Starting a Plus-Size Fashion Brand Without a Design Background

Posted by baker miller

plus-size fashion design inspiration

Have you ever wondered how to start a fashion brand?

Now, think about starting a fashion brand with no background in fashion design.

baker miller started as a contemporary plus-size fashion brand without anyone having any design background whatsoever.

What did it take to put concepts and ideas into a completed garment? There were a lot of steps, which we will share in future blog posts, but let's focus on the design part today.

baker miller began with dresses because they are easy to wear, versatile, and flattering. We had ideas for dresses that would look great on a curvy body. Dresses of certain silhouettes, proportions, and fit.

These ideas came from talking to plus-size women about their needs and want with their clothes. There were common themes and complaints from these women. They wanted dresses that showed off their waist with flattering but non-constraining necklines. They also wanted proportioned hem lengths (not too short but not long) and comfortable but shapely sleeves. Finally, these women wanted pockets! Everyone wanted clothes with pockets to throw in keys, a phone, or lipstick as they ran from one appointment to another.

We refined these concepts by doing a lot of research online and in stores, paying attention to the fashion styles that would be popular in the coming season, then translating these trends to work for our clothing. Inspiration boards, or a collage of images, helped convey our design ideas.

In addition, the dresses had to work with our desired fabrics - materials with substance, structure, and a bit of stretch for comfort.

There was a checklist of requirements for any design to be a part of baker miller's first collection. These elements were critically important to our customers:

  • Did it have a sophisticated silhouette? Was the dress on-trend and stylish but not chasing the latest trend?
  • Did the dress feel timeless? Could it be worn season after season?
  • Was the dress versatile? Could it be worn across different occasions and dressed up or down?
  • Was it effortless to put on and wear? Comfortable to wear through a busy day?

So how do you jump from ideas to actual sketches without a design background? You hire a design consultant.

Enter Sunil Ramchandani, who helped take our ideas and put them to paper. Sunil is a Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and has had a successful career as a plus-size designer at brands including Anne Klein, Jockey International, and VF Corp/Vanity Fair Brands (where he launched Curvation from Queen Latifah). He had a lot of insight into improving our dresses' look and fit.

The sketches allowed us to experiment with our dresses' shape, form, volume, and proportion from the front and back views. Here are a couple of design sketches of our dresses. We can't wait to bring these designs to life!

baker miller plus-size wrap dress sketch
baker miller plus-size fit & flare dress sketch

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