THE BELLE CURVE
When one question I hear a lot is, “where can I find preloved plus sized clothing?” it would indicate that this area of the resale market is sorely lacking. If good quality clothing in larger sizes, that is at once fashionable, classic and lovely, is so difficult to find, owners would understandably be reticent to let them go. It’s a fair assumption that the turnover of clothing in plus sized ranges just doesn't occur as quickly. Great for the planet, yes! But as a woman with curves in Perth looking to shop preloved, what’s a girl to do?
Well, a weight loss journey for two sisters from Perth’s northern suburbs has inspired a business supplying preloved fashion to Perth’s curvy community. Sandra and Fiona McArthur of Sisterly Curves began their business 3 years ago, on-selling their quality secondhand clothing as their weight loss journey began. Selling their friends unworn garments followed and a lifelong thrifting habit rounded out the ever growing inventory that can be found online at sisterlycurves.com
“Sisterly Curves started out selling clothes my sister and I no longer wore for various reasons. They sold well and quickly. We knew then that we wanted to do this for real as we know how hard it is to walk into a store to try on clothes that we don’t really love. We’ve both been in customer service in our 9-5 jobs and wanted to make online shopping an easy and fun experience. So here we are!!
Sisterly Curves also wants to do our part with helping the environment by not contributing to land waste and educate on fast and ethical fashion as well as promoting positive body image. We love fashion and shopping - we want you to love it just as much as us.”
Fiona ’s strengths lie with the social media management on IG and FB and Sandra, who is not a fan of technology, does most of the photography. Fiona also turns a dab hand to the sewing machine, up cycling quality denim into the most delightful tote and handbags.
Circular Style: How long has Sisterly Curves been going and could you share a bit of the journey?
SC: We’ve been doing it for 3 years. We've both been on weight loss journeys and had so many clothes. Obviously we didn't want to just throw them out because they were still wearable so we thought we would put them on Ebay. They always sold very quickly and then someone said to us, “why don't you do that as a business?” Initially, they said why not go to Bali and get clothes made up but we said no, we find great things at markets, our friends give us clothes, we have our own clothes… and that’s how it started.
CS: So it started with your own wardrobes and then progressed to thrifting? So you thrift-and-flip?
SC: Yes that’s what it’s mainly about. It’s reselling things that we find. We go to markets, we go to op shops all the time and friends who are also on weight loss journeys and can’t wear their clothes anymore send them off to us. If they're going to throw them out, we say, oh we will take them.
CS: What made you decide on the niche of plus-sized wear?
SC: Well firstly, we were/are plus-sized. That’s how we knew that no one had been looking at plus sized. That’s where we felt more comfortable. Not everyone who is plus sized wants to wear large floral patterns so when we thrift, we ask, “would I wear this?” and if we think we would then it fits the bill.
CS: You’re both quite far along in your weight loss. Do you see this business model continuing?
SC: Yes. We've tried to sell smaller sizes but they haven’t done as well as the larger sizes so that’s where we will stay. We grown quite a lot of ongoing return buyers so we are obviously doing something right.
CS: How many buyers do you have and why do you think that is growing?
SC: It’s certainly grown from when we were just on Ebay to now having our website as well. Our ever growing list of subscribers surprised the hell out of us! We only launched in July so getting the momentum of subscribers was a big deal. Fast fashion focuses on regular sizes and they don’t go for quick turn over with the up-to-date styles so much for plus sized people. It usually means that we have classic pieces that aren’t going to be in fashion for 5 minutes. You can keep wearing them season after season.
CS: Do you have particular brands that you do and don’t take?
SC: Mainly City Chic, Autograph, Crossroads, Rockmans, Millers: those are the main brands. And Dream Diva (which was an online store in Melbourne) before they went under. We don't sell Kmart or Target.
CS: Where would you like to see Sisterly Curves in the future?
SC: Eventually we’d like it to become our full time jobs: give up our 9-5s and do what we love doing which is promoting sustainable clothing. We are also looking at ethical client fashion for the plus sized which isn't something we've had much luck with so far. We just see loads of Kmart!
CS: There’s an ethical element to your business. How important is that to you?
SC: Very Important. We’ve done more research getting into this and seeing what is happening overseas and we want to take a better approach. People are looking to us as we are doing the hard work for them and putting a bit of effort in to making sure that we don’t go to fast fashion stores.
CS: So what do you do with unsold inventory?
SC: Anything that doesn't sell, we donate back to charity stores. If we have jeans for example that Fiona has already made into a style of bag, and we don't wish to do more then we take them back to the op shop in the hopes that someone there will benefit.
CS: Are you online only?
SC: Yes we are online but we do offer local pick up too. We had a lady last week who asked to pick up so she could save on postage and we were more than happy for that. Try-ons are another service we offer to locals. We also have a returns policy if something isn't in good condition but Sandra really does have the eagle eye at inspecting garments to ensure that everything meets our standards. Another thing we find is garments may be seconds or not true to size so we always make sure we offer true measurements for each garment to ensure correct fit. If they don’t measure up then back to the op shop they go. Sizing on these clothes can be SO off, especially clothes manufactured overseas so we always try to represent clothing accurately to marry up in comparable Australian sizing.
CS: If you had all of Perth listening what would you want them to know about Sisterly Curves?
SC: We offer good quality clothing for curvy women and we understand what it means to be plus sized because we are/ were. We’ve been in these shoes. We understand how difficult it is to go into a shop and try on clothes and deal with unfriendly sales assistants. We will help you out as best we can with specific sourcing of brands if required or steer you towards your nearest op shop if we can’t help.
Sisterly Curves: Your online source of preloved quality plus-sized clothes, carefully sourced and curated by owners who know what to look for. Who could want anything more?