I took a very ordinary photo of a not so ordinary flower. It should have been trashed…but…there’s always app editing to save a bad photo.
My day today was crazy, beautiful and so incredibly rewarding. We’re printing new fabric designs for Hayley Joy for Summer ’18, and today was one of those days where everything that came off the heat press, lived up to my design dream. I’m doing lots of florals and of course lots of colour.
The heat press runs at 200 degrees, and our space is small, so little mini breaks are a necessity. This flower has been incubating in my design head since I edited it yesterday. I couldn’t wait to play with it, so on my little mini break, I went on a crazy editing journey. We joked and said that at the rate I was going, I could be designing “a print a minute”.
This is the edited version that I took on the design journey.
Once I’d cleaned the image up and created something that I could work with, I started playing.
The first edit was a simple one so that I had a base to work from.
From there it was into my most favourite app called Frax, which creates incredible Fractals. There were so many amazing results, here are a few of my favourites.
This will definitely illustrate why I’m so inspired by app editing. After all, this was a very pretty flower, captured badly, that should have been trashed.
These remind me of very glammed up seashells.
I see this design on silk scarves (my big dream is to have my own Fractal prints, printed on pure silk.)
From here I started to build actual prints for my clothing collections.
I can’t wait to print these on Chiffon.
I often get asked for fabric prints with yellow. It’s not a colour I ever really work with, but I’ve decided to honour the requests this season, and really liked this combination.
I’m not sure what I would do with this, but I love it, so I’ve added it to my think tank.
And last but not least, my absolute favourite – a labour of love to isolate it onto the black background, but so worth the effort. This one I’d print on a huge canvas.
In a bold move, I opted to remove all the sizes from the labels in my garments, and replace them with shapes.
After many years on the shop floor at Hayley Joy, I felt that it was time for me to lead the way in eliminating body shaming, with dignity. I’ve spent many hours in one-on-one consultations and it always comes down to the same thing – low self-esteem – which isn’t helped by having to buy clothing with a 5XL, 6XL and 7XL label in it. Removing sizes from my garment labels, seemed the most obvious thing to do, after the umpteenth call from a client asking us to cut out the labels from their clothing, because their husband, son, son-in-law or boss were coming to collect on their behalf, and “they absolutely couldn’t have them see what size she is buying.” The final affirmation for me was when a client sent me a picture of a Hayley Joy garment belonging to her mom, that had the corner of the label cut out, where the size normally is.
I’m never one to play it safe, so I decided to go where no other clothing designer and manufacturer had really gone before. I allocated colours to the various sizes, and it felt so good to say you’re a yellow, or a pink, or a green. And then at 3am one morning, which is when my brain tends to decide to have it’s real moments, I woke with absolute clarity…I needed to have coloured labels with shapes. This would mean that instead of clients referring to their size as a 2XL, they become a pink heart (which is the new label for a 2XL HJ garment). As a shapely women, it made perfect sense to me, and I knew it would make perfect sense to my clients, and in turn, would eliminate the stress of a number in a label.
Many clothing brands have dropped the plus-size from the description of their ranges, and are seeing a marked increase in profits, but nobody has gone as far as removing sizes completely. Practically I think it’s difficult to remove sizes if you are a store carrying multiple brands. For Hayley Joy it makes perfect sense, because we manufacture all our collections in our own production facility, exclusively for our retail store. It’s easier for us to educate our present and future clients on how to buy the ranges. It also allows for us to demonstrate our respect for the issues around sizing. I’d spent months on the internet reading comments on anything Plus-size related, and the recurring gripe is this, “Why do we have to be labelled, why can’t we just be part of the consumer chain?”
I had given it much thought, and was in agreement. It was time to start offering fashion in all sizes, with no stigma. Hayley Joy is known as a Plus-size brand, but the reality is that we cater for all sizes. I have many clients who buy Hayley Joy small, because they like the styles and the look and feel. They are really not fazed by what size we go up to. In fact, they are often in awe, that there is a brand who is taking a small pattern, and sizing it all the way up to a 7XL.
As a small independent boutique, attempting to do something that radical, within the clothing space, was risky. But for me, I believe that the time was right for somebody to make a move in this very maligned area of fashion.
Plus-size clothing has a stigma, there is no denying it. I’m hoping that by making the changes and removing sizes completely, HJ has created a precedent, and at the same time, demonstrated to women out there, that somebody has taken heed of all the feedback, and come up with a fun, quirky way to limit the stigma and remove the trauma of shopping by size. I think we’ve been so fixated on size for so long, that we’ve forgotten that we have a shape too, and it’s our shape that defines the clothing we wish to wear.
I hope that this will revolutionise the way women are marketed to in fashion, globally. It’s time for women of all shapes and sizes to be honoured. I want this to become a global undertaking. We the designers, who are claiming to know a thing or two about Plus-size fashion, need to realise that our clients needs are not that complicated, they just want respectfully designed, well fitting, fashion forward clothing, without stigma around their size.
I want to be that designer who changed the way women of all sizes are marketed to. In my own small way, I hoped that this would revolutionise the way women were marketed to in fashion, globally. It was time for women of all shapes and sizes to be honoured. I wanted this to become a global undertaking. We the designers, who claim to know a thing or two about Plus-size fashion, needed to start realising that our clients needs are not that complicated, they just want respectfully designed, well fitting, fashion forward clothing, without stigma around their size. I believed that the first step in taking the trauma out of sizing…and the first step for Hayley Joy towards this, was to make fashion about a Shape, not a Size.
