A question occasionally asked of me (especially when I was first inspired to launch The-Bias-Cut.com all the way back in 2011) is: "How do you know what your customer wants?"
I'm very open about the fact that I'm in my 20s. Even if you havn't met me, its pretty easy to work it out from our "About" section and posts on social media. So, inevitably, the odd eyebrow is raised when I start talking so strongly about ageism, rebuilding image confidence, and The-Bias-Cut.com's focus on finding pieces that are both stylish, flattering on body shapes and cater to preferences that may have changed over time.
It's so important for me to speak to as many women as possible
Of course, when it comes to appreciating style itself, my age doesn't come into it. And, for that matter, nor does any other factor. Because if you really do love style, you can respect it from any angle. But when it comes to understanding more about what women truly want and value in their clothing and style, that's more sensitive. Which is why, since 2011, it's been so important for me to speak to as many women as possible; to hear their thoughts and life experiences, along with their changing priorities.
So when I was invited this week to speak to law firm Covington & Burling's Women's Forum to introduce The-Bias-Cut.com, I relished the opportunity to meet more strong, impressive women, and to hear their thoughts on style and the changes they'd like to see in the Fashion Industry.
Speaking this week at Covington's
In terms of the talk itself, I discussed The-Bias-Cut.com's core ethos and beliefs, whilst also explaining my journey so far and the hurdles I've had to face, as well as revealing top insider tips and highlighting key legal issues all new and creative businesses need to know (it was a law firm after all!).
Fashion still fails to hear and marginalises so many women
After I finished, and whilst everyone browsed The-Bias-Cut.com Collection, it was wonderful chatting to a whole range of different women - from trainees to partners - sharing thoughts on a mutual love of style, and hearing their pleasure at finding beautiful, quality, colourful clothing. And, what's more, the younger members of the audience were not put off by our use of maturer models and our passion for celebrating women over 40 - they still loved the pieces just as much, so take that prejudice designers and labels!
In terms of the common struggles many women still have, there was a particular focus on 'petite' and 'plus-sizes' (not that I like that term). And it wasn't a surprise. When it comes to designing garments, these women are often overlooked, with many designers not understanding how to - or wanting to - consider them. But, whilst I do believe the troubles curvier women have are becoming more widely recognised today, there still isn't much of a voice being given to petite women.
At 5ft 3" myself I struggle to find pieces that proportionately work (although, admittedly not as much as some). And I know its a problem a lot of you face. Ageism isn't the only issue. So, despite the clear obstacles in our way, we're really working on including more pieces ideal for curvier and petite ladies at The-Bias-Cut.com, and we do spend a long time searching for them. And it's why you can now shop by your shape, or other preferences such as areas you'd like to celebrate or cover (just hover over or click 'The Collection' menu link at the top to start). Because, whilst we often hone in on ageism, at our core is the belief that, whatever your age, shape, size or ethnicity, you can look gorgeous and stylish.
In that vein, we recently launched across social media:
We're calling upon the Fashion Industry, and society more widely, to really open their eyes and to recognise how many women are still marginalised - and we would love you to join in (we're on twitter, facebook, instagram and pinterest). Because, as well as tackling age-prejudice, we demand to see more petite and curvy styles. We need richer diversity amongst models. And we want more courses and modules that encourage bright young fashion students to embrace variety.
Every woman deserves to be seen and heard.
So thank you for all your comments and sharing your experiences so far. And please do keep them coming. Because I hear your cry. And, whilst there's a still a long road ahead, I can assure you, The-Bias-Cut.com is here to do something about it.