If you’re Canadian and have a TV, and maybe even a slight interest in anything fashion, you know Jeanne Beker. Former mime, MuchMusic VJ, host of the amazing and gone-too-soon Fashion Television, journalist, and generally timeless lady with great hair, Beker is the closest thing to Canadian royalty we’ve got (well, if you ignore that whole subject of the monarchy thing, that is). Beker also owns a relatively new clothing line called Edit, which offers petite, straight and plus sizes. Formerly only carried at The Bay, Edit sold quite well in the straight size market, at least from what I understand. Recently, Edit was picked up by Addition Elle and will start showing up in stores starting April 2013. I can only assume this means Edit plus will no longer be available at The Bay, but I’m not sure.
Earlier this week, Edit made their first reveal of the collection to industry types, and of course spilled some photos on twitter (like the one above, re-posted from @TOCityGossip). I’ll admit that I’m making this post largely because I’ll take any opportunity to talk about Jeanne Beker. I’ve always idolized her and her ridiculously natural ability to talk to anyone, anywhere, about anything. Any time I’ve had to interview a stranger, particularly an intimidating one, I’ve just pretended to be Jeanne, walking in my imaginary gigantic, uncomfortable heels like a boss and just getting things done. I also still mourn Fashion Television, a show that covered so many sides of the fashion business, and never made women feel bad about their bodies. That said, any news of a new or re-launched plus size line showing up in Canadian stores is a big deal, regardless of blogger bias. Edit, even though it’s already existed in one incarnation, is no exception.
Ask any Canadian, and you’ll hear the same story of how one company owns all three of our major retailers, of how lacking in diversity or downright abysmal their options can be, and of our very limited selection of independent shops. Just don’t ask about online shopping, because we don’t need any more salt in the wounds left from being constantly gouged by customs and shipping. Point is, anything new is good news up here. And Edit, at least right now, definitely sounds like good news.
According to this article, Beker is inclined to trade in the plus size business because she has a friend and sister who are plus sized, and she’s familiar with just how crappy the clothing situation is for them. So, she has a heart. Awesome. She’s also a brilliant businesswoman, and she knows that there is a viable market of women who are desperate for clothes they actually want to wear. She acknowledges in the article that Edit’s plus side wasn’t entirely successful. Some pieces couldn’t stay on the shelves while others still haunt the deepest, darkest, most discounted corners of the store. So, she claims to have listened to her target market about what went wrong. These are the same complaints I see in every fatshion forum I’ve ever visited: unappealing prints, clothing that’s too delicate and youthful (Beker calls this “missy,” which is kind of perfect), clothing that lacks trendiness and edginess. This is the thing that made me really excited about the collection. Here’s a straight sized person actually being able to articulate some of the things the plus size market has problems with. Someone’s done their research for a change, and has put out a mandate to actually give them what they want.
The real question is, will it?
Edit’s philosophy right off the bat was to provide fashionable basics. The plus size line at The Bay was definitely that - a few jackets, tanks, slacks, and dresses, mostly in dark tones. The re-launched Edit is sticking with that formula, promising tanks, tunics, cardigans, sheer shirts, jeans and cropped pants, but in a brighter, trendier palette of light neutrals and pastels for spring. Unfortunately from this limited preview, it doesn’t look like the revolution will be dressed in Edit just yet.
There’s a great classic, vintage feel to the colours, and that pastel pink is really lovely and hard to find in the Canadian plus market. The printed skinny jeans and pink pants also seem to fit the leg remarkably well. Finding a true skinny and true straight leg pant often involves leaving the country, so this is a good sign. However, I’ve seen almost all of this in Addition Elle stores before. The preview shows me a lot of what plus size basics already look like, shows the kind of clothes that I know I can count on seeing every time I visit a Reitmans-owned store. I was really hoping for more than a sequined shell, a clingy jersey top, mid-rise denim, shapeless sheer button-ups, and those ubiquitous A-line tanks that hang from a circle around your neck (I can’t seem to find if they have a proper name). It looks very airy and very spring, but it also reads as very feminine and pretty, and I’m not sure if these pieces are giving off the kind of hip, fashion-forward edge Beker wanted to deliver.
Still, I welcome this collection with open arms. My criticism is based only on 7 of the collection’s 19 pieces. Not every piece is designed for every audience, and this is probably a good thing. The most important thing in the Canadian plus size market is for this collection to have a little something for everyone, to expand on a currently limited selection and offer customers something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to find, be it in terms of style, or fit, or quality. There is still huge promise for Edit to be capable of this, and I’m really excited to see the whole thing. The collection is coming from exactly the right place, which is partly why I’m judging this initial snippet so harshly. Couple that with the line’s willingness to listen to the customer, and there’s no reason why Edit can’t offer great clothes. Here’s hoping Edit will have a beautiful future on the Addition Elle shelves… and maybe some of those gorgeous nude pumps in a 10W to match?
If anyone has more pics from the preview, or more info about the Edit re-launch, please share!