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Every now and then, a plus size clothing collection comes along that makes me squeal with delight and literally clap with joy. And those rare times this happens, it is almost always an indy company that makes said collection, and they are always US based. But not this time. This week, Plus Equals released their new collection and I could not control my excitement. It is a veritable flurry of sequins and faux fur, bright prints and co-ords, and there isn’t a hint of being discreet in sight. It is a collection that screams to be seen, and promises that your plus size body is beautiful and deserves to be on show. It is attention grabbing and utterly delightful. I fell in love and promptly emailed my Mum to ask for pieces from it for Christmas, such is my adoration of the collection.
The new range is available up to a size 32, and even includes a made to measure service at no extra cost. Truly size inclusive and inspiring! The models for the look book are real plus size babes with brazen bellies on show in crop tops, and in a rare turn for any fashion look book, all the models are of colour. The plus size world has a long way to go with showing real fat bodies and more than just white faces, and Plus Equals get it all in one. And this isn’t a one off, every campaign they’ve ever done has been a sea of inclusivity and positivity. I got in touch with Plus Equals to find out more, and to introduce you to the face behind it, Jazmin Lee.
So first up, who is Plus Equals and how did you get started?Plus Equals is run by me, Jazmin, a fashion stylist based in Brighton. I got started with the idea of Plus Equals in late 2014, it was an idea to pursue my creative outlet, styling and fashion, with the view to make it a career instead of commuting to London to work for free. It grew (in my Grandpa’s living room I should probably add, thanks Gramps), and eventually in May 2016 it came to launch as a selection of 14-26 vintage & upcycled clothes. It’s aim was always to be really quirky, off the wall but effortless – I wanted to give some fun and frivolity to the plus size community, as I felt it to be so lacklustre. Six months later, Plus Equals has just launched it’s first ever collection of 14-32/Made to Measure garments, which are all handmade and custom designed. I was suffering with a lot of upset, anger, emotional stress and grief, it was a channel for me to put everything into, and try to make change in the world – it’s been so well received so far, it’s changed my life. Truly.When did you become interested in fashion? Did you study it?I grew up in a very creative household, my grandparents and mother were artists and writers, and all their friends were similar, fashion just happened to be the thing that grabbed me. Eventually growing up it became my outlet and expression, and something that I just have loved ever since. I love how it entwines art, music, emotions, politics. I studied Fashion Promotion at University after a year of deciding between music and fashion, I was very self conscious and low in confidence which held me back for a while, until I began to meet people like me and start to express myself more creatively. I got involved with my hometown’s (Brighton. Fashion Week for a few years, and then worked my way into Casting Director which was incredible, I met so many amazing people and worked on a truly fabulous project, and from there I was able to freelance.
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_______________________________________________________________________________________Did you always want to be a fashion designer?I knew I always wanted to be creative – I don’t think I ever saw my future in any particular way other than working in fashion, I’ve always been sure of that. No-one can change my mind now, I’m very determined. I’ve always been keen on working on my styling portfolio and skills but Plus Equals has launched me into a new stratosphere that I didn’t see myself in, but it’s amazing. I could sum it up as ‘if you want a job doing, do it yourself’.Why did you decide to design for plus size bodies? Your size range is wonderfully inclusive, and unusual in a UK based indy brand!As a plus size woman myself, I know this market. I’ve shopped this market for long enough, and I’m tired of this market. Fashion to me, is the all inclusive, all loving and all embracing thing that I fell in love with, and that runs in my veins, but the industry is so far behind that. I’ve been a size 26, I’ve been a size 16, I’m the vivacious kid that wants to wear the most outrageous thing I can find, but hey, we’re stuck in a world of mushroom on beige on camel. Plus Equals became an infusion of many angers at my distaste in the world and the fashion industry, and I really wanted it to stick two fingers up to any kind of norm or dictation. It’s for the chubby girl that wears a fierce dress but people are laughing at her, or the other one who’s being shouted at for being overweight in the street.Your new collection is a dream of sequins and faux fur and bright colours, it’s so refreshing! Where did the inspiration for it come from?Watching a lot of my favourite icons pass away this year was definitely a defining moment for the world. I grew up inspired by the same people my mother was, David Bowie, Prince, and that bought me a lot of time of listening to that music again and again. I lived through a David Bowie era when I was growing up, and it brought back the ideas of clothes I always wanted to wear, or even just have the option to wear. I felt a lot of presence from the strong women (both here and not) around me recently too, I felt lifted and empowered, I wanted to pass that on through this collection. So that was a big part of it for me, but also the idea of wearability – it was important to introduce in some things that are more staple but a little quirkier – the hoody dresses and the striped dresses were a bit of a homage to that era, but also something that we, as plus sizers, can wear daily and feel great in.Who are your ultimate style icons?Wow this is a hard one! David Bowie, definitely, Rihanna and Solange are walking art, I love the work of designers like Vivienne Westwood, Charlie le Mindu, Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, photographer David LaChapelle – it’s one big ol’ confusion ball of style, but man I think the world has some serious talent. And I think that because a lot of my inspiration lays in a world that the plus size fashion retailer world doesn’t seem to bring to the market, that was another huge influence behind releasing this collection.Who would you love to dress?Beth Ditto for bloody starters! I love love LOVE her. Danielle Brooks and Dascha Polanco are slaying right now, they would be a dream team to work with.What is your dream for Plus Equals?I want this to be a brand with a message, something that can change things in the industry for good – I want it to encourage diversity and send a message to our next generation that being you is perfect. I want it to promote the talent of new creatives around the world, to showcase the artistic flair in being quirky, and really to be a fully inclusive line including a menswear range that will shake things up. I want this to head towards a fully sustainable company too – the industry has enough of a carbon footprint and it just can’t be maintained at this level. I want people to know that sustainable fashion isn’t a hessian bag – it’s more about making good choices, both business end and consumer wise, buying less and wearing longer. Plus Equals is a brand that stands for something, and if it can make change for the good, dream goal ticked off.And finally, what’s next?Currently, I’m working hard on orders, it’s a one woman show right now. I’ve got new ideas to add into the collection which is something that is going to grow and grow, this is the very very beginning – and it’s taken months longer to launch than anticipated! The drive for this is off the scale right now, and I’m determined to give the plus size community inspiration, fun, fairness and some damn sequins! 2017 is going to be a great year, it’s time to get creative.I don’t know about you guys, but I know I cannot wait to see what comes next!