The retailer tapped designer Danielle Williams-Eke to create a line of elevated basics.
When Patrick Herning launched 11 Honoré back in 2017, he did so with a simple plan: Make entering the plus-size space as easy as possible for luxury fashion brands. By partnering with them to get pattern and fit right (and thus removing those road blocks), he rationalized, the company could help them tap into a customer who had spent too long ignored by the industry. Three years later, 11 Honoré has brought labels ranging from Christopher Kane to Carolina Herrera to a whole new base.
But Herning is not content to stop there.
So many of the offerings on 11 Honoré are special, luxury pieces — perfect for big occasions or dressing up. Herning knew that what was missing were the easy, everyday clothes that women live their lives in. As he says, "At the end of the day, sometimes it's like, 'What am I wearing to the grocery store? What am I wearing to get coffee with the girls?'"
The answer to that is 11 Honoré's brand-new private label collection, which officially launched on Monday. The retailer brought on designer Danielle Williams-Eke to create a line of those perfect, luxurious staples that are meant to seamlessly fill those gaps in the customer's wardrobe.
Williams-Eke came recommended by former colleagues, and both say they hit things off from the start. "I took one look at the mood board and I was like, she totally gets it. It was like she crawled into my creative head," Herning says. The design director agrees: "We've been on the same page throughout this process," she adds.
Inspired by the likes of Donna Karan's legendary "seven easy pieces" collection, the 11 Honoré private label features slinky tees and loose, wide-legged pants, ranging in price from $168 to $568. Williams-Eke says that fit was the obsession here: Every single fabric used has at least some stretch, and she worked on a live fit model who was a true 18 instead of using a bust form. To ensure the grading was right, she had co-workers ranging from a size 12 to a size 26 try on the line and noted where the pattern had perhaps gotten too long or a sleeve too tight. The VP of client services also gave input on feedback she'd received from customers. But ultimately, the design of the line comes down to Williams-Eke following her intuition.
"There was feedback from a lot of people — which can sometimes be a lot — but I wanted to take it all in and really decided how to move forward," Williams-Eke explains. "The beauty of it is that we all feel very passionate about this, and while I drove aesthetic and color palette, we all had a say in what this brand would become."
"That's what I call the 'secret sauce,'" Herning adds.
The process was made slightly more challenging by the Covid-19 crisis. Williams-Eke and the team had to think on their feet to get things done in time for the planned June launch. They were able to pull material out of China before the country shut down in the winter and move it back when they reopened (and the U.S. began going into lockdown). Williams-Eke became the fit model on occasion; they sent samples to co-workers and models for feedback. No one was waiting for things to return to normal, so to speak. "We didn't slow down, because we knew a slow down would maybe mean stop, and that wasn't an option," she explains.
There are two more drops coming soon, all meant to fit in with each other. Herning promises that drop two is "the perfect post-Covid wardrobe," which he chalks up to fortunate timing. And with the pandemic still bearing down hard on retail, he plans on staying flexible moving forward.
"How it fits into the strategy is this is the strategy," Herning says. "This is going to be the true North: We're going to do the next right thing with the information we have when we get it."
See the complete 11 Honoré collection in the gallery below, and shop it now at 11honore.com:
View the 26 images of this gallery on the original article