Plus-size clothing is a growing market, with sales of women’s clothes size 12 and above rising 6 percent to $21.4 billion last year—double the rate of overall apparel sales, according to NPD Group, one of the world’s largest market research companies. But companies that specialize in plus-size clothes like ELOQUII—a Columbus, Ohio-based contemporary fast-fashion retailer for sizes 14-28—say they need more designers who are knowledgeable about plus-size fashion.
So, in fall 2017, ELOQUII partnered with Columbus College of Art & Design, a top nonprofit, private art and design school that teaches undergraduate and graduate students in the midst of a thriving creative community in Columbus.
Columbus is the No. 3 fashion city in the U.S.— behind New York and Los Angeles. The growing Midwestern creative hub is home to big-name fashion companies, innovative startups, and a pipeline of talented up-and-coming fashion designers thanks to Columbus College of Art & Design.
In the Fashion Design program at Columbus College of Art & Design, students learn everything from hands-on technical skills of design and construction to the latest fabric printing technologies. Top student work is showcased at the annual CCAD Fashion Show, a big runway event that attracts fashion industry pros and fashionistas alike.
The annual CCAD Fashion Show features collections created by Fashion Design seniors and MFA students, and the work ranges from ethereal eveningwear and sustainable womenswear to vintage-inspired menswear and motocross gear. The student work is informed by classroom projects, many of which involve real-world companies and burgeoning markets like the ELOQUII project.
The 16 students in CCAD’s Advanced Pattern Drafting class were tasked with conceiving, designing, and creating plus-size garments. ELOQUII executives provided feedback and guidance as students moved from concept to fully realized garments.
“It was an amazing opportunity for our students to learn about plus-size design and work with a real-world company,” said Rebecca Robinson, assistant professor of Fashion Design at CCAD.
Dresses and one-piece jumpsuits were unveiled at a public exhibition called Embrace the Curve in fall 2017. And ELOQUII selected one student design that it will produce and sell online as part of its Spring/Summer 2018 collection.
The winning design, by CCAD student Ran Tao (who goes by Peach), features a romantic, cold-shoulder dress with a ruffled neckline in on-trend millennial pink. It will be available for purchase in spring 2018 on eloquii.com, along with a shoutout to the designer and Columbus College of Art & Design.