Clothes for curves: meet these women entrepreneurs making a difference with inclusive fashion startups
It can be a challenge for curvy people to find clothing in their sizes in stores and online. Fashion startups A Curve Story and The Pink Moon by women entrepreneurs Akanksha Savanal and Divya Goenka offer larger sizes, aiming to be more inclusive of bigger body types.
Walk into a clothing store, and one would usually find a very limited range of sizes. For a person with bigger build to find clothing in their size, and in prints or styles they like, is a challenge often overlooked by most.
We asked a few women about their experiences with fashion and finding clothes in their sizes. Here’s what they said:
“It’s like fashion brands are punishing you for being fat. I’m very passionate about fashion, but I never find clothes that are good enough. Clothes should be made to fit the body, not the other way around.”
“My sister and I once bought the same top in different sizes. She bought an extra small, and I bought an extra large. The top fit her so well, but mine was really boxy and shapeless.”
“It would be nice if we just had our sizes in stores, but most places consider it something beyond their reach. I also wish the collection of clothes available in regular sizes were available in plus sizes too.”
Aiming to make the shopping experience better for plus-size women, and people with bigger builds, women entrepreneurs Divya Goenka and Akanksha Savanal respectively launched The Pink Moon and A Curve Story.
They speak to HerStory about starting up and why it’s important to be inclusive of all sizes when it comes to clothing.
Akanksha Savanal, A Curve Story
Akanksha Savanal started her career at 18, assisting a Bollywood stylist for two years. She then went on to co-found a styling company, through which she got the opportunity to work with people in the film and entertainment industry. While she was working with them, she realised something. She says,
"While styling celebrities, I was quickly able to identify the vacuum for fashion options available in the curve segment. I felt the need to create a product that would bring fashion forward to this section that seemed neglected."
She had also seen many of her relatives struggle with buying clothes that fit their bodies, which further motivated her to do something about it, because she believes that everyone should be able to experience fashion, no matter their size.
In April this year, Akanksha launched A Curve Story, which she describes as “an inclusive clothing brand that is focussed on breaking societal biases and motivating people to be comfortable in their own skin.”
In August, the brand launched its campaign titled 'You Are Heard' to introduce statement t-shirts in limited edition prints.
"As a brand, we want to stand for issues such as body image issues, rights for LGBTQIA+ community, importance of mental health. The messages on t-shirts are hard hitting and thought provoking," Akanksha explains.
Two models from the LGBTQIA+ community were chosen for the campaign, and Akanksha says the brand is open to hiring more in the future, including transgender models.
A Curve Story stocks a wide size range, starting from UK 8 to UK 30. The brand is also open to creating a size outside of this range if a customer asks for it. The product range, which Akanksha says is gender neutral, is a mix of staples and occasion wear such as shirts, tops, skirts, suits, co-ord sets and dresses, all designed in-house.
The startup has a clientele of nearly 1,000, and most of its customers are women between the ages of 23 and 45, residing in West, North East and South India.
In the next couple of years, Akanksha aims to take A Curve Story offline, and establish physical stores and pop-up shops. She also sees the brand creating a global mark for its “attention to detail, great product quality, and stand towards inclusivity.”
On how more brands can be more inclusive, Akanksha says,
“Inclusivity in its true sense is adapted when every individual is treated equal, irrespective of body, viewpoint, beliefs, orientation, or gender - the usual grounds of discrimination. A slow, steady change is taking place but we still have a long way to go. This can be worked on by every brand, not just in the aspect of fashion but otherwise as well.”
Divya Goenka, The Pink Moon
Divya Goenka lived in the US for a decade, and shopping for clothes was never a struggle. In 2016, however, she moved back to India, and found it very difficult to find even a basic pair of jeans that fit her.
"Most brands with plus size options did not meet my style and aesthetics, or were very expensive,” she says.
So, Divya decided to launch The Pink Moon in 2018, to solve the problem of finding high quality clothes for plus size women.
Based in Bengaluru, The Pink Moon creates products in the western wear category, in sizes between Large and 6XL which are "mature and classic, in high quality fabrics, and reasonable price points." The brand also works closely with its customers, constantly working on improving its designs and creating clothes that can be worn repeatedly.
"We are not a fast fashion brand, and instead want to be known as a brand you can rely on when you want to feel good about yourself," Divya explains.
The fitting of the clothes at The Pink Moon have been created after collating over 150 measurements of plus size Indian woman. Divya also notes that there is a difference between the body shape of women in the country, and women in the west:
“Our shoulders are smaller, arm holes and biceps larger – it is these details that make our garments better than that of the industry.”
The brand is also focussed on being eco-friendly, and often uses fabrics that are on their way to the discard pile. They avoid getting fresh fabric woven for them, and stay away from dyeing and washing, since this adds to wastage. The brand also keeps their garments low in stock so that they aren’t stuck with a redundant inventory that may eventually have to be thrown away.
“We source all our fabrics primarily from Bengaluru, Tirupur, Erode, and Salem. We want to source locally to minimize our footprint on the environment caused by transportation across cities,” Divya adds.
The Pink Moon has nearly 7,000 customers across India, and most of them are working women between the ages of 30 and 40 from tier I and II cities. According to Divya, “They are confident, comfortable in their skin and want to look and feel their best as they go about their daily lives – whether it's at work, the gym, socialising or travelling.”
The Pink Moon’s collection, which offers jeans, jackets, tops, workout wear, dresses and more, can be found on its websites and platforms like Myntra, Amazon, Limeroad and AJIO.
On what other brands can do to be more inclusive of all sizes, Divya says,
“They need to understand their customers – their body types, measurements, fashion needs, and lifestyle. If every brand took the time to speak to their customers and walk in their shoes for a day they would create products that truly address their needs – whether that is in regards to larger sizes, more diverse trends, accessible price points or distribution channels.”
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)