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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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Kim P    Saturday 26 November 2016 at 16:28

 Post #487 



 
Subject: Re Kathy Gittins

 
I forget to add that the main plus size ranges appear to be Tomo and Vetono which go up to around a 26 I went into the Welshpool shop when I was in Shrewsbury and the staff were friendly and happy to select items they thought might be worth trying on. They do not sell on line but if there is a specfic item and size that you know you will definitely want to buy then they may send by post.

If anyone finds other retailers like this please share!

 

 Emma    Monday 28 November 2016 at 14:51

 
Hi Kim,

Lovely to hear from you - I hope that you are well. It's true: there does seem to be a tremendous dearth of plus-size shops in our area. I'm always glad to hear about more, so that we can spread the word here.

Online, a good seller of Tomo is a website called idaretobe.com. They have a certain quirky look across a number of ranges which is very popular with many people.

 

Kim P    Saturday 26 November 2016 at 16:21

 Post #486 



 
Subject: Retailers stocking plus size designer clothes

 
Still struggling to find a range of retailers who stock the kind of lovely items Emma did.

Aside from Beige in London, I have found Kathy Gittens to be a really nice shop. Unfortunately they are over in Wales so not convenient for most of the Emma Plus faithful!

They have a website which is not brilliant TBH but gives a flavour of what is stocked

 

Jonathan    Monday 10 October 2016 at 17:41

 Post #485 



 
Subject: So sad to see you go

 
Dear Emma

As a well established retailer of plus size fashion, EMMA and BEIGE have shared the same familiar brands for so many years - its almost unbelievable that you are leaving.

Your reputation across the suppliers that we shared was that of a true professional and your business was often cited as a great example of how to retail plus size fashion.

We are sad to see you leave the scene - as in so many ways you are so fundamentally a part of it.

We at BeigePlus wish you well for the future.

Best wishes
Leanda, Jonathan and the team
020 7935 3999

 

 Emma    Thursday 13 October 2016 at 08:05

Hi Leander,

Thank you for your kind words.

Regular customers of mine will already know about your lovely stores - Beige - not least because I've been telling them about them!

Going into a store - feeling gorgeous fabrics, seeing designer clothes, trying on different styles, having the pure shopping experience - should not just be the exclusive province of the tiny woman. Beige is now one of the few UK stores that remain that offers this experience for larger women.

If you appreciate this kind of thing, the best way to preserve it is to give it your custom.

I certainly wish Leander and Jonathan all the very best with their beautiful stores, and shall myself be visiting them to get my fix of plus-size fashion delight in future!
 

Kim P    Sunday 09 October 2016 at 14:35

 Post #484 



 
Subject: Anna Scholz Sample Sale

 
AS is having a sample sale on 1st November. Has anyone been to one before? I was wondering what it was like and whether the samples are in a range of sizes or just the smaller ones?

Any info greatly received!

 

 Emma    Thursday 13 October 2016 at 08:10

 
Hi Kim,

The best way to answer this question is to say that you should go!

These sales have been going for some years and are wildly popular!

Far from just supplying samples, they sell a huge variety of gorgeous Anna Scholz styles across her size range.

Get yourself a ticket and dash down to London -the Chandelier Building is very close to Neasden Junction railway station!

 

JENNIFER LUMER    Saturday 08 October 2016 at 21:08

 Post #483 



 
Subject: Good luck in future

 
Hi Emma
So sorry to hear you have had to close
Thank you for all your orders over the last years
I shall miss looking out for fabrics for you .
I wish you the best of luck and good health for the future

Love

Jennifer

 

 Emma    Thursday 13 October 2016 at 11:41

 
Hi Jennifer,

Thank you so much for your kind words -and for your gorgeous scarves and jackets, which we sold for so many years, and loved so much.

You were our last UK producer - everything else we sold came from Europe -and that was our downfall to a degree.

I do wish you all the best for the future.

