Kelly Helfman, VP & Brand Director of FAME & ATSTalks Fashion & The Inclusion Of Plus-Size Brands
Kelly Helfman, VP & Brand Director of FAME & ATS oversees RTW contemporary and trend-driven fashion for women and is focused on bringing more full range brands to the attention of retailers to expand their offerings in their stores. Now at MAGIC/PROJECT for 11 years, her career highlights include launching the contemporary children’s show Playground (now Children’s Club Las Vegas) and the Young Contemporary show FWD New York (now merged with FAME.) We recently had an opportunity to talk about all things fashion and how the fashion industry is embracing plus-size brands. Take a look below:
How do you think social media influencers have contributed to the inclusion of plus size brands?
I will go as far as saying that influencers like Candice Huffine and Ashley Graham are changing women’s lives, empowering women to feel more confident about their bodies. Their platforms are bringing attention to women that are size 14 and above. Women of all sizes want fashionable, on-trend options for their wardrobes. Brands that offer plus sizes are now able to receive exposure that the brands who just have “traditional” sizing are getting through social media platforms and models. The exposure is no longer limited.
Do you believe that the fashion world still has a lot to do as it comes to plus size brands and models?
We have made a lot of progress in the past year, but there is much more we can do as an industry. This is just the start. With a major women’s movement happening, brands and retailers are going to be more and more in a position to accommodate women of all sizes and shapes. The future is female!
How can retailers be more inclusive of plus size brands and consumers?
Online retailers are doing it best right now by creating niche searches by sizing. I especially like how Asos.com has not only plus but also tall and petite, becoming a destination for girls of all shapes and sizes. Brick and mortars are not there yet. We currently have plus only shops (like men’s big and tall), but not many retailers are mixing traditional and plus sizes. Department stores at least have a section for expanded sizing, but boutiques and specialty chains are doing a poor job with size options past XL. We cannot assume that all stores or brands will all offer plus, but I think we will see a major expansion of the segment in the next 2 years.
Lastly, what is your advice for designers looking to be more inclusive of plus size consumers?
Create a story and a message. “Beauty is confidence in what you are wearing.” Consumers more than ever want to associate with a brand that resonates with them and has the same lifestyle goals they have. Your website, look book, social media feed, marketing, etc. should all tell the consumer that it is not about size, but how the clothing makes you feel. Brands need to take a stance, not be scared of change and now more than ever, be industry disrupters. The brands that do not evolve will end up not succeeding in the end. This younger generation looks at curvy influencers as #bodygoals. It is so empowering and inspirational!