Designer Interview Series: Monif Clarke of Monif C Plus Sizes

Saturday, February 27, 2010

This is part 3 to the designer interview series. Because there a whole new crop of independent designers that are catering the young, hip, fat, fashionable women like me and you I thought it would be a good idea to give you guys a little insight into the person behind the clothes as well as some information on some new spring lines.

31 year old CEO and designer of Monif C Plus Sizes, Monif Clarke has kicked down many plus size barriers and bust on to the mainstream with her amazingly versatile convertible dresses and various other bold, fashionable plus size items. Monif C Plus sizes has been featured on Runway shows like B.E.T's Rip the Runway and at last years first Full Figure Fashion Week. Monif C designs are not down played or boring; her designs help capture the adventurous plus size women that loves well designer, colorful clothes. I have had the Pleasure of owning a Monif C Plus Sizes dress and I love it. I can't wait to see what Monif C has planned for the Spring/Summer season but right now you can check out her new swim wear collection. Many Styles are already sold out so, be sure to check out what's left.

Click read more to check out my interview with Monif C

Tiffany - What was the “light bulb” that went off or the situation that made you want to want to start the Monif C line?
Monif - About 6 years ago, after spending a few years working in Corporate America as well as running a children’s nonprofit for a few years, I decided that I wasn’t following my passion.  I have always been a plus size woman, as well as a chubby often insecure child, but always had a sense of fashion.  My mother and grandmother were both plus size women and found ways to have clothing made to keep themselves fashionably dressed, so that is something they passed on to me.  When I realize I needed to follow my dream of designing and bringing an innovative plus size line to the market, I decided to go for it.

Tiffany - I first encountered you clothing on B.E.T’s Rip the Runway. How did that collaboration come about? How was that experience?
Monif - BET actually contacted me because they had read about my line in Women’s Wear Daily as well as in Glamour Magazine.  The experience was amazing, and continues to be fruitful for our business, bringing new women who knew nothing about Monif C. into our world.  It’s an honor that they keep calling us back, and I think it’s a testament to the fact that people really enjoy seeing bold, sexy, plus size women that are comfortable in their own skin strutting down the runway.

Tiffany - Many people say that your clothing is too expensive. Is there aspecific reason for that?
Monif - There are a couple of reasons, most importantly cost to manufacture. It’s very expensive to manufacture a line as a designer in NYC.  Most mass market lines in department stores are manufactured in China and you’d be amazed how cheap it is to manufacture those lines.  In addition, when I set out to start Monif C., there were already many mass market labels out there that brought us quick throwaway fashion.  Even though throwaway fashion has a place in every woman’s wardrobe, I thought to myself, my plus size woman deserves that stand out dress that she will wear forever, that will bring her compliments for days and days, and will be the envy of even her “skinny” friends.  It wasn’t about doing the same old same old, but doing something unique that will excite the customer.

Tiffany - I recently wore your "Tina" Sequin dress in the rainbow color to a New Years Eve party. In my experience its a hate it or love it dress. The people who liked it really really liked it and the people who didn't thought it was horrible. What inspires you to create such bold clothing for plus sizes?

Monif - Fashion is about creating a look that expresses your personality.  My clothes are directly related to my fashion personality which is all about color, fit, and showcasing curves.  So when I create these clothes, it is really about me creating what I like to wear and hoping the customer loves it too.

Tiffany -  Some designers are already releasing look books for there spring lines. What is currently inspiring your spring line?
Monif - Spring is actually my favorite season!  It’s a time for me to do what I love to do best which is COLOR.  You will definitely see color this season, white is going to be big for me this season also. 

Tiffany - With out giving to much a away what can we expect from the Monif C
spring line?
Monif - Well this season we’ve already launched our plus size swimwear line which is already doing very well.  Our swimwear line connects with our philosophy of fashion forward, stylish pieces, and it’s for that sexy, trendy bold plus size woman who wants that reflected in her swimsuits. You can check out the plus size swimsuits here: We will also bring back some of the jumpsuits that sold out last season, our signature “Marilyn” Convertible Dress, and we’ve got some other surprises!

Tiffany - Will you do a fashion show at New York fashion week this year? If so are there challenges in putting together a plus size fashion show for fashion week or just in general?
Monif - We won’t be participating in New York fashion week this year.  The shows are very expensive to put on (think $100,000), and most designers do those shows with big sponsorship money behind them.  Last year I was a part of Full Figured Fashion Week which was amazing, and we will look to participate in that again this year.

Tiffany - I recently did a post on my blog about being too plus for plus size fashion. With models working the plus size industry as small as 12 how do you go about choosing models for your line?
Monif - Monif C. only works with models that are at least a size 16.  My preferred size to work with is 18 or 20.  I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to market/sell clothing to women that are plus size and then use models that are size 6, 8, 10 which I have seen also.  The Monif C. brand is about representing the plus size woman authentically, and it would just not connect to what we believe in to use smaller models.

Tiffany - Who is the target audience for your line? All plus sizes or specific kind of plus size woman?
Monif - We embrace all plus size women in our brand.  All plus size women, whether you are a mother, a single woman, a teacher, a doctor, a librarian, will all at some time need a Monif C. dress or swimsuit.  You may wear Monif C. everyday or you may find yourself dressing more casually in your every day life, but at some point whether it’s going on vacation, going to a wedding, or just going out to lunch with your friends, you will need to look fabulous in a Monif C. piece! 

Tiffany - What are your long term goals regarding the Monif C line?
Monif - Expansion, adding new products/items to our line, travelling more to meet customers, more Curvy Girls at Sea trips, etc., etc.! 


Cid Style File said...

Great interview Tiffany, this one is my fave so far. Although I can't afford a Monif C dress right now, I definitely going to put her convertible dress on my wish list. I would love to rock it for my 35th bday this year!

Mellz said...

Really great interview, it makes me want to check out Monif C even more. Their swimsuits are to DIE for so hopefully they'll have a sale my pockets can handle. Great job Tiffany!

NikStar said...

Love the interview! awesome stuff!!!

Jen said...

Great interview Tiffany! You got some skills! hehe :)