BTW : have you ever thought of selling your delightful Jennifer Lumer items directly to the customers?

 

Emma    Sunday 02 October 2016 at 05:33

 Post #482 



 
Subject: Our Last Supper

Last night we all got together to celebrate the life of Emma Plus.

We remembered all the funny incidents, the lovely customers (and, dare I say it, some less than lovely ones), the fashion, the disasters, and the triumphs.

We drank a lot of champagne, and, in true Emma Plus style, finished the whole thing off with an enormous trifle!

Fabulous.

 

 Kim P    Thursday 06 October 2016 at 20:43

 
It is so lovely that you could all get together to celebrate all your hard work and success over the years. I hope everyone has managed to find new opportunities since the closure.

I also hope you can keep some kind of blog going Emma, you always have such a pulse on what is going on in Plus Size fashion. It would be great if we could all let each other know if we find any shops coming close to what Emma Plus offered in terms of fashion (not much chance I know!) if not service.

 

Emily Promodoro    Friday 30 September 2016 at 14:33

 Post #481 



 
Subject: The Plus Size Debate

 
So I'm really curious to know what people think about the plus size debate. Drop the plus or keep it? Especially thoughts after reading this the evolution of the term plus size article in Lifesize Magazine. A great piece that I really enjoyed. Should we drop the plus because of the segregation that it creates or should be celebrate the fact that the term brings a community of people together and that until all shops start selling larger clothes together, we need the 'label' to help plus size people find clothes more easily.

 

 Emma    Sunday 02 October 2016 at 05:26

 
This is a discussion that thinks it's about one thing, when it's really about something else!

Most larger women I know - working in the plus-size fashion industry for nearly 30 years, and being large myself, gives me some experience I believe - don't want to be segregated. Why should we be categorised, judged and stuck in one group? We are every bit as individual as every other woman on the planet - to say any different is illogical and highly prejudicial. It's an anachronism in this day and age!

However, when we are buying and selling clothes in a marketplace that heavily excludes us, we need to be able to find what is available. Without being able to type the words 'plus-size' into a search engine or site search facility, we would be condemned to hours of fruitless, depressing trawling around trying to find those elusive larger sizes!

To say that the problem of larger-size fashion is the term 'plus-size', is naive. It's attacking an (unfortunately) necessary tool that's essential to millions. It's ridiculous to attack a term when we are suffering from something infinitely worse - the complete dearth of clothing in our sizes! This is a huge and important problem!

When the clothes available to buy are produced in the correct sizes to suit the customer base, I will be glad to jettison the term with some relief, like a person rescued from the sea would throw aside their life jacket, hoping never to see it again. While I am forced to rely on this mechanism to keep my personal style afloat, however, I'm not going to get rid of it just yet.

And I will say one last thing. I believe that we larger women should stick together. I appreciate that it is often possible for the lower-end of the size range of plus-size women to get cross with the term and feel that they are free to militate against it because many online brands now go up to a size 20 as a matter of course. It's those women who are larger than this - and there are many far larger - who would really suffer if this term is jettisoned. So please think of your larger sisters before you bring the term into disrepute without replacing it with anything else.

 

Emma    Saturday 17 September 2016 at 16:24

 Post #480 



 
Subject: End of an Era

In less than a week, I will be closing the doors of Emma Plus for the very last time.

It will be emotional for me: I've already said on this forum that I have loved working here, and that it will be sad to go. I can't believe that I have been here for 26 years!

I hope that there is still a place for European designer fashion in this country-the plus-size clothing that we get on the high street has a tendency to be of a limited choice and generally poor quality. It often comes from half a world away, where employment conditions are very different.

I am a fan of European clothing. It is generally made by skilled, adult workers, who get paid a decent living wage, and who enjoy all the benefits that we ourselves would expect from our occupation. But one doesn't have to feel virtuous to buy it: we as consumers get the benefit of a superior product which lasts for years. I would hate to think that this is the kind of fashion that may be, at this very moment, disappearing from our high streets.

