While plus-size offerings continue to multiply, there’s still a sought-after aesthetic that’s been lost in the mix: minimalism. For every woman who loves ’50s-inspired A-line dresses or printed tunics, there’s one who loves high-style basics in a muted palette. That’s where new online boutique Mei Smith comes in: With a roster of indie-designer collabs, it’s charting a new path.
“There are so many amazing options for the plus-size market now, but there isn’t really an option for a woman whose style leans toward androgyny or who’s into the ‘straight size’ contemporary designer offerings,” says founder Ayanna Wu.
And she’s seen the frustration firsthand among family and friends. “Growing up, I was always responsible for helping my sister find clothing,” explains Wu. “She’s plus-size, and we always had difficulty finding something that she wanted to wear.” As time went on, she began to wonder: Where were the Acne Studios, the Jil Sanders, and the A.P.C’s for plus-size women?
So the Fashion Institute of Technology grad decided to fill that void herself. After interning for Fader magazine and Alexander Wang, Wu began contacting designers to gauge their interest in a plus-size collaboration. As a result, Mei Smith launched last April with Kinfolk-friendly clothes designed by Hackwith Design House, Benjamin Jay, Carmakoma, and Shaina Mote. The collection includes shirt dresses ($240), wide-leg trousers ($190), and midi-length vests ($150) in an array of beige and black (sizes range from XL to 3XL and 12 to 24).
This fall, the site is adding collaborative pieces with Australian brand 17sundays to the lineup, as well as original Mei Smith faux-fur stoles. The autumn collection features a covetable wool duster coat ($300), a boxy navy blazer ($200), and the perfect pair of black ripped jeans ($180).
As for the future? “I’d like to sell footwear, swimwear, lingerie, accessories, and home décor,” says Wu. “I just really hope for Mei Smith to be a lifestyle one-stop shop.”