18 are considered ‘plus size’. This is patent nonsense, because the average woman in Britain today is 5 feet 4 inches tall and a size 16. By definition, size 16 is average-sized, and in no way 'large'. In fact, taking the models' height into account, they are actually much slimmer than the norm. (You may have gathered by now that this is a bit of a hobby-horse of mine!)

This is, in a nutshell, where fashion and ‘real life’ collide. It could be argued that the fashion industry is at present living in cloud-cuckoo land. One day, I feel sure, larger women will be considered just another current in the mainstream. All we can do for now is to express ourselves as the women we are (beautiful and fashionable) and ask over and over again to be realistically represented in this industry.

So I applaud your question, and hope that you continue asking it of every fashion professional you encounter! I will certainly continue to bring this up with our suppliers, and - as I know for a fact that some of them read this forum - am very happy that you have raised it here!
 
 

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