Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Harlow: Leading the Way in Plus Size Fashion Australia

Plus Size Fashion
for Your Inner Rock Chic

Plus size fashion label Harlow started in Melbourne in November 2012. This year they celebrated their 10th anniversary with a runway appearance as part of the Curve Edit – the first size inclusive runway at Australian Fashion Week. Harlow’s core belief is that every woman has the right to find fashion that reflects her personality. Sustainable fashion stylist Jenna Flood caught up with owners Kerry and Angelo to find out more about their curve fashion label.

Who and what is Harlow?

We’re an independent Australian fashion brand focussing on sizes 12 to 26, selling exclusively online. At Harlow we don’t chase trends. Our focus is on timeless sophistication with a rock chic edge, catering for a size range that for too long has been overlooked in Australia. Harlow is designed in Brunswick and manufactured in Melbourne in collaboration with small family run ethically accredited manufacturers.

How would you describe your latest collection? It seems to have a rock and roll vibe…?

In this collection there is a nod to our inner rock chick roots with black pleather accents, mixing it back with new and exciting prints, textures, flowing silhouettes and a little glomesh glam in sexy yet sophisticated shapes. This collection screams look at me in an intentional yet sophisticated way.

How has Harlow changed since you first started?

When we first started, we were all about the latest trends, which wasn’t serving us, our customers or the environment.

Over time we have moved towards quality fashionable pieces that you can wear on repeat. That came from listening to our customers and seeing what they purchase from us. It was clear that what they were looking for was a solution to the age-old dilemma of “what to wear and feel good”. They didn’t necessarily want the latest. What they want is an easy solution to feeling good when they walk out the door. Which is why we melded the two worlds: “fashion” and “timelessness”. We make quality pieces that they can mix and match and style up for maximum impact.

This in turn has us making a much smaller impact on the environment and our customers can feel good about the fact that they are purchasing pieces made thoughtfully.

What inspires your collections?
We’re inspired by everyday life, from movies, music video, TV shows and from everyday people, I’ve been known to see a hemline or sleeve on a fashionista in the real world, & think “ I really love that hemline” and I’ll come in for a closer look and realise its not what I thought it was, but it’s started my creative juices flowing already and we are on our way to a “new style”

For us it’s not about following trends, but rather a constant evolution of the styles. We use silhouettes & fabrics that our customers love as our base and we’ll mix it up with a few out of the box concepts every season. We want to be the brand that is familiar yet also dares to surprise.

Who are your customers?

Our customers love fashion, but aren’t a slave to it.

Typically, she’s time poor and looking to us for clothes that are going to make her look good and feel good, with ease. She loves the simplicity of a little black dress, as much as she enjoys the drama of leather look pants or a flowing maxi dress.

She loves it when someone comments on her style or asks her “where is that from”. For us that is the biggest compliment we can receive.

The term plus size is often seen as a negative.  But what are the alternatives and is the term plus size good or bad?

I don’t love it, but I do find that when searching for brands that cater to your size – using the term plus size does make it easier. It’s why we use it as a brand. There is nothing worse than wasting your time looking through styles online or instore to find at the end that they don’t come in your size. In that vein the term plus size saves disappointment.

As a brand we prefer the term curve.

What do you do to encourage your community to be more sustainable?

Buy less, pass on something if it doesn’t work for you anymore. One of our customers has started a Harlow buy, swap, sell page and we love that Harlow gets a chance to move onto another home to be loved.

We also personally buy local when we can and are always sharing other local, sustainably made brands via our stories.

What are you planning in the short term?

We are planning on bringing back shop by appointments, we love getting to spend time face to face with our customers.

We would also love to do a few customer photoshoots here and then in Sydney. It’s something we first did in late 2019 and we’d love to pick up where we left off.

You appeared on the runway for the first time at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney. What was that like?

It was a dream come true.

Being chosen as one of the 6 Australian plus size fashion brands that walked the first ever size inclusive runway at AAFW was Magic!

Seeing fashion walk the runway on a diverse mix of models was liberating. There were 28 models that strutted down that runway, no one body was the same and they all looked FIRE!

It’s was a definite pinch me moment!

Owning a plus size brand I have never felt like Harlow would be invited to walk AAFW! I’ve never felt like my or any brand that caters to sizes 12+ is or has ever been considered “FASHION”. We barely see plus shown in any fashion events in Australia. And if by some luck a fashion publication has a plus editorial it will be 3 pages (if we are lucky) in the 300+ page magazine. And even then, often the brands shown do not extended beyond a size 16! Showing us that they don’t think we deserve to be showcased!!! 

However, the change is coming, the casting at Australian Fashion Week was one of the best I have seen, with its diversity on multiple runways & the CURVE EDIT took it next level!!!

It’s because of people like Chelsea Bonner of Bella Management and brands like ours who refuse to believe that we need to hide our bodies and people who believe that ALL bodies are worthy, that change is happening. And we are here for it!

Harlow is not just a plus size fashion label. What else should people know about Harlow?

Harlow’s muses are “Women Who Rock”. It started with the icons from the 70s and 80s like Deborah Harry, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar and Tina Turner. We’ve extended it to all women who have made a difference in the world. 

In homage to the big part music plays in the world of fashion, all our styles are named after ­­­­­either lyrics or song names from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond, making for a fun time in the studio. You’ll often hear us singing out loud as we get inspired by a style name.

You can sing along to the playlist we’ve put together of them all.

Providing styling tips twice a week for people signing up on the “Insider List”, Harlow is changing the way we think about “fashion” in Australia.

Jenna flood

Jenna Flood is a slow fashion stylist Known as the Ironic Minimalist. Jenna earned a Masters of Styling at the Australian Style Institute and along with Cocktail Revolution has been published in the websites of ASI, Ethical Clothing Australia, and has had her styling work shown in Flanelle and Moss Magazines.

Like this post? Then you’ll also like:

Australian Plus Size Models Leading the Charge for Diversity

Australian Fashions Problem – Plus Size Brands

Plus Size Fashion Bloggers to Follow

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