Love at first sight is usually something reserved for romantic comedies, and is almost exclusively used to describe a meeting of two people. In my life, love at first sight is a phenomenon I’ve experienced a few dozen times. I consider myself lucky. Only I’m not referring to love at first sight in the traditional “meet cute” sense. I’m talking about falling in love with fashion, one dress, one designer or one catwalk at a time. Last month, I had a moment in East London where I was overcome with love for designer, dress and catwalk all at once. This was the day I met the design duo Palmer//Harding. I should have known I’d be in love immediately. Together they mirror my own split personality, one coming from the southern states of America and the other a born and bred Londoner.
We were meeting to discuss an issue close to my heart at the moment – sizing. Palmer//Harding are debuting their Spring 2019 collection with extended sizes. They are slowly starting to expand their size offering up and will continue to do so over future seasons. Today, Palmer//Harding offer up to an 18UK (that fits an American /1416) and in 2020 will begin offering up to 20UK (fitting an American 16/18).
Talking to Levi and Matthew, who met studying at Central Saint Martins in London, was like speaking with old friends. Of course I was ever so slightly intimidated at first. This duo have been written up by numerous publications as the “shirt Gods.” They have taken a wardrobe staple and reconstructed it completely, as you’ll see from the garments I’m wearing in the pictures herewith. This is the first label that I ever thought of as having “structured movement.” Every single piece looks almost “hard” yet moves with a softness and delicate nature that is supremely feminine. Maybe that comes from the two men specialising in different fields, Levi having studied in men’s fashion and Matthew in women’s. Whatever the reason, the end result is something quite fantastic.
I did ask Levi about the controversy in sizing and why designers aren’t offering more of a size range for all women and he was honest with his answer, and yes, it does have a lot to do with financing. Expanding sizes is a financial drain for any small brand. But, that makes sense, as you are making more garments, so of course it’s going to cost more. However, that old myth of “plus sizes needing more fabric for each garment,” and thereby costing more, is absolutely ridiculous. And, yes, I did ask that directly. I wanted to know why women of a certain size were being asked to pay more for their garments. Have you ever noticed that? Sometimes plus sizes can be as much as 30% more for the same garment in straight size? If a designer ever tries to tell you that the reason for this involves needing more material to make said garment, it’s absolute, complete bullshit. Smart designers, like Palmer//Harding, aren’t putting the cost on extended sizes.
This is a brand that loves the female form and they want to extend their offering to include as many fashionable women as possible, damn the costs. Talking to the duo, it was easy to see that they were quite passionate and excited about this movement forward. It seems to be something they’ve been driven towards since the beginning and there is a pride in their voice in announcing this shift in the business. And I, well, I left the studio with a lump in my throat. I was proud for them. I was excited to be asked to share the news, but I was more excited for what this means for the future of fashion.
I firmly believe that in owning a piece of Palmer//Harding, you are owning a piece of fashion history. This is a brand that will undoubtedly stand the test of time. And now, with the offering of more sizes to more women, the sky is truly the limit. And with that, I’ll leave you with one last thought. Designers like these, that are taking a risk on extended sizes, require our attention and our backing. We are the people that will tell the industry that this investment is worth it. It’s our spending that will make a difference with sizing.
Shop The Palmer//Harding looks
(all items loaned to shoot):