In the beginning I was told that if I created a plus size line that it would ruin my business and I said, “Are you kidding me?” A lot of people told me that. We knew we were not reaching everyone. To have a brand that claims, along with the press, that there is something for everybody. I feel like it is my duty as a woman to make sure that all women should feel good, why should only five sizes of women feel good?
Tulin: What I love about you and your line is that you are not afraid of plus, instead you embrace it. When did you get started and how long have you been doing this?
Rachel: I started Rachel Pally in 2002 right after college and I introduced the White Label Collection (plus size) in 2007. I was pushing for the plus size line and the feedback I was getting from my sales team was that they didn’t have the right connections and how were they going to be able to get the White Label Collection out there.
We initially launched the White Label Collection with Nordstrom exclusively, as I really wanted to do this line. At the time there wasn’t anybody doing contemporary fashion for plus size women. I am not doing plus size fashion I am doing contemporary fashion that accommodates women in a larger size range. The only thing we really change for the White Label Collection is we will take a spaghetti strap and make it bra friendly, or if there is a super deep V we will offer a panel to make it a bit more modest. Not because this is what the consumer wants but because this is what the store wants.
Tulin: I remember the first time I saw your line in Nordstrom about five years ago on display. It was an off the shoulder dress and I thought, “That dress is ME” and when I touched the fabric I fell even more in love, it was so yummy! What has the response to the collection been like at this point?
Rachel: The initial response to the collection was that creating the White Label Collection was too risky, bad for my business, and image. From the plus size women, I get love letters all the time! I print them out and save them! The women write to me to thank me saying things like, “I am young and I am beautiful and I really just want something to wear that makes me feel that way!”
I was so disappointed by what I saw available with plus size retailers. It was so frumpy, so missy, there wasn’t anything that was contemporary. Once I saw the styles available, I knew that I had to create the White Label Collection. Seeing what was actually readily available to the plus size woman was really a catalyst.
My size fluctuates, I have friends who are all sizes, and there is no reason why people have to wear Mom jeans. The initial response from the retailers were, “I’m not sure, we will start small.” Then the initial response from women was “Oh my gosh, thank you, I want more!”