Wednesday, June 05, 2013

SimplyBe Blogger Take Over Manchester

My little blog is about a year and a half old, yet in all that time have I gone to a single event, meet up or clothes swap? Nope because I am big scaredy cat! I've seen plenty of opportunities and let them go by, but no more! 

On Monday the wonderful Lauren of Pocket Rocket Fashion tweeted that she had extra places at the SimplyBe Blogger Take Over event in Manchester, as a Mancunian and fashion lover I could not refuse. So I tweeted her and two days later I was walking into The Brindley Room and eyeing up some seriously hot plus size fashion. (And the other ladies were alright too. :P)

(Laura, Em and Lauren in there own designs for SimplyBe)

As you may know three bloggers were picked by SimplyBe to design their own pieces for the brand. These lucky three were Lauren (Pocket Rocket Fashion), Laura (What Laura Loves) and Em (Oh The Places You'll Go), as I was early I ended up slightly awkwardly sitting at a table with them. This did give me a great view of their dresses, which they wore for the event. Each dress is a great representation of each women, Lauren's ice cream & hot pink creation shows her quirky often irreverent style, while Laura's pink, floaty chiffon party dress is a reflection of her girly, glamorous personality and Emma's gorgeous form fitting, ruched dress with peacock inspired print speaks of her classic, chic, elegant style.

There really is something for everyone with these dresses, while I do like Laura and Emma's designs its definitely Lauren's that caught my eye personally. Lauren even sited me as the kind of person she was thinking about when she was coming up with the dress, cue much blushing from yours truly!

First up were several talks and presentations, including two videos which will be up on the SimplyBe blog by the end of the week, first off by the bloggers themselves talking about the process of designing their dresses. It was really interesting to hear how they came up with their ideas and how SimplyBe really gave them free reign on their dresses while keeping in mind what is physically possible to make. There was plenty of times for questions and I really enjoyed the informal, conversational atmosphere of the event, it definitely wasn't as nerve wracking as I had expected.

Two of the SimplyBe buyers talked about their jobs and gave us any idea of how collections are made from inspiration, trends to the finished garment on your back. The whole SimplyBe team were magnanimous and so obviously passionate about what they were doing. One thing I picked up on from the buyers, which I was not aware of previously was that SimplyBe has ethical factories, that are over the next few years going to bring in more measures to ensure that people are paid properly and given the safest working environment that can be achieved. This really impressed me as its something that I often think about, especially in "fast fashion" places, such as Primark which have such bad ethical codes in their factories.

Lunch was also provided and I would show you pictures, but I didn't take any because I was filling my face. Lets just saw it was yummy. I had a lovely time talking to Lauren, Lisa and Em about plus size fashion models and the way that the public reacts to truly plus size models.

To the side of the room was 5 rails, one for the in house brands at SimplyBe, one for swimwear and another two for the SimplyBe autumn/winter collection. After lunch we all had a rummage through and a chat to the SimplyBe team who told us to be candid as possible whether we loved or loathed the clothes.

From here the post will become incredibly image heavy.
All iPhone pics, I'm afraid.
One of the main trends for A/W '13 is all things Gothic.
You can only imagine how happy this made me!

This means: lashings of black, pleather, cross details, studs, vertical stripes, skulls, sheer and collars.

 Little Velvet Shorts with pockets!
(I have to get these and I have a feeling Rachel "Queen of Shorts" over at A Dress Is For Life will feel the same.)

 Grey and black vertical striped skinny jeans.

 Pleather skirt with a big gathered, elastic waist.

 Sheer, black shirt with large studded crosses across the chest.
(This is a definite buy for me! I absolute gushed about to one of the buyers, Natalie, who already owns it! The perks of working for the brand, where do I sign up?)

 Textured, almost fuzzy knitwear with pu trim around the collar.
(I am seriously in love with this, it is perfect for a a slouchy, casual, but still edgy winter outfit)

 Grey mixed knit with a white metal tipped collar.

 Black and white vertical striped button down shirt.

Black leather biker jacket with studded shoulders
(One of many leather jackets! Heaven!) 

Black maxi dress with a large gold gothic cross & skull print.
(Sorry for the bad picture, but this was really lovely, you don't often see gothic prints like this in most retailers.)

White t-shirt with skull and wings graphic and "Dark Queen" quote.
(Gasp! Something that isn't black. Dark Queen is my new summer look.)

 Pink kilt skirt with buckles and tartan swatch which I may be made in too!

These pieces are from the brands that will be sold within SimplyBe (you know like Grazia, Lovedrobe, AX Paris, etc) as far as I am aware, though please correct me if I'm wrong!

Sorry about the picture quality of these they were right next to a window and I didn't think to move them and then take the pictures!

 Black bodycon dress with mesh, polka dot sleeves.

Black leather (more likely pleather) trousers.
(Get in my life.)

Sleeveless black, pepulm top with pu panels and trim.
(Not into the little cut out personally.)

Black, layered, sleeveless tunic.
(This is seriously beautiful, I can see it being great in any wardrobe, but think of the layering potential of this piece in an alternative/gothic person's wardrobe? Oh the possibilities!)

 Silver quilted biker jacket
(This caused some controversy, some people hated it! I love the silver and think it would killer over a black dress, but I'm not in love with the stitch details.)

Dark grey leather jacket with small stud details on the shoulder.

The Best Is Saved For Last:

If SimplyBe don't produce these two I will cry because I need them in my wardrobe stat and so do you!

 Blue fur coat of pure awesome.

This was a marmite piece for everyone at the event, I am in the love it category.  Its a cookie monster jacket! I've lusted after this kind of jacket for years and have seen similar things on countless straight size people, so I am so happy to see SimplyBe really pushing themselves toward a more edgy aesthetic


Black, quilted pleather, midi pencil skirt with zip through.

I think everyone loved this, when the team took it out when they were talking about trends there was a little collective "mmm" in the crowd! I think its a really lovely piece, that you would never have found in a plus size store a few years ago. I honestly think this would be a great investment pieces because as much as its "trendy" with the quilted detail, its also very classic in shape and material. I can see myself wearing this a lot, from days out to events, I think its very versatile.

I'm sure soon enough others will blog about the other pieces that were on show, but these were my personal favourite picks. Don't worry colour lovers, there was plenty for you too!

After we went through the clothes, there was even a section where we gave feedback about the different brands and sections of SimplyBe that exist. It was really gratifying to see the whole team really paying attention to what we were saying and taking it all down. Often as a plus size consumer it feels like we're not heard by big brands, especially down to small details like cutouts, cold shoulders (some love it, other hate it).

I have to be honest, I am not a huge SimplyBe buyer, I have a lovely kaftan from them and a few other pieces, but I've always mentally labelled them a bit too feminine and floral for me. That prejudice has been totally wiped away for me and it was especially lovely talking to the buyers and expressing how I felt about the clothes. I am very happy they're embracing all things dark in autumn/winter and will definitely be keeping a look out for them in the future.

So, what are you lusting after from the SimplyBe A/W collection?

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