Designer Christian Siriano is one of the most notable names in fashion to embrace size inclusivity beyond a single-season trend. His new brand, C. Wonder, offers lower-priced clothes. After being announced late last year, C. Wonder launched its first collection this week in collaboration with HSN, continuing the extended sizing ethos Siriano has brought to his namesake brand.
But just as Siriano is pushing forward with making clothes for all sizes, he’s said we’re seeing backslide of that progress across the industry. It’s evident just from looking at the runways of the major brands at fashion week that there’s less inclusivity than before. And that’s to mention that brands like Old Navy are pulling back from initial plans to offer more sizes.
“It’s sad,” Siriano said. “A lot brands jumped on it as a trend to get clicks and get attention, rather than actually making it a part of their long-term business. I work really hard to do this and I’m not even a billion-dollar brand. Someone like Louis Vuitton or Dior could do it so much easier.”
The new brand, for which Siriano serves as creative director, offers sizes from XS-3X, plus some petite and tall sizes. All retail for $40-$150.
While C. Wonder will be sold in a few wholesale channels like Nordstrom Rack and Walmart, Siriano said he’s feeling more confident than ever in keeping his namesake brand DTC only, a move he made last year. He said retailers can be a hindrance to his goal of creating inclusive collections. When the brand first sold on Moda Operandi, the site didn’t offer its customers the option to pre-order styles in Christian Siriano’s full size range.
“We had to beg them to change their website and let people pre-order a size 20 and, to their credit, they did,” Siriano said. “It was a big decision to step away from wholesale. It was a big leap. But I couldn’t stand that we had no control.”
C. Wonder’s lower price point is also notable in the current inflationary environment. Siriano said he’s resisting increasing prices for as long as possible, even as shipping and production costs have increased. His goal is to keep the entire brand under $200.
C. Wonder isn’t technically a new brand. It was originally launched in 2011 by venture capitalist J. Christopher Burch, who ran the company until it went bankrupt in 2015. It was then purchased by Xcel Brands with television personality Brad Goreski as creative director. Now, Xcel is relaunching the brand once more with Siriano at the helm.
And as for marketing, Siriano said he’s mostly stopped talking specifically about the inclusivity of his brands, preferring to let the clothing speak for itself. At this point, he’s known as a designer who keeps women of more sizes in mind, and so getting the sizes on the racks is more important than marketing them, he said. The market for plus-size fashion is nearly $200 billion in the U.S. alone.
“We just opened a new [Christian Siriano] store in Connecticut, and people come in and are like, ‘I can’t believe my size is on the rack!’” Siriano said. “And, honestly, that’s all there is to [marketing them]. We make clothes in those sizes, so there they are. I don’t want it to be such a big deal anymore.”