Despite the many positive steps that plus-size fashion has taken in recent years, luxury, size-inclusive brands are not as common as you might think. In fact, historically, they haven’t really existed at all. Luxury fashion? Of course. Size-inclusive fashion? Sure. But hitting both is rare.
Places like 11 Honoré have helped — both customers and designers alike — but high-end labels that offer every piece in every size they make and ensure that everything looks the same in their smallest size as they do in their biggest? They just haven’t been part of the market. Coyan is hoping to change that.
Lucas Zunz was working at Sachin & Babi, launching its e-commerce platform, when he first had the idea for the brand. “That’s when I started getting in touch with actual customers, and we were getting so many requests for bigger sizes,” he says. Taking the feedback into consideration — he remembers fielding queries for thousand-dollar gowns in sizes the brand didn’t yet offer — Sachin & Babi went on to launch plus. (The brand currently goes up to a size 20.)
Zunz’s role meant he was constantly hearing from shoppers who wanted luxury in sizes that actually worked for them. “I could see it in front of me every day,” he says of the gap in the market when it came to high-end, plus-size options. “That’s when I got really interested in looking at the market.”
The luxury fashion he saw that did come in some extended sizes, “it was kind of like an afterthought…some of them had maybe a small extended sizes category on their website…it just felt like they had to do it, but they didn’t really want to,” Zunz explains, saying that even though he had helped implement changes at his previous employer, he ultimately wanted to start a brand from scratch. And inclusive sizing would be a priority.
Zunz wanted to make clothing that had a different feeling than what he saw available in the plus-size space already, noting that he had trouble finding pieces that existed that fit his vision. “I just couldn’t find anything that was minimal…. focusing on the best materials, best fabrics and really not compromising on design [and] sizing,” he says.
Zunz self-funded and built Coyan (the brand’s name is an old French word for “modesty,” by the way) over the course of three years before finally launching in September 2019. In order to focus on quality, sizing and fabric, he chose to debut with just three silhouettes — all silk dresses, all available in sizes 0 to 24 and all priced between $895 and $1150. (The brand does also have a scarf it sells for $195.)
It’s only fair to mention that there are many brands with size ranges that extend beyond 24. Coyan is one of a few luxury ones to make pieces above a size 20, however, and to offer those same pieces in standard sizes as well.
Though the plus-size customer was in mind during its creation, Coyan is not a plus-size brand. In fact, Zunz’s larger goal for it is to eliminate the labels of “straight” and “plus size” altogether and instead create a shopping experience that made every shopper feel equal.
“Right now, the fashion industry is still very much divided between [standard] size clothing and plus-size clothing,” he says. “I just wanted to create something where we don’t even mention those words and where we just simply show that we have a lot of range of sizes without putting women in a box.”
The overall response to Coyan has been positive, Zunz says. But he does admit that selling pieces at a luxury price point to a customer who hasn’t ever had similarly-priced options before has been difficult. He hopes the brand will continue to encourage shoppers to feel “worthy, comfortable and empowered to invest in designer pieces.” One way it’s able to do that is by partnering with other size-inclusive companies, like 11 Honoré (as an exclusive partner for future distribution) and Universal Standard (to host a series of pop-ups).
In terms of the future, Zunz says that Coyan will be expanding into pieces that are more wearable for everyday (as opposed to its current evening or occasion pieces) while still focusing on the very best materials. Ultimately, though, the priority is promoting seamless, natural inclusivity — to “eradicate” the different categories of clothing and, in Zunz’s words, “[make] sure that everything on the website is relatable and that [the customer’s] experience is constant.”