Five years ago, when Lucas Zunz was running e-commerce for eveningwear label Sachin and Babi, he began to notice an interesting phenomenon. “We started getting a lot of requests for thousand dollar gowns in size 14, 16, and up,” shared Zunz during a visit to the Vogue offices. “At first, it was surprising for us because back then, we didn’t think that would be an opportunity in the luxury space, but it was also exciting, and we started to develop it.” By listening to the desires of their clients and responding accordingly, the team was able to tap into a lucrative new customer base, one that has historically been underserved. The lessons Zunz learned during his time at the brand help to inform his latest venture, Coyan, a luxurious range of minimalist gowns offered in sizes 0 to 24. Notable for their simplicity and ease of wear, they represent another instance of Zunz filling an important gap within the market. “I just couldn’t find anything that matched my aesthetic,” he says of the limited offerings within the category. “Everything felt dated, or overly sexy, or just cheap.”

The sentiment echoes one long-held by women in search of a size-inclusive fashion. Though the options have improved over time, mainstream fashion has yet to truly tap into the $20 billion market for larger sizes. Part of that resistance has to do with stereotypes and prejudice, but it’s a financial issue too—many brands refuse to take on the costs associated with designing for all sizes. For Zunz, that mentality is counterintuitive. “I realized that if I wanted to create something new, I would have to start from scratch,” he says of the time spent finding the right factories, pattern makers, and a design team to execute his vision. “If you want to be fully inclusive, it costs twice as much as developing a regular collection. We made patterns on size four and size 20, then graded both ways doing fittings for all stages in between. It was a long process just for the first three silhouettes, but it’s necessary, and I think we nailed it.”

The time Zunz spent perfecting the looks is evident within Coyan’s first two collections. With periodic drops instead of seasonal fare, the label’s aim is to create timeless pieces. All crafted from 100% ethically sourced silk, the dresses are a luxe alternative to the polyester and stretch materials that permeate the plus-size market. Standouts like the Dua—an asymmetrical hem dress with a v-neckline delivered in a juicy shade of tangerine—are refined enough to wear to a party but easily dressed down with the addition of sneakers. “Seasons imply that the clothes are going to be obsolete at some point, and I don’t want to be trend specific,” he says. “We’re focusing on modern, minimal, and the best possible materials. Something that will be elegant and comfortable at any occasion.”

Chrissy Metz in custom CoyanPhoto: Getty Images

The all-occasion ethos was put to the test at January’s Director’s Guild Awards, where This Is Us star Chrissy Metz donned custom Coyan. The rich navy hue and textured fabrication inspired Zunz to tread into more dramatic territory for the brand’s second collection. “When we’re developing a look for a celebrity, they have the same needs as our customers. That lamé fabric that we used on her gown was from France, it’s so beautiful, and we incorporated it into the new designs,” says Zunz. “It’s that same balance between special occasion and daywear, keeping things minimalist while introducing things that are a little bit more special.”

That elevated daywear concept is something Zunz hopes to push even further in the coming year. “It would be amazing to have beautiful cashmere dresses for the winter, so we’re working on that,” he says. “What I’m excited about is recycled cashmere, getting into more sustainable fabrics, and making things that are slightly more affordable too.” Another cause for excitement is the stream of positive feedback they’ve been receiving from customers. “It’s a privilege to be able to connect with people so directly,” says Zunz. “We’ve already gotten some amazing insights about what they would like to see and where they want us to go next.”

Source Article