Plus size fashion has never been this big than ever before. The body positive movement is using its voice to push for change, and they are being heard. Across the globe, clothing brands are finally noticing the demand for fashion equality, resulting to the much-awaited fashionable and trendy pieces that cater to the plus size demographic, and Asia is slowly following suit.
In the Philippines, Danah and Stacy Gutierrez have long aspired to create a clothing line that will redefine plus size fashion locally. Sick and tired of abstract prints, tacky colors and tent-like cuts, the 24-year old twin advocates have scouted for brands to partner with for their dream to materialize. They knew they needed help with the technicality of the retail clothing business. But just like any other pursuit of dreams, theirs came with a set of challenges and struggles that put them to the test.
“The first online retail brand that partnered with us took almost 2 years for the clothes to be produced. We kept going back and forth, but we just aren’t their priority despite their assured commitment to us. It surely was disheartening, especially when we’ve already released teasers for the collection,” Danah explained. Fast forward to 2014, the duo was contacted by another local plus size brand. Despite their camaraderie and chemistry with the team, their collection didn’t push through once again, and this time, it’s because of manpower issues. “The second brand that approached us were yuppies with big dreams for the plus size fashion scene. We already signed a contract, but a week after that, they told us the bad news that they were having problems with their seamstress,” Stacy recalled. But with the sisters’ strong-willed personalities, they didn’t give up. As they say, third time’s a charm.
It was in June of this year when Danah and Stacy were casually talking with a friend when they shared their struggles about creating their own fashion line. They were then referred to Tina Romack Lirag, the fashion designer and brand head of New Yorker, a fashion house in Manila, that was singlehandedly built by her grandmother back in 1935.
Just in time for their web magazine launch, Danah messaged Tina, asking if she would be gracious enough to sponsor them dresses for the launch party. Tina agreed, and she was able to produce dresses for the twins in 4 days. “I was so happy with the white, caped dress she made for me! She was like a fairy godmother, haha! I didn’t expect the dress to flatter me so much. People kept complimenting me during our launch night,” Danah eagerly shared.
As fate would have it, Tina has also just launched her Design Your Own Capsule Collection (DYOCC) services. “When once it was all about the designer’s idea, now clients, armed with design inspirations, are more hands-on in the process. When once Made-To-Order clothing was the norm, now ready-made clothes are just a click away. The merging of these two ideas resulted to our new arm called Design Your Own Capsule Collection.” When asked about what makes this service unique, Tina explained, “Yes, RTW is readily available, yet sometimes it falls short of one’s expectations, especially because now, the customer knows exactly what she wants. With the DYOCC, clients have the freedom to create pieces tailored to what they’ve always wanted but could never find. It is based on your key pieces + your personal style + your lifestyle. So together, we help you figure out what you need—from color palette to fabrication, fitting and alterations. It means increasing your favorite items so that whenever you open your closet, you are excited to get dressed. The result is a perfect mix & match wardrobe that works.”
Sold to the philosophy of DYOCC and loving Tina’s work, the twins partnered with her for their own capsule collection. “What the first brand [we worked with] delivered in almost 2 years, Tina delivered in 2 weeks! We’re so excited with this collaboration. Finally, it’s happening. Tina definitely had the same vision as ours. She gets it, being a plus size woman herself. I love how she was able to tweak our design pegs to match them to our body types and personalities,” Danah excitedly shared.
“Everything about this collection has meaning. From the name of our capsule collection to the number of pieces we produced, it all has meaning,” Stacy added.
The V Collection, as they both decided to name the capsule collection, is loaded with symbolism. Firstly, they picked ‘V’ because both their first names are Viderlina. “We used to hate the name, but we’re finally embracing it now! Haha! It’s unique, and it’s definitely unforgettable,” Danah explained. “We also have 5 pieces of designs each, a total of 10 for the entire collection, because we’ve been advocates for 5 years now. Also, we think 10 is a good number to start mixing and matching your clothes,” Stacy added.
The pieces in this collection are named with empowering and positive adjectives starting with, of course, the letter V. Their pieces range from size 2-22. “We don’t want to exclude the regular-sized girls just because we’re plus size women. Our advocacy is for body positivity. It should be available to all,” Danah explained. The price range of their pieces may be more than what the plus size market has been accustomed to, but as Stacy clarified, “We believe it’s about time that women get their money’s worth. Sure, other brands have very competitive price points, but the quality of their pieces is terribly compromised. It’s time for women to invest in themselves. No more cheap, disposable clothes for plus size women. The quality of these pieces will last you for years.”
The twins aim to bring out the confidence of larger women, as they hope their customers discover a new side of themselves with these pieces. “Fashion is an extension of one’s self, but how can women present themselves to the world as fierce and powerful individuals if they have no options other than tasteless, matronly clothes?” Danah questioned.
Ultimately, the twins believe that fashion should be available to women regardless of size. Fashion equality is what they desire, and they hope that this collection takes them a step closer to that goal.
Ready for fashion equality? SHOP NOW.