An Australian retailer specialising in ‘fuller figured fashion’ is the latest business to head to Exeter.
Taking Shape, which has 130 stores in Australia and New Zealand, is cashing in on Britain’s increasing demand for larger clothes opening 30 High Street shops in the UK this autumn.
Although it is not clear at this time where the store will be, stylist jobs have already been advertised for the Exeter branch.
On a job site the company said: “Taking Shape is one of the fastest growing retailers in Australia and New Zealand and now we are seeking exceptional people with a passion for fashion and customer service to join us in our brand new UK Boutiques.
“We thrive in a culture of innovation. We embrace who we are, where we have come from and where we are heading with a sense of fun and a touch of glamour.
“We are on the lookout for talented and vibrant people to join our team – people who recognise the importance of making a difference and who want to be part of something special. At Taking Shape we are serious about Investing in, Developing and Supporting our People!”
Retail sales in the women’s plus-size clothing market increased by 21.4 per cent between 2008 and 2012, driven by ‘rising demand for garments catering to the fuller-figured lady’, according to Key Note’s Women Plus-Size Fashion 2013 report.
Alla Buinowicz, managing director of Taking Shape, which has been running in Australia for 28 years, says: ‘Whilst technically, our market place is anyone size 14 and above, in reality our Taking Shape clothing sizes are the new average with the majority of women in the UK now plus-size.’
She adds: ‘Taking Shape is a multimillion dollar company and we have been specialising in plus-size for a long time. Our clothes are designed to flatter the good bits and hide the bits you don’t want to show with clever patterns and fabrics. The UK has a similar culture and work ethic to Australia but in the UK there is not much choice and retailers are not connecting with the customers.
‘We train our girls to celebrate curves and help customers find the bits they want to flaunt. We have larger changing rooms and comfortable couches outside for friends. We are focusing on market towns rather than shopping centres where there is a natural footfall. We want to engage with local communities, so we have events like girls’ nights out with drinks and nibbles and a fashion parade.
‘The UK has been calling out for someone to offer our service and now here we are. To have a network across the UK we decided we would have to do it quickly. We will be opening 16 more stores by the end of November.’
The Taking Shape shops, featuring size 16 mannequins, are being launched as equalities minister Jo Swinson is calling for High Street retailers to axe skinny shop dummies and use size 16, the average close size for women. Swinson blames a ‘waif’ culture in the fashion industry for low self-esteem and eating disorders.
Taking Shape has launched in Newbury, Solihull, Worcester, Taunton, Southport, Worcester, Leicester and Royal Leamington Spa in the last few weeks. The stores are holding in-store makeovers and styling sessions to mark the official launch of Taking Shape to the UK.
Shops will open in Liverpool, Newcastle, Peterborough, Exeter, Bristol, Nottingham and Cardiff, with other locations such as in Glasgow and Hereford expected to be announced soon.