 

 Sue Nelson    Sunday 18 September 2016 at 18:10

 
So sad and so sorry for myself. I hope you are all able to move on to exciting chapters in your life. I do not know where my wardrobe would be without you over the past 20 years. Where shall I go next?

All my love and deepest thanks

 

 Kim P    Monday 19 September 2016 at 19:34

 
Hi ladies
I will come in tomorrow for one last time to say good bye. So you all been so good to me over the years.
Kim

 

 Emma    Tuesday 20 September 2016 at 10:22

 
Hi Kim,

It's Kim and I in tomorrow -and it would be lovely to see you one more time!

We will be doing normal opening times until Thursday, then on Friday and Saturday we will be around and about. After Saturday, the premises will revert back to the landlord.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow, Kim. ...xxx

 

 Kim P    Tuesday 20 September 2016 at 16:58

 
Hi Emma, I was in today so missed you! I am so sorry. I did see Kim which I was delighted about and Lisa popped in whilst I was there too which was super. I was lucky to be able to pick up some lovely items and a couple of box files! After you selecting those denim items for me on my last trip I have the denim bug again so picked up a couple of pair of jeans. I actually wore the Brand jeans which were my very first Emma Plus purchase today as a little tribute to the great quality clothes you sold in the store. It is so sad to not be able to shop with Emma Plus anymore. Hopefully we can arrange the December cultural visit to J you mentioned last time! Take care. Kim

 

Emma    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:18

 Post #479 



 
Subject: Closing Down

This is the saddest post imaginable: we are going to close down.

The trade in European designer fashions suffered a severe shock this summer, and the resulting tsunami hit Emma Plus in such a way that it has been fatally damaged-we have had to close down.

I have owned this shop for over 22 years, and I can honestly say that I have had the very best of times. I've loved the gorgeous fashion, I've loved the camaraderie of working with such wonderful colleagues, I've loved working in the North Laine area of Brighton-surely one of the best places in the country in which to have an independent business. But most of all, I have loved my lovely, gorgeous, stylish, generous, loyal and beautiful customers.

I really do wish you all the best, and hope that you will continue to find the glamourous, stylish and beautiful fashion that you deserve.

 

 Mary    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:20

 
I am so sorry to hear this news. I have loved coming to shop with you because you always knew your stock and gave us a wonderful shopping experience which I especially appreciated as shopping for clothes is often a very depressing experience for us bigger girls! I am particularly disappointed as my eldest son is getting married next July and I was relying on you to help me find something sensational to wear....

I will not be able to come and say goodbye as we will be on holiday in Malta but I wish you all the very best

Kind regards

Mary

 

 Sara    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:20

 
This is very sad news.
I have enjoyed my visits to Brighton to see you.
All the best for the future
Thank you for all your lovely clothes
Sara

 

 Gladys    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:21

 
Hello Emma and team,
How sad am I. Emma plus closing will be such a loss. What are we non-zero sized ladies who like fashion and curves going to do now. I'm not going back to Eastex and Evans :-( I would like to thank you for bringing so many wonderful styles and fun to fashion, it has always been a pleasure shopping with you and I would like to wish you the best of luck for the future.
Best wishes Gladys

 

 Finola    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:22

 
Oh no!!!!!
Emma we are so sorry to hear this. You have changed our lives and helped us both to feel and think differently about our bodies and what we wear. You've really helped to boost confidence and a whole lot more.. We're away at the moment so can't come to see you yet- not just to see what clothes there may be left but to give you all a huge hug and to commiserate with you. We still can't believe it.

If there's anything we can do to help please let us know.

