Eden Miller, stylist and designer of curvy clothing brand Cabiria, recently shared with me what it’s like to design “whimsical and sensual” fashions for the curvy girl.
1. Question: What do you feel is Cabiria’s biggest point of difference?
Answer: Cabiria is different because I use fabrics and craftsmanship that would be perfectly at home with other high-end designers in Barney’s, Fred Segal, Bergdorf Goodman, or Henri Bendel. I am not satisfied with the direction that many brands have gone, using lower quality fabrics and fewer fit details in order to meet the trend-obsessed, low-cost popular marketplace standards now.
2. Question: What is your favorite piece in the current collection? Why?
Answer: I really have no favorites, as I designed them all and culled the other designs to come up with these choice pieces. I think they are figure flattering on many different bodies, and are all made from beautiful fabrics. I wear them every day and I’m happy with them every day.
3. Question: What did you like best and least about being in Berlin’s Fashion Week and the “Curvy is Sexy” trade show?
I liked seeing how the major European plus size vendors work at a professional trade show, and how things are shown at vanity shows for fans*, not buyers, as they are here in the States.
I was incredibly unhappy to find that the “Curvy Is Sexy” show was entirely across town from the main fashion shows and how deeply understaffed it was in comparison; frankly, the plus size show was not going to draw any new vendors from the main shows. There is no reason plus size cannot have a hall in the main selling spaces, as accessories, shoes, and outerwear did. We are separate and definitely not equal.
4. Question: Was the attitude toward plus size fashion different in Germany than in the US? If so, how?
There are different market attitudes everywhere and the collections shown in Germany from all over Europe had a very accessible shape and variety in fabrication, but wasn’t very colorful. I find that the diversity of customer in the US causes a wider degree of choice, though the quality was much higher in Europe overall.
5. Question: Why do you think so many designers do not want to create plus size clothes?
Answer: I can’t speak for them, and I don’t know why they wouldn’t expand their business models and the potential for profits by extending their product lines to include curvy women.
6. Question: What would you say to critics who claim that encouraging women to accept their bodies will add to the obesity epidemic?
Answer: There will always be critics and those who create. I think that it’s much easier to be self-loathing and accept current social opinions than take a stand and live without fear of other people’s opinions and criticisms.
7. Question: Do you plan to eventually create men’s clothes? Why or why not?
Answer: I don’t have any interest in creating men’s clothes because it’s a completely different marketplace with different rules. I also don’t have any plans to create shovels or lawn equipment; I think it’s that different.
8. Question: Are you planning to open more stores in the near future? If so, where?
Answer: Cabiria was recently picked up by Ms SVG in the UK, which is our first store outside the US, so that will hopefully lead to a larger global reach. I’m always interested in being carried in more brick and mortar stores where the buyers have discernment and taste; I can’t compete for the same clientele that will buy a $20 dress, because it’s again like selling lawn equipment. Totally different market.
9. Question: What are your hopes for Cabiria and yourself over the next 5 years?
I would love to grow Cabiria into a household name and I would love to create diffusion lines which incorporate my design elements, that would be licensed to people who truly know their customers and how to sell in those specialized marketplaces.
I really hope the marketplace evolves enough to stop differentiating between straight size and plus size fashion, and the delineation becomes about high quality and low quality instead, because that’s what should matter most, not size!
*Words in italics are used by the author, not interviewee, for emphasis.