These luxury clothes are made specifically for the women who get continually screwed when it comes to minimalist fashion. The founder, Ayanna Wu, partnered with brands like Hackwith Design House, Shaina Mote, and Benjamin Jay. They all agreed to upgrade their patterns to offer each of their unique collections in extended sizes for the first time, just for Mei Smith. Wu promises the site will offer fashionable shirt dresses and cool girl clothes that the larger markets just don’t have enough of. If you can find a thousand flowy print maxi dresses in department store hell, then this site is the stylish alternative. Wu doesn’t wear clothes 12 and up herself, but when she shopped for her teenage sister who did, she was annoyed at the lack of good options.
We hit her up for her thoughts on the terms that describe curvy girl fashion, the future of fashion sizes, and why she chose her brands.
So what specific kinds of items and styles were you unable to find in the markets for larger sizes?
Specifically, I was unable to find designer collections that had a minimal aspect to it in the market. Many of the “plus” brands feature prints, patterns, graphics, etc. I wanted to provide something different for this consumer, in terms of merchandise and presentation.
Because I cannot thank everyone enough! It is such a surreal feeling to see something I've been visioning for years actually come to life. I am eternally grateful to you all! Especially to you B! Huge thank yous to @jagmodels @adamkhughes @bianca_jp @thesabinakarlsson @marellewhite @tuddynana @heathlatter @justtach @_pollymaggoo @_gzeus and the awesomeness of @airbnb for making my first Mei Smith shoot a major success! xx Ayanna
When did you feel like this movement started gaining traction?
I feel like this movement started slowly gaining traction a couple of years ago, like 4-5 years ago. I think it was major when Asos launched their Curve collection.
Can you explain why you chose each collaborator?
So besides Carmakoma, the other brands that I chose to collaborate with all produce within the United States. I think the dwindling of garment production in the U.S.A. is super heartbreaking. The Garment District in the city used to be the hub of fashion and production. So when I came across these brands and they in return loved what I wanted to do and wanted to work together, it was amazing. Not to pick favorites because I love all four brands Mei Smith is carrying, but one in particular, Hackwith Design House, has an amazing philosophy. They don’t believe in mass production so they produce less than 25 pieces of each style in their Minneapolis studio, each numbered 1/10, 2/10, etc. Each garment is truly special.
Do you ever anticipate addressing more of a range if the clothes take off?
Actually, my first intention was for Mei Smith to carry sizes 0-24. I don’t like the emphasis on sizes in the industry because everyone is built differently and the industry makes you seem abnormal if you aren’t within a specific size range. So, I wanted to carry every selected style from 0-24 but that didn’t pan out simply because I didn’t have the budget to do so. Therefore, at the moment I am focusing on 12-24, but I hope in the future to actually include the smaller sizes.
Can you speak a little bit about terms surrounding “curvy girl fashion”?
I’m not a huge fan of labels. We are all so different, it is crazy to try and box individuals into a category based off size. I know women who feel the plus-size label is necessary, I know women who don’t, some who like it, some who don’t. I personally just do not care for it. I think it is possible to say, “Hey here’s my line or store that carries such-and-such size” without having to label it for “curvy” women or “real” women or “plus-size” women. I cannot tell you how much I hate that “real” women phrase. Am I not a woman if I wear a size 4? A size 2? Am I a robot? A unicorn? What am I?
What do you see as the future?
I see the term “plus-size” not even being necessary in the future. I see the market as being one with the rest of the fashion industry in the future.
If fit is the reason for the site, how will you handle sizing?
I’m going to try and provide really great photos and measurements for each garment and model. I know fit is a major issue for every woman. So I really want to make sure the customer has an understanding of the fit of the garment before purchasing. Getting the right fit will always be a learning challenge, but I’m definitely up for it.
Any celebrities you would love to see wearing these clothes?
Mary Katrantzou, Rebel Wilson, Oprah, Melissa McCarthy, Mindy Kaling, and Amber Riley just to name a few. A random bunch but I think they would look pretty cool. Minimal aesthetics looks good on everyone.