Over the past decade or so, more and more fashion labels and media have been scrutinized for their perpetuating theme that trendy clothing is only available or looks good on very thin women. This is exactly why the Lane Bryant sister label, Sonsi, has taken action toward hearing what women size 14 and up have to say about their bodies. This effort has been aptly named Sonsi's CQ, or Curvey Quotient, Test. An astonishing 7,000 women have taken the test and Sonsi feels like they have a firm grasp on how women feel on the subject - giving them the upper-hand in the business world of fashion to other full-figured brands. The woman behind the CQ Test is Kristen Mongello, the E-Commerce Director of Sonsi, and here is her take on the feedback, the brand, and the "movement."
(Note: this interview was completed during the time 1,000 women had participated in the Sonsi CQ Test)
You are the E-Commerce Director of Sonsi, a plus size retailer. What about this particular work do you find most rewarding?
I feel like I am part of a movement. The plus size community has come so far over the past few years: national fashion magazines are featuring monthly columns dedicated to plus size women, plus size celebrities are being featured on the covers of these magazines, there are full figured fashion weeks, and for the first time ever, a plus size designer walked the runway during NY Fashion Week. My work at Sonsi helps to move the plus size community forward.
Recently, you coordinated a survey for plus size women on how they perceive themselves. What do the results tell you about women and how does this affect the plus size fashion industry?
We surveyed 1,000 women sizes 14 and up. The women told us through the survey that they admire other women’s curves but not their own. While the vast majority of plus size women (85 percent) say they believe that beautiful bodies come in all shapes and sizes, fewer than half (49 percent) say that they embrace their own curves.
There’s a confidence gap among plus size women. But the good news is, we have created a solution! Inspired by the voices of 1,000 plus size women, Sonsi has created the industry’s first Curvy Quotient (CQ) Test, and a host of resources to help women Boost Their CQ! The CQ test measures a woman’s style, confidence and willingness to embrace her curves. The two minute test is a fun way to engage the plus size community.
How can Sonsi help boost plus size women’s self-confidence in the design process?
Sonsi will help women boost their CQ though the host of resources on our website. We’ve broken the CQ Test results into three categories: Confidently Curvy, Comfortably Curvy and Cautiously Curvy. The resources including a curated collection and styling tips are tailored to each category. In addition, we are encouraging women to share their personal style tips with each other through our social media sites.
How much do you believe these survey results will affect Sonsi’s marketing, if any?
We learned through our survey plus size women are looking for fashion inspiration. The women need help creating outfits. 33% of plus size women surveyed said that not knowing how to put outfits together is holding them back from embracing their curves. Sonsi.com will provide curated collections to help assemble outfits in addition to providing styling tips.
The survey revealed that plus size find their fashion inspiration from their plus size peers and plus size style icons. Based on this finding, we will partner with plus size bloggers and share their outfitting tips on our blog, sonsiliving.com.
If you could change one thing about the plus size fashion industry, what would it be?
Plus size women told us to tell the fashion industry one thing: Please call us “normal, average, beautiful”! They don’t want any special treatment…they just want to be included. They want to wear the trends, too.