Full Figured Fashion Week: It’s Not Your Average Runway Show

Gwen DeVoe walks a runway during a Curves for a Cure luminary showcase.

The doors during Full Figured Fashion Week open in usually a few hours, and things are already going wrong: There are too few chairs for too many pinkish present bags, vendors sent wrong decorations and a band’s theatre is in a wrong spot, so eventuality staff are sizing adult how to repair a building devise of Manhattan’s Affinia Hotel ballroom.

As if on cue, a double doors pitch open and in walks Gwen DeVoe, Full Figured Fashion Week’s owner and executive director, prepared to lot out some solutions in glossy pinkish heels. Sailing down a runway where models –including herself — will strut in tiny hours, DeVoe fast whips adult orders to file a room, signs clipboards of invoices with swooping, one-handed signatures and afterwards heads down a gymnasium to a sauce room for a evening’s Curves for a Cure breast cancer benefit, where final notation outfit changes need her attention.

As shortly as she’s finished finalizing dresses for her runway models, DeVoe is off, charging behind to a ballroom. But before she pushes by a double doors again, she flips her hair and, yet branch around, raises a palm dismissively behind her. “Honey, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” she says.

* * *

Full Figured Fashion Week resolved a fifth year this weekend, yet even in a infancy, a annual jubilee has already been dubbed a Oscars of plus-size women’s fashion, with any night bringing together an normal of 500 models, designers, retailers, bloggers and shoppers from an attention value $14 billion annually — about 14% of a sum women’s wardrobe marketplace — according to consumer tracking use a NPD Group.

DeVoe, 54, is a former plus-size model, yet a impulse for a Full Figured Fashion Week usually struck a few years ago. “I went to a conform show, sat there for 15 mins and saw zero that we could buy since we was too fat and they didn’t have it in my size,” DeVoe says upstairs in her Affinia hotel room, her temporary bureau for a week. “So we said, ‘I need one of these for my peoples.’ It wasn’t rocket science. I’m all about supply and demand.”

She answered a call within a year, spending leftover income from her taxation earnings to put on a really initial Full Figured Fashion Week in 2009. Back then, she recruited volunteers and solicited sponsors for support. Now, she employees a part-time staff of 15, and corporate sponsors like plus-size retailers Lane Bryant and Sonsi assistance cover a event’s prolongation costs, that float tighten to $100,000. (That’s still usually a fragment of what some designers’ Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week runway shows cost.)

Interest from plus-size conform designers also continues to grow, and, like Tim Gunn on a Project Runway culmination episode, DeVoe even travels via a year to accommodate with up-and-comers. Where DeVoe once struggled to get press coverage for her shows, she now has some-more than 100 conform bloggers who request to work as Full Figured Fashion Week’s personal press corps. And yet a eventuality doesn’t pull A-list names like Anna Wintour or Heidi Klum, it does underline obvious total from a possess community, such as late WNBA champion Yolanda Moore and existence stars Rosie Mercado and Kenyatta Jones, who all walked in a Curves for a Cure uncover before an eager throng full of mostly associate plus-size women.

Some things haven’t changed: DeVoe still keeps her day pursuit operative in tellurian resources during Scholastic, so she runs her event-planning business on a side in her giveaway time, as she’s finished for some-more than dual decades. Thanks in partial to sheet sales from a week’s open events, however, DeVoe is means to make a tiny distinction off any conform week. Last year, she says she took home $10,000, some of that she poured behind into this year’s budget.

In a 5 years DeVoe has run a show, a landscape for full-figured conform has non-stop adult as retailers take note of a sound she and other women are making. Brands such as ModCloth and Mango have upped their joining to curvier women by expanding their options for plus-size shoppers. Last year, ModCloth, an online vintage-inspired wardrobe vendor, introduced plus-size products that grew to an 8% cut of association revenue in usually a few months. But that’s not all — ModCloth also found that a plus-size business spend 25% some-more per sequence compared to other shoppers, and they’re 66% some-more expected to widespread a word of a purchase. Considering some-more than half of American women wear some plus-size clothing items, that’s a lot of income on a table.

DeVoe, right, with Lucille O’Neal, author and mom of late basketball actor Shaquille O’Neal, during Curves for a Cure.

“Before it was like, ‘Is anybody out there?’” says Marie Denee, a blogger behind The Curvy Fashionista and a long-time full Figured Fashion Week guest who calls DeVoe her personal mentor. “Now it’s like, ‘Listen to me. we am value a same volume of dollars as anybody else.’”

* * *

The morning after a advantage show, day 3 of a week-long eventuality starts not in a hotel ballroom, yet in a tiny Midtown print studio. This time, there are no luminary models, no glittery dresses, usually DeVoe and a handful of determined eventuality planners and conform designers who’ve come as distant as Australia, Singapore and Costa Rica to hear DeVoe give a speak on conform eventuality prolongation 101.

This master category is a other side of Full Figured Fashion Week. While New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is all about a business, too — usually buyers, reporters and attention insiders are invited into a sacred tents — DeVoe’s prolongation is usually as most a care discussion as it is a conform showcase, and that’s been an constituent partial of Full Figured Fashion Week’s DNA. From a beginning, DeVoe has orderly attention panels, seminars and networking events, and she’s now even deliberation her possess webinars. It’s another approach for DeVoe, who also founded a multi-city plus-size displaying academy in a late 90s, to sight a subsequent era of curvy movers and shakers.


Article source : http://www.forbes.com/sites/nolanfeeney/2013/06/25/full-figured-fashion-week-gwen-devoe-retail-plus-size/

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