The plus-size clothing market in the Twin Cities is seeing an upswing due to body positive advocates like Cat Polivoda.
For women who wear sizes 14 and up, the clothing selection at most retail stores isn't that extensive – especially fashionable attire.
Three years ago, Polivoda took it upon herself to do the digging and locating of on-trend, plus-size clothing. Starting from her own closet and sifting through secondhand clothing stores, Polivoda collected pieces to resell online and at pop-up shops.
From virtuality to reality
Now, Polivoda is ironing out the final details for a brick-and-mortar shop. After overachieving her crowdfunding goal on Indiegogo and landing "InDemand status," it became clear that the local plus-size fashion community is more than ready for a permanent, one-stop shop for affordable threads in sizes that fit them.
Polivoda's summer campaign raised the base funds to make the switch from a virtual space called Cat's Closet to a physical store that will be called Cake Plus-Size Resale. Polivoda said she decided on the name Cake, because "it speaks to anti-diet-culture in the best kind of 'life is short, eat the cake' type of way!"
Polivoda added that the physical store will lead to a larger online shop. The clothing selection will expand to include masculine and androgynous styles. Plus customers can expect frequent-shoppping rewards, plus-size accessories, body-positive merchandise, and events. A clothing rental subscription program is coming in the spring. This spring, Polivoda also plans to hire a staff.
New buy-sell model
One major detail that will remain the same is the resale concept. "The nature of my shop allows clothing prices to be really accessible for many people," Polivoda said. However, to make use of her new space and offer a wider variety of clothing, she'll be "moving to an outright buying model where customers can bring their gently used, plus-size clothing in to sell to the shop for cash or store credit. "I adore giving people shopping experiences full of options and possibilities, instead of the scarcity that comes with only being able to choose from one plus-size rack in the back," Polivoda added.
Bringing body positivity to FWMN
Before Cake opens its doors on October 6, Polivoda will set up her portable racks once again tonight (September 12) at the Plus Size Pop-Up Shop and Panel Discussion. Polivoda will co-host the event alongside Michelle Raven of Arc's Value Village.
The two women had been thinking of organizing a plus-size fashion event for a while, so Raven suggested hosting it during Fashion Week MN. "I haven’t really been as active with Fashion Week MN previously, because I haven’t seen a lot of plus-size representation, Polivoda said. "It’s been a great experience so far, and I’m happy we can add an important voice to the programming taking place this week."
Polivoda said she plugs her core values of body positivity, fat liberation, intersectional feminism, and social justice into her shop. Although she loves fashion and styling, she added that there is more to her daily work in the plus-size fashion world. "What’s really important to me is helping people feel comfortable and confident in their bodies," Polivoda explained. "Clothing can sometimes play a large part in that."
Plus-size panel event
At tonight's event, panelists will engage in a guided discussion on being a fashion-conscious, plus-size clothing customer. They plan to address underrepresentation in the market and celebrating body positivity. The thought leaders and tastemakers that will guide the conversation include Project Runway Season 16 contestant Samantha Rei, Jessica Barrett of Machine Shop, Char Dobbs of Char Style & Image, Ryan Kroening of Events by Lady K, and Molly May of Six Peaks.
This mid-FWMN gathering will take place at Surly Brewing and is free to with an RSVP.