EvansLondon gives NY Fashion Week big picture

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NEW YORK, Sep 12 (Reuters) With hundreds of twiggy models strutting the catwalks at New York's Fashion Week that ended on Wednesday, EvansLondon hopes to clothe the women fashion tends to overlook -- those who wear larger sizes.

Roughly two-thirds of US women wear size 14 or larger, and they are a fast-growing segment of the apparel industry, said Sue Perryman, creative director of e-commerce for Britain's EvansLondon.

The company, which is launching its online shopping site for US consumers, came to New York for Fashion Week to show its collection to the media and others.

So goodbye, baggy black dresses and stretch pants. Hello, hot styles like an orange flared coat with elbow-length sleeves and a purple polka-dot party dress with a flirty bow.

''We're selling confidence,'' said Perryman. ''We cut the latest styles to fit and flatter the larger woman.'' Last year, one in five women's apparel purchases was a plus size, according to the NPD Group, a Port Washington, New York-based company that tracks retail sales trends.

''Accentuate your curves. Don't hide them,'' said Michele Weston, a principal in MJW Style Media, a New York-based brand consultant to EvansLondon.

The lingerie and swimsuits included bras in black and hot pink, black lace panties with a ''tap pant'' flair, purple ''girl boxers'' and a high-leg bikini in an orange knit with a crochet overlay in chocolate brown. No granny panties here.

British designer Georgina Goodman created shoes and boots in wide widths up to size 12-1/2 for EvansLondon.

The company also offers necklaces, bracelets and handbags scaled generously for larger bodies. Its corporate parent is the Arcadia Group Ltd, the largest UK clothing retailer, which owns such stores as Topshop and Miss Selfridge.

In the United States, EvansLondon aims to offer cutting-edge styles at more competitive prices than those of some established retailers in the segment, including Lane Bryant and Marina Rinaldi.

EvansLondon clothes also are available in petites and talls -- two specialty proportions difficult to find in plus sizes at most US stores.

RECOGNITION AND ACCEPTANCE This strikes a welcome chord with Kathryn Mullen, a full-figure model and executive producer of Goddess TV, a Dallas-based company developing a cable TV beauty and lifestyle show for women in this size range.

She believes US retailers need to change the way they market to full-figure women, especially those ages 40 to 61. Ninety per cent of the women in this group are full-figured, and they have plenty of money to spend, she said.

''The truth is, full-figure women are looking for recognition and acceptance. They want to see themselves attractively portrayed in media and advertising,'' she said.

Perryman of EvansLondon said it may not be surprising that it took a British retailer to forge ahead for larger women.

''In the UK, retailers understand that there's more respect for the grown-up woman, for who you are, not how you look,'' she said. Perhaps it trickles down from respect for Queen Elizabeth and actresses such as Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, she said.

And what if women who wear size 2 see something from EvansLondon that they want? ''They'll have to eat more profiteroles,'' Weston said.

Reuters RAR RS2223

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