It’s emails like this that make me so incredibly sad. I can only imagine the desperation, and then the guts to actually write and send this email. I still cannot believe that no other stores get the need for respectfully designed Odd and Plus sizes. Surely I cannot be the only designer, with her own weight issues, that gets it…that thought defies logic.
I am constantly pushing the design boundaries for Plus sizes, because the needs are very different to normal sizes, and you cannot think that you are just going to upsize normal sizes. When designing collections for Hayley Joy, I insist on incorporating styles for all occasions, because this is not the first email like this, and it certainly won’t be the last.
The good news is that T arrived, tried on two different styles, first one was definitely not right, second one was amazing. She shrank in front of my eyes. Her relief was inspiring, and so was her gratitude.
Being able to make a difference and make a living…once again, my gratitude knows no bounds.
After a marathon fabric shopping excursion, I stopped to get some water, and there was a bunch of pink roses at the door of the shop.
There they were in an ugly bucket, on an ugly stand, in a dull concrete environment. I stood staring at them, thinking about how even in a really bland setting, a pretty bunch of pink roses, will always be pretty.
I suppose this philosophy can be applied to so many areas of our lives. Pretty is pretty, no matter the circumstances, and it’s up to us to take the time to smell the roses, and see the beauty.
In my line of work, I spend as much time selling Plus size fashion, as I do convincing my clients to see the good in themselves. A pretty heart is just as important as a pretty face, in actual fact I’d go so far as to say, that to have a pretty heart is so much more important than having just a pretty face. Body image is a very sensitive issue and that’s why I always design with the intention to make my clients feel amazing about themselves.
Spending the day in an outfit that gets loads of compliments, will automatically make you feel pretty.
I hope my photo (taken by me on my iPhone, and edited by me with my knowledge gained in an online iPhone photography course run by Emil Parkalis), brings some prettiness into your life.
Being able to dress any size, and any shape, in my Plus size collections, is the highlight of my design career. When I opened Hayley Joy, I was determined to create an environment, where every woman felt welcome and respected.
My brief to Hayley Joy production was that every style I designed and put into production, had to be able to be sized from a Small to a 7XL, so when we worked on the new Miracle Swing camisole, I held my thumbs that it would look amazing on all sizes.
This photo of Veronica who is one of my oldest and dearest customers, proves that we are absolutely on the right track. I’m loving every minute of pushing the design boundaries for Plus sizes…NOTHING.IS.IMPOSSIBLE, and Veronica is the perfect example of that philosophy.
A recurring request is for a Plus size sleeveless garment that is respectful to odd and Plus size shapes.
What is that requirement? Well it’s all in the armholes. I have patiently engineered the armholes on this garment. The secret is that all the bits need to be tucked away, so that we wear a sleeveless garment comfortably, without worrying about who can see what, hanging out.
I’m extremely proud of this Miracle camisole shape, that I’ve introduced to the Hayley Joy collection. It does everything it needs to do. I’ve kept the top semi fitted, and swung from the waist to allow for ease of wear.
Whilst working on this shape, I came to understand, that it is important to take into account, that there are many Plus size women whose arms are perfectly acceptable, and there are also those woman who have learnt to embrace their shapes, and are far more concerned about being cool, than what yours and my opinion of their arms are. It’s for this reason that I designed this respectful garment in two lengths. There is normal camisole length and then I’ve introduced a length that’s just on the knee, and works brilliantly as a costume cover, or is perfect over leggings. It’s a fun look, and one that I know you will enjoy wearing, from a comfort perspective.
Exciting times in Hayley Joy production…we’ve been developing a new shape, the Hayley Joy Miracle Flare Top, to add to our Plus size Miracle top collection.
With this style, my brief to my production team was ‘Ethereal’, I wanted something floaty but flattering. The challenge is always to be able to size from a Small to a 7XL without losing the aesthetic. My commitment is that every style must be able to be produced in all sizes. I also wanted a different sleeve design, I wanted a beautiful floaty sleeve, that would look feminine, be flattering, and above all else, be cool.
Huge advantage to being the in-house model…I get to try all new samples on. I’ve tried it on, and it’s a winner. I loved the feel of this top and I know you’re going to love it.
How do I explain to you via a social media post, how incredible the fit of this very simple Plus size, Miracle Shape top is? The best I can do is post this photo, and tell you that after all these years, I still marvel at how the simplest of fabrics and designs still have the ability to blow me away.
When I first tried it on, my instant reaction was…wow look at how much shape I have, even after a ‘bit of a fall off the weight bus, winter’…eeeek!!
The fabric is definitely the reason for the wonderful fit. It is lightweight and has a slinky feel to it, but it doesn’t cling.
I’ve kept the design very simple and am letting the fabric shine this time. If you’re looking for a simple, casual, comfortable top for everyday, this is it.
For those of you who have already bought it, thank you for the feedback and I’m glad you are enjoying the simplicity and comfort.
I enjoy leading and learning, and am privileged to have nurtured a team, who are comfortable to give me constructive feedback that I continuously learn from.
Allowing my team members to express themselves and to actively participate in making decisions about fabric, designs and the final look and feel of collections, has proved to me that the Boss doesn’t always have to make all the decisions. Some of our most successful designs have come from input from the seamstresses who vary in age from 30 – 60 years old.
For so long I did this alone, now working as a team, is so much more rewarding than working solo.