The size-inclusive shopping site is serving up its own line of classic and modern silhouettes alongside hits by in-demand designers
Words by JAKE HEDDAEUS
“This has been the most successful launch in company history,” says 11 Honoré founder Patrick Herning, referring to the debut of the retailer’s in-house label last month. That’s saying a lot, considering that over the last three years the size-inclusive e-tailer disrupted the fashion landscape by introducing extended sizes from designers like Dolce & Gabbana and Carolina Herrera to a customer that had few options with luxury fashion. Released in three batches, the inaugural collection of 24 styles includes a wide-leg satin pant, the perfect white tee and a lightweight jacket ideal for layering, all available in sizes 12 to 26.
11 HONORÉ Nia dress, $498.
Herning has a talent for spying a gap in the market. The lifelong Californian started out in tech during the dotcom boom in San Francisco before migrating to sunny Los Angeles, where he pivoted to fashion and communications. It was then, working with high-end brands, that he identified the lack of luxury options for the plus-size consumer.
“I worked on a project for Marina Rinaldi in 2016 to help the brand engage a younger audience, and it was through that experience that I saw the disconnect between a young, fashion-obsessed customer and the options made available to her in her size,” Herning explains. Upon this realization, he moved quickly to bring the concept to market.
Launched in 2017 as an e-commerce platform offering exclusive designer collections in sizes 10 to 20 from the likes of American designers Prabal Gurung and Jonathan Simkhai in addition to European houses, 11 Honoré was the first, and remains the only, retailer focused on size inclusivity in the luxury space. Since inception, there have been significant milestones along the way, like opening up New York Fashion Week in 2019 with a multidesigner runway show and selling out of Diane von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress in days.
With three years under his belt, the founder has once again identified a gap in the market, this time armed with ample sales data and community feedback: elevated essentials in extended sizes at a contemporary price point. So began the journey of building out a design team.
“I’ve been faced with the false idea that a plus-size brand could not be stylish, fashion-forward, and with an impeccable and consistent fit”
When Herning hired Long Beach-based Danielle Williams-Eke in the fall of 2019, the duo immediately aligned on a singular vision: a line of timeless, stylish and versatile pieces made with luxurious fabrics, such as stretch chartreuse and linen with an emphasis on fit. For example, the Chrissy shirtdress, with its trapeze cut and adjustable tie at the waist, was designed to flatter women of all sizes.
11 HONORÉ’s design director, DANIELLE WILLIAMS-EKE, and founder, PATRICK HERNING.
For Williams-Eke, who has a decade and a half of plus-size design experience, the collection was personal. “As a plus-size woman with a deep adoration of fashion, I’ve been faced with the false idea that a plus-size brand could not be stylish, fashion-forward, and with an impeccable and consistent fit.” Fast-forward nine months and one pandemic later, the company debuted a collection in June at the most challenging of times, which saw the majority of nonessential workers home-bound.
The aspirational essence of The Golden State’s laid-back lifestyle permeates the collection. Athleisure pieces like the Mia crewneck and Gia jogger make for a chic monochrome sweatsuit that is movie night-appropriate yet smart enough for a Zoom conference. The Gia dress is a fresh take on a slip, featuring a high slit and an asymmetrical hem that serves as a day-to-night staple that belongs in every woman’s wardrobe. The garments cut from the brand’s stretch linen have already proven to be bestsellers.
Given the long lead time on production, silhouettes and fabrications were locked in months before the coronavirus began its rapid spread, so one may chalk it up to luck that the assortment is so well suited for a socially distanced life. After all, they could have introduced a line of evening gowns. But the California-based brand has been immersed in a state and culture that has led the way in defining “haute casual” long before the pandemic. Techies in Silicon Valley ditched suits long ago, creating a new workwear wardrobe. On Fairfax Avenue, a crop of fashion fans and sneaker heads line up to buy from the latest drops at cult streetwear stores such as Supreme.
For some, a laid-back approach to dressing may be as novel as the coronavirus, but for Californians, this has long been the approach. A state that has been home to a myriad of game-changing ideas and innovators, 11 Honoré is just the latest example of a Golden State company pushing the wave forward.
July 20, 2020
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