There’s not many places where women above a size 12 can shop for stylish, quality workwear. But, former fashion editor and plus-size model Lauren Chan has an answer: Henning, a body-positive line of fashion-forward clothing geared toward women in the workforce. Chan was motivated to create the line after she struggled to find stylish clothing she could wear to work. “Henning is inspired by all the things I wish I had in my closet,” she tells Teen Vogue.
While the brand is planning a launch this fall, their Instagram page reveals a sneak peak of what’s to come: pieces like structured trench coats, striped button-down shirts, a grid print blazer. Henning’s workwear puts an emphasis on style more than any other workwear brand I’ve seen in the plus-size market, since I started covering it as a fashion assistant over 10 years ago.
The brand also stands out for making consumer feedback a priority. Months before the launch, Chan’s already started a focus group, sitting down with 30 women to talk about “the biggest issues they [face] when shopping for clothes for work,” she wrote on Instagram, from ill-fitting button down shirts to pants that are “never the right length.” Her focus extends beyond finding out about how clothes fit, but Chan also talks with plus-sized women about their lived experiences in the workplace. She recently posted a conversation on IG TV with Allure digital director Kelly Bales and influencer Kelly Augustine about how they navigate identity politics in professional work environments. It’s clear that women‘s empowerment is a core component of the Henning brand, which is why Lauren decided to announce the launch the same week as International Women‘s Day.
Lauren Chan: I started Henning because despite writing about the plus-size market through my work as an editor, talking to readers and followers about style at any size on social, and creative directing some clothing collaborations with big retailers, I still couldn’t find the things I wanted to wear to work. Henning is meant to fill the void that exists in fashion above a size 12: high-quality, fashion-minded pieces that make women feel as capable and powerful as they are.
TV: Tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind the line.
LC: Simply put: Henning is inspired by all the things I wish I had in my closet. I don’t want the vision to be singular, though. So, we launched social media and email programs a few months ahead of our product launch in order to hear what our future customers are missing in their work wardrobes.
LC: Plus-size fashion has come a long way in the past few years. We’ve seen direct-to-consumer brands like Universal Standard expand sizing up to size 40; we’ve seen major retailers like Nordstrom merchandise all sizes together on their floors; we’ve seen influencer brands like Premme push the style envelope; we’ve seen online retailers like 11 Honoré bring designers like Joseph Altuzarra and Brandon Maxwell into the space. That said, there’s still a lot left to do. Women in this demographic still need more brands that treat them like top-notch customers, not afterthoughts. That means more high-quality options, more fashion-forward options, more places to shop in person, more community initiatives, more transparency from the company, et cetera — that’s what we are trying to do at Henning.