Rana Good is the founder of Naïra NYC. A writer for publications such as Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Coveteur, Mens Journal and others, she created her own platform celebrating women of color.
Until fairly recently curvy women were highly underserved by the fashion world. Mainstream brands often wouldn’t account for fuller hips or extra, ahem, junk in the trunk, making it hard for curvaceous women to find jeans, dresses, jumpsuits and more. That’s why Poetic Justice Clothing is a godsend for many, as the brand accommodates and accentuates women’s curves perfectly. Especially popular with women of color, the Los Angeles-based brand creates a style sanctuary around “round booties, thick thighs, wide hips and bold curves.” We spoke to Ashley Ludgood, head of online marketing, about some of the best pieces the brand has in store for fall/winter, why curvy doesn’t mean plus size and how their brand dresses women for all moments in life, from the boardroom to the bar.
Who is the Poetic Justice woman?
Ashley Ludgood: The Poetic Justice woman is curvy and culture-oriented. She likes fashion that makes a forward statement that feels authentic to her roots, but she also has an elevated sense of style. She’s creating her own brand so she needs pieces that help build the foundation for her to express her own unique look. She may be at the club on Saturday, but she also needs something to wear to work on Monday. She’s a whole, complete woman. She’s both down-to-earth and downright fabulous.
You design for curvy women, what did you feel was missing in the market for them?
When Poetic Justice first entered the space, there really wasn’t anything for curvy women. You’d have a few mainstream brands that would have a “curvy fit” but the fit was subtle, and our customers definitely still would have that dreaded waistband gap in the back. It wasn’t really made for women with a narrow waist and really full hips, thighs, and booties. We also didn’t really see the representation of our customer’s culture. We found that an overwhelming percentage of our customers were women of color, and these brands were both neglecting their physical build and culture. Point blank, they just weren’t represented, and they certainly weren’t at the center of the conversation.
Is there a misconception that curvy means plus size?
Absolutely. It’s one of our greatest struggles because we’re exclusively available online. So, terminology is very important for they way people find us.”Curvy” as a search term essentially always leans toward plus size. We carry plus sizes, but we are not exclusively plus size. We carry sizes 04-24. For us curvy means a narrow waist that is balanced by wider hips, thicker thighs, and a curvier rear. We actually created two levels of curvy fit. We created our Chanelle Fit for women who swear they can’t wear jeans. They fit even the most extreme curves.
Who are some women you’ve worked with that you think really embody your brand and why?
Historically, we’ve worked with Angela Simmons, Jordin Sparks, Wendy Williams, Katrina Law, Shawn Richards and Amber Riley. Vivica A. Fox had a collection with us a few years ago. Those are celebrities. But we also have brand ambassadors that represent us across the country that are doing huge things in their careers and communities like Chaia Raibbon of OnyxBox and Randi Gloss of Gloss Rags. Y’Marri, Lydia Rene, and Jordyn Carter are up-and-coming musical artists who are also #TeamPJ. Those women definitely embody us too. They’re real, gorgeous, and powerful. They’re not pretentious or inaccessible, and you’ll respect them and even admire them because the use their gifts to the best of their abilities.
Sometimes I feel like some of our competitors seem to reduce the women that represent their brand to body type. Our brand is for community of powerhouse women who share the commonality of body type and culture. That’s different. The Poetic Justice woman isn’t just sexy. She’s strong, smart, and powerful. And she doesn’t just need something to wear to the club… she needs something to wear to run her own business, too.
How has Poetic Justice evolved and grown over the years?
It honestly took us a while to find our voice. We started out kind of being everything to everyone. But because of our parent company, we just knew that we were good at making jeans. And we knew that we understood the curvy customer. But as we’ve developed we’ve expanded beyond just denim. We carry tops, dresses, jumpsuits. We stopped being so focused on a product category, and more focused on the customer. Her voice and her needs, sort of began to drive our voice and our offerings.
What are some fall/winter pieces you expect your customers to be really excited about?
Our Fall collection has been getting some amazing feedback. We’ve sort of returned to our denim roots, and played around in that box to create fresh silhouettes and styles that are sophisticated and unique. We also have some really fun sexy-meets-sporty pieces. Our black lace is already available. And then a really gorgeous dusty mauve athleisure collection drops at the top of next month.
What’s next for Poetic Justice?
As an industry, if you paid close attention to NYFW this September… I think we’re really about to walk into a Harlem Renaissance of fashion. There’s sort of an unapologetic, bold representation of culture entering the space from designers, fashion journalists, and models of color. It’s super exciting. We’re lucky to be on the front lines of this moment and movement. Hopefully, a lot of collaborations will come from that.
On an individual level, we’re actually transitioning in a new designer! We’ve had three other designers over the years, and each one has brought such a unique voice and perspective to table. So, it’s been really fun to watch three different black designers take the reigns of a brand, and create something for the culture. Each one expresses a different aspect of that culture which is both important and beautiful because blackness isn’t a monolith. Our newest designer is from the UK and has a contemporary background, and I think our customers are really going to love her balance of elegance and drama. Our customers usually flock to bold, sophisticated silhouettes. They’re not afraid of a fashion risk. Sometimes they push us to take bigger risks. That’s super fun for us. I’m also excited to see her interpretation, too as her point-of-view brings in a more global approach.