Bringing Inclusivity to the Fashion Industry
It’s no secret that the fashion industry struggles with embracing size inclusivity. Body confidence and size inclusivity are two significant topics that many fashion designers and retailers just aren’t talking about seriously enough. I recently sat down with Andréanne Dandeneau, Fashion Designer/CEO at Anne Mulaire, to get her take on bringing inclusivity to the fashion industry.
Andréanne is a tiny spirit with a mighty vision. So, it’s no surprise that she has been pondering the idea of developing a more inclusive line for several years now. She’s worked ferociously as a woman entrepreneur for over 16 years, is recognized as a French-Métis woman, and recently married her partner last summer. Feeling the effects of marginalization is something Andréanne has become quite familiar with within her own life. “As a fashion designer, I am mindful of how my actions may affect others. In terms of body positivity, I knew I could do better. I could be better. When I learned that the average size of women today in Canada and the US is a size 14 or higher, I realized that by having my line end at a size 16-18, I wasn’t honouring all body shapes and sizes. I was only contributing to some of the societal pressures that I didn’t align with,” she added. “The size label on the inside of your clothing shouldn’t segregate you from having the opportunity to purchase sustainable and ethical clothing, and I wanted to amend this within my own clothing line and in my own heart.”
In our discussions about her goal for inclusive sizing in her brand in 2021, Andréanne shared her vision of becoming more than just a fashion brand. “I want to be an advocate for ALL women on the front of body positivity and self-acceptance. There is much work to be done.”
Wanting to launch inclusive sizing is one thing, implementing it effectively is something entirely different and complex. Many brands are currently offering inclusive sizing and I wanted to know what she was doing differently to help ALL women feel confident and safe when purchasing clothing for the first time from Anne Mulaire.
“The first and most important thing, even before working on production, is to sit down and actually listen to the women you are going to be designing for. This is the most critical step in the making of any new line or product, but is often the one step that is overlooked or devalued.” Andréanne adds: “There is so much power in the simple act of listening”.
Once she started to work on patterns that would bring her line to a size 6X she decided to also include the option of providing further custom sizing, to anyone desiring it. “I felt that if we were going to open the doors to inclusivity, I had to be fully committed to the cause”. She continued developing a set of new patterns for each style and created new samples. The team then reached out to the local community, inviting women to conduct individual production fittings. After receiving an incredible number of responses, Andréanne coordinated the first round of pattern trials. “We organized months of fittings, questionnaires, focus groups, and individual discussions with nearly 60 participating women. We were able to have important conversations around fit, style and feel, that would ultimately result in better designs.”
Andréanne shared one takeaway she learned while embarking on this experience: “It became quite clear early on that the idea of inclusivity was not linear, but rather symbiotic in nature with sustainability. To be an authentic and successful brand, you cannot have one without the other.” Consequently, she decided to offer her entire collection in the full new size range, providing everyone with the same choices. “It was important to me to keep my releases and collections together, not separate”. Andréanne also made the decision to keep her pricing equal for all sizes to honour cost inclusivity as well. She felt very passionate about using a combination of women from the fit trials with the usual models of her new Spring Release21 photoshoot. “These were women who were a part of this process from the very beginning, and I felt it only fitting to invite them to join us in representing all of the work we had collectively done together." she says.
As my time with Andréanne was coming to a close, I ended my interview with a final question. What is the one message that you would like to send to the rest of the fashion industry? Anne simply smiled and said:
“I would like to challenge every fashion designer, every fashion brand, to follow suit. To accept my challenge and to step up their game when it comes to inclusive sizing in the fashion industry”.
Powerful words coming from a tiny spirit.
Anne Mulaire’s A Better Fit For A Better World campaign is just one step forward for the company. Anne Mulaire hopes to offer a more in-depth customization program that will further accommodate all women in the future.
Want more content like this? Check out @annemulaire on Instagram for more sneak peeks and check out the first inclusivity release, the Milo Drape Sweater.
+ the Team