Art & Design
Posted by Liz Banks-Anderson
08. May, 2012
In a fashion world increasingly influenced by the politics of chic, the concepts of fashion and empowerment are becoming synonymous. Melbourne-based company 17 Sundays is contributing to a vision of fashion as a cultural destination where everyone who values fashion, art, music and creativity can contribute and become a part of something.
17 is leading the way in destabilising the conventional notions of plus size fashion — women can mould their own aesthetic identity and express their creativity through the brand, which also emphasises an element of nostalgia to transport us back to the endless possibilities of our youth.
Milk Bar chats with Claire Primrose from 17 Sundays ….
MILK BAR: What is the inspiration behind the name 17 Sundays?
CLAIRE PRIMROSE: 17 was the age we loved the most in our teens. We were defining our individuality and honing our self-confidence through fashion and pop culture, mix-tapes were of life or death importance and looking good was an obsession. We lived for the weekend and looking back, Sunday afternoons seemed as dreamy as an Audrey Horne dance sequence from Twin Peaks.
MB: Can you tell us how 17 Sundays came about?
CP: Every young woman needs the opportunity to choose how they define themselves aesthetically, it’s empowering. Currently there is a limited choice of fashion options for women over certain sizes. 17 is about changing that.
MB: What is the 17 Sundays philosophy?
CP: 17 is about making women feel confident in the moment. I know that sounds like a tampon ad tag line but it’s really that simple. We have received so many emails from our customers thanking us for offering our lines in plus sizes, telling us what event they wore our garments to and how it made them feel.
One woman said she had waited her whole life to wear a dress we offered last season; she bought three of the same dress and told us how wearing it made her feel sexy and confident. She never thought she could feel that way about her body. Another email we received was from a woman in her mid 30s who had never worn jeans before and was so thankful to us for giving her the confidence to do that. This is what 17 is all about.
MB: How does 17 Sundays fit into the Melbourne fashion landscape? What is Melbourne fashion to you?
CP: Of course we are biased, but Melbourne fashion is so unique and exciting. Let’s face it: Melbourne IS the home of the hipster. Brands like LIFEwithBIRD and Obus are inspirational and have been instrumental in changing the fashion landscape in Melbourne along with the longevity and continual freshness of Gorman.
Melbourne fashion is intelligent, urban and cerebral. As a label we will always be influenced by Melbourne street fashion and the fact that we are being bought wholesale by regular size boutiques shows that we definitely have a place in the local fashion landscape. The challenge for us is to not become too Melbourne-centric, which is why our PR is based in Sydney and our look books are shot and styled there too.
MB: How is 17 Sundays ‘so much more than clothes’? How will you harness fashion’s social and cultural power and what will you use it for?
CP: Over time we hope a following will evolve organically. It’s important for women who have felt excluded to be a part of something in its entirety. People partially define themselves by the labels they align with. It’s easy to tell the world what you value by the brands you wear. We support causes we believe in, support music and artists we feel associate with 17 or have touched us in some way.
Our plus size bloggers are invaluable; they are extremely important to the industry for many reasons. The majority of them are absolutely styling: they show plus size women how to connect with their bodies and how different looks can be worn. We will always support our blog roll and promote images of women of all sizes wearing our clothes.
After last year’s L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival (LMFW) there was a lot of back lash around the plus size parades and of course Myer and city Chic’s showings on the runways. I think as an industry we can look to them as pioneers who opened the door for other plus size brands, who in the future who will bring relevance and the inspirational magic that is absolutely essential in a runway showing — this is where the power and influence of fashion is at its strongest.
MB: What’s next?
CP: Launch A/W12 , then New York Fashion Week. Afterwards we’re hosting the first plus size pop-up store in Melbourne where our pattern maker will be doing jean fittings for our customers.
Follow Liz Banks-Anderson on Twitter @lbanksanderson
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