When Lauren Chan announced that she was working on a line of plus-size workwear, I was immediately excited. Chan is a Canadian model, now based in New York, and the former fashion editor at Glamour. She always rocks the most devastatingly chic looks, so I knew that if anyone could get this right, it’s her.
True enough, she started with the right approach. Rather than assuming what her customers would want, over the last six months she polled her Instagram followers about their preferences (stretch vs no stretch, solid colours vs prints). The result is exactly what the market has been missing: a collection of 12 stunning work-to-party pieces available in sizes 12 through 24. (Seriously, these pieces are so chic that Henning was written up in Vogue on its official launch day last week.) And the contruction and detail is just as impressive: think reinforced inner-thigh seams, anti-gaping buttons and hidden elastic waistbands.
For Chan, the response so far has been nothing short of overwhelming. I spoke with her after her wildly successful launch week about her favourite pieces from the line, how she plans to grow her business and why “dressing for your body” is total BS.
What inspired you to launch Henning?
Working in fashion, I had never been able to wear anything that was on par with any of my colleagues. And with the clothing I did have available to me, there were some specific incidents that are scarred into my memory. When I was on my way to my first cover interview (which is the biggest test you can have as a journalist at a magazine), my pants split up the butt while I was getting into my Uber. I had to do the interview with my bare butt on the chair. So, I always felt like I didn’t quite belong.
What are some of the key pieces that you really wanted to include in the first collection?
I wanted a power suit or two, a knockout dress to wear to after-work events and I really wanted a high-quality coat. I used to buy designer bags so that I could make myself look more put together; I would have liked to have had a coat like this to take my look up a notch.
Why is communication with your customers so important?
We’re here to make all of our customers’ lives better and feel as powerful as they can, and it doesn’t make sense to not include them on that journey.
One thing that surprised me in our focus groups was that at a luxury price point, people said that they preferred basic colours over things with patterns. I was toying with making more things in black and navy, and I’m really glad that we added the brown pants and the green dress and the baby blue suit, because those are things that people are really excited about. And fuck the trope that plus-size people have to wear only black. That’s not a message that I wanted to put out into the world.
What are your biggest goals as Henning continues to evolve?
I’d like to expand the size range. Right now, we have pre-order forms on our product pages to start pre-order conversations with anyone who wants to buy pieces in above a size 24.
Lauren's favourite looks This midi-length green satin dress is perfect for work-to-play. Lauren chose to make it sleeveless so that a jacket can easily be worn over it. After Hours Dress, $653, henningnyc.com
After Hours Dress
Lauren's favourite looks
This midi-length green satin dress is perfect for work-to-play. Lauren chose to make it sleeveless so that a jacket can easily be worn over it.
After Hours Dress, $653, henningnyc.com
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