Love

Finola and Liz xxxx (Worthing)

 

 Gill    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:23

 
Dear Emma,

Just wanted to say how much we are all going to miss coming to Emma Plus, and to say a big thank you to you and all your delightful colleagues who have provided myself and numerous customers over these years with such wonderful stylish clothes.
It was always a real pleasure to come to your shop because customers were always greeted by yourself or other members of your team with a genuine warm hearted welcome, followed by a cheery offer of a cup of tea/coffee or cold drink. It always felt as though I was popping in to friends for a cuppa and a chat while trying on some lovely clothes. Everyone was always attentive and helpful in searching something for me to wear, or suggesting I might like to try a different style or another colour other than blue, its thanks to you I now wear trousers!

I am going on holiday tomorrow returning on the 23rd, so unfortunately will not be able to come in to say goodbye.
I wish you and your colleagues good health, much happiness and joy for the future. Thank you once again for providing Brighton with such a special place to shop.

Kind regards,

Gill

 

 Jessamy    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:23

 
Such sad news. I only get to Brighton
now and again but love coming
to see your beautiful clothes.

I have a trip planned at the end of
October but I cannot get before.

Good luck with both your futures

Jessamy

 

 rosemary    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:25

 
Hi Emma

Well, that was a real curve ball! What an absolutely soul-destroying situation and you must be gutted at having to wind things up.

On a personal note, let me just say that you and the team have given me fantastic service and styling over the past 10 years – I really don’t know what I’m going to do without you.

I am not sure what I am doing Bank Holiday weekend, if I am going to be around, I will definitely let you know and pop in. I will try and get down before then, though, to say a proper goodbye.

Hope to see you soon.

xxx

Kind regards

 

 Sharon    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:28

 
Oh Emma, I'm so sad to hear that not just because you run an amazing shop, but because I know you're so passionate about the plus size fashion industry.

 

 Sue    Friday 09 September 2016 at 10:50

 
Dear Emma,

I am so sorry that you are closing after all this time......I can still remember when you worked there before you owned it!!! I have enjoyed very much being a customer, there was always a warm welcome at Emma Plus. You and all your staff have also always been helpful and caring, you will be sadly missed by your customers. I am in France at the moment, so I am sad that I won't be able to enjoy your closing down sale, but "c'est la vie".

I would like to wish you all the luck in the world for the future, wherever and whatever that holds for you.

All the best,

Sue x

 

 Alison    Friday 09 September 2016 at 17:58

 
So sorry to hear this, have really valued my trips to Brighton over the years. And how on earth can I be expected to buy trousers without Kim's advice?

Such a shame!

Wishing you all the best for the future

Alison

 

 susan    Saturday 10 September 2016 at 10:20

 
Dear Emma

I was so sorry to hear you are closing – but feel very fortunate that you have given us all the chance to purchase some beautiful clothes over the years – with your advice and that from your staff.

I hope to get over for one last visit before 22nd September.

With best wishes to you all for whatever the future holds from Susan

 

 Nicola    Saturday 10 September 2016 at 22:25

 
Emma

What can I say, I am likewise devastated to hear the news that you are closing down. After 20 years shopping at Emma Plus I have come to think of you all as friends and at this moment I am at a loss of what more to say.

Nicola

 

 Kim P    Sunday 11 September 2016 at 11:45

 
I can only echo the sentiments already posted. Such a shame it has come to an end but I'm sure it was not a decision that would be taken lightly. I really hope everyone manages to fix themselves up a new position somewhere. Very sad times.

 

 Kate    Monday 12 September 2016 at 10:05

 
Dear Emma, I am so very sorry to hear this news.  Although my move up to Lincolnshire has prevented my regular shopping trips, I will always remember them with great fondness.  You and your staff were always so very kind and helpful and I have been complimented many times on the clothes that I purchased from you. 

I wish you well in whatever challenge you decide to tackle next.

 

 Janet    Monday 12 September 2016 at 13:53

 
Dear Emma,

I can't tell you how sad I am. You have been my favourite shop for so many years and helped me out so many times when I have been uncertain as to what to buy. Indeed, when I was living in Sussex, it was like having a personal shopping team. You and your staff, with your excellent alterations service made clothes buying a pleasure. 

