How this size-based model caught the attention of Stacey Abrams
Imagine working in an industry that doesn't accept you. This is how former fashion editor and curve model Lauren Chan felt for almost a decade. "I came to work everywhere shine Offices to the set of Today's show and fashion weeks around the world, and my smaller co-workers wore designer clothes while I was referred to cheap fast fashion, "she says. Recognizing the problem of size inclusiveness in fashion and doing something about it was long overdue. Chan, who identified as plus – greatness itself, made its own way by stepping on the runway for Chromat – no less in a swimsuit – and accepting the terrible online vitriol that followed with grace and humility.) For her recent endeavor, Chan has the Moved from striving and editing to full-fledged design. Their new brand called Henning (a game on the word "hen" meant to mean women come together) is a line of high-quality, bespoke workwear specifically for curvy women, including proxy attorney Stacey Abrams and Congressman Cori Bush, who recently wore Henning on the cover of Teen Vogue. We met Chan to talk about her company, what it was like to dress Abrams, and her mission to destigmatize plus size women.
POPSUGAR: What inspired you to start your own line?
Lauren Chan: Although I had invested in discovering emerging brands for years as an accomplished plus-size consumer and fashion editor, I could never find a desirable luxury brand that made clothes my size. The message I picked up over time was that I was of less worth than her – the very message that fashion sends by keeping plus size women out of the luxury talk. And I'm sick of it. Henning wants to change that narrative by telling women of all sizes that they are high quality people.
PS: Who is your ideal customer?
LC: Women over size 12 who yearn for timeless, ethical clothing with designer caliber. They're usually professionals – from gallery owners to lawyers – in metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. It may sound cheesy, but every customer is my dream customer. Interacting with the Henning community is the best part of my job! And I can run my company most securely when my personal communication channels are open to you. I often rely on our Facebook group when I need help with average body measurements, opinions on colors, identifying important influencing factors, etc. We even launched Henning's social program ahead of our official branding to create space for me to talk to the community with no sales corner. Same today, so our group is talking about things like keeping the head upright during the pandemic and our favorite black creators.
"Henning is there to reinforce the rare message that plus size women can be anything and achieve anything."
PS: Is there a piece from the current collection that particularly attracts attention?
LC: Simple: the Hudson leather jacket ($ 1,595) – and it seems to be the current customer favorite too! The first thing people say when they try on this jacket is something like, "This is what I was trying to find!" Regardless of the colloquial language, the point is that these people all had the same experience: they wanted a leather jacket à la Saint Laurent or Acne Studios and could never find one in their size. The same applies here. Instead, I wore faux leather knockoffs from fast fashion brands for years that look cheap and crack after a cold spell. I wanted something that was made more consciously from high-quality materials and that would last a lifetime – and above all something that made me feel like I belonged to something luxurious.
PS: How has your time in the publishing and modeling industry influenced your approach to design?
LC: During my time as a plus-size model and editor, I've seen every possible fashion design on the planet. For a while it got me off track with my personal style because I was so excited about all the wonderful, very different designs. Over time, I took note of what I felt most comfortable in: chic and no-frills suits, neutral knitwear, soft button-downs, jeans, sneakers, boots, and menswear-inspired outerwear. You could take a look at Henning and see how much my personal style affects my design!
PS: How did you react to Stacey Abrams who Henning wears?
LC: First of all, I have to say how proud we are to ever attract Leader Abrams – let alone on a historic election day! – because it represents everything that the brand and I stand for. Henning is there to reinforce the rare message that plus size women can be anything and achieve anything. Leader Abrams proves time and again that we are no less intelligent, ambitious, or powerful than our normal size colleagues. that we belong everywhere from Senate elections to luxury fashion debates; and when we internalize these feelings, we can change the world in our own individual way. The last time I met Abrams, I was sick of just thinking about it. I hope to be able to attract everyone who is like Leader Abrams in the world of politics – and, by the way, anyone who helps Henning contribute to the destigmatization of plus size women.
Scroll down to purchase our Henning picks.