An Innovative Revolutionary Change to the Plus Size Fashion World
Plus size clothing is an important market that the fashion industry often overlooks. But through ad campaigns such as “I’m No Angel” by Lane Bryant and media coverage on retail opportunities in plus size fashion, people are generating more awareness around plus size clothing. I decided to research NYC based companies that focused on plus size clothing, and a company called Ava James immediately caught my eye.
Ava James NYC is a plus size designer workwear brand founded in 2018 by Eugena Delman and Saena Chung. I was pleased to set up an interview with Eugena as I was absolutely intrigued by her story and wanted to learn more about her company. We had an amazing two-hour conversation that covered just about everything—from the initial process, goals, and challenges of building her company, to sharing experiences working in the fashion industry.
Eugena is a mother of two and founded Ava James while she was pregnant with her second child. After working for almost 10 years in finance at Goldman Sachs, Eugena quit her job and pursued her own company which was inspired by her sister. Her sister, who resides in Hong Kong, explained how difficult it was to find fashionable and appropriate work wear clothing in size 14. Clothing that was offered in her size were either poorly made, unfashionable, or didn’t fit properly. Many times her size wasn’t offered in stores, which made it even more difficult to find decent clothing to wear. Eugena discovered that in terms of quality and price, there seemed to be a plethora of options on the end and several options on the high end; however, there seemed to be a dearth of product in the middle tier, the "affordable luxury" segment. Many premium designers, both European and American seemed to stop production beyond sizes 10 and 12.
She realized that there was an entire market missing in the plus size world. Those who wore size 8-14 fall within a grey area when shopping for high quality clothing: they're either too big for “regular” size clothing, or too small for real plus size clothing. To put that into perspective, “real” plus size clothing ranges from size 14-28. Eugena took this opportunity and partnered with Saena to create a work wear clothing line that catered to this market.
What changes do you want to see in the fashion industry?
“We need more designers for the plus size market. A lot of people who start their lines start with smaller sizes because its easier. There’s lots of extra cost in the plus size market and the industry is not focused on it.”
Within five months of endless hard work, Ava James NYC was launched on Labor Day weekend. Their collection consists of five styles, each feminine yet powerful and suitable for work and a night out. Ava James offers size 8-18, and the entire line is manufactured in a local factory in NYC where Eugena is actively involved with every step of the process to ensure quality and fit. Eugena’s approach to developing this collection is to start small, then focus on organic growth based on how the market reacts.
What is your favorite thing about Ava James?
“I never thought that I would enjoy being creative. I have a collaborative relationship with my partner. We spend a lot of time researching and its just really fun.”
As we continued to discuss behind the scenes work leading up to the launch of her collection, I could sense her excitement and undeniable passion for her products. Her goal is to present women with more options in fashionable work appropriate clothing, and to eventually expand her business on a global scale.