Of course, it hasn't been so easy to get to you since I moved to Suffolk. I know I managed a few visits in the early days but they have become more infrequent and I confess, I haven't found anywhere I like nearly as much here.

These are uncertain times and I wish you well in whatever venture you turn your hand to.

Do keep in touch, and if you are this way ( near Bury St Edmunds, another town which would benefit from a shop like yours)look me up. It would be lovely to see you.

All good wishes for the future.

 

 Annie    Monday 12 September 2016 at 13:55

 
Dear Emma

I can't tell you how sorry I am that you are finding it necessary to close the business that I know has been very close to your heart.

You were one of the last links I have with mum so you will be missed on her account as well as for the lovely outfits you have provided for me over many years.  I have to say that I don't know where I will go now for special occasion wear that will match your flare for design and colour.

with very fond regards

 

 Pam    Monday 12 September 2016 at 13:57

 
I'm so sorry to hear the shop's closing down. Such beautiful clothes and lovely staff.

Wishing you all good luck for the future.

Pam

Xx

 

 Julia    Monday 12 September 2016 at 13:58

 
Really sorry to read your news.  Its always been such a delight coming 

into your shop and being made to feel really special.

 

Good luck in the future to you and your colleagues

 

 

Julia

 

 Jenny    Monday 12 September 2016 at 13:59

 
That's really sad news- been great to find those special items and be treated as completely normal and in fact spoilt- an usual experience for us plus size ladies.

Whatever you do next, wish you much happiness and success - you will be missed

Jenny 

 

 Sid    Monday 12 September 2016 at 14:00

 
Hi Emma,

 

I was shocked and then saddened to read your email. I know I haven't been in as much of late as I've not had as much work and therefore less disposable to buy lovely clothes. I'm coming to Brighton next Tuesday for several reasons, so I'll pop in then. It's the end of an era though. Very sad news.

 

 

 Kathy    Saturday 17 September 2016 at 13:23

 
Hi
Passed the store Saturday night after the theatre. Saw the sign...
Don't know what to make of it...but I do know you have done so much for women like me Your style,courage and good advice.
Brighton will be a lesser place with out Emma plus As for me. You folks were a large part of my life for so long...
I still have some of the pieces I bought from you...

 

 Ronnie    Wednesday 21 September 2016 at 14:44

 
Emma,  I walked to work past your shop this morning and got a dreadful shock.  I am sorry to hear this devastating news, not only for me (woe is me, what am I going to do for trousers?) but for you and your team who have always been sooo understanding and compassionate and accommodating towards those of us with non-standard body shapes!!!  This is a catastrophe for you, us and for Brighton as a whole, frankly. I am going to miss you and your team in a chronic and fundamental way.  I don't know why this closure has happened, but is there any chance of you setting up somewhere else or starting a mail service?  And if so, would the services of Denisa still be available?  I literally don't know what I'll do with myself and my big fat bum otherwise!  Are you yourself bearing up-ish?  Thinking of you lots, Ronnie. 

 

 Janet Taylor    Wednesday 21 September 2016 at 22:28

 
Emma, I did send an email to you. Not sure if you got it but I am so sorry to hear your news. I have shopped with you for many years,as you know. Although my visits are less frequent since we have moved away I miss the wonderful selection and service you provided. You and all your staff have always been so helpful and your clothes made me feel so much more confident.Your alterations service was second to none.So disappointed but always hope your links with Suffolk will encourage you to open somewhere here in time!
All the best Janetxx

 

Angela Brown    Thursday 01 September 2016 at 16:55

 Post #478 



 
Subject: Closing

 
So sorry to hear you are closing. Hope everyone is ok. I will miss shopping in a fantastic shop with wonderfully helpful staff.

 
 

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