When you talk about the foundations of plus size fashion, you can’t really not talk about Anna Scholz. This year, celebrating twenty years of making fabulous fashion for plus size women we find out what makes her tick.
SLiNK: You’ve clearly got a passion for healthy living. What inspired you to get fit and start training and what would you say to others thinking about making changes?
Anna: I got quite ill with gallstones and pancreatitis when I hit 40 and realised that I needed to look after myself more and get fitter to be able to enjoy
my busy lifestyle and lots of travelling.
For me it isn’t about getting slim, but being strong and healthy and the best version of myself for myself.
I can only tell you from my experience that exercise makes a very positive difference in my life and gives me so much more energy.
SLiNK: How do you motivate yourself to hit the gym when all you want to do is stay in bed!
Anna: I am naturally a lazy person, and it is hard to get up and go to the gym at times, but you get rewarded with such a buzz afterwards.
I admit that having a great personal trainer (http://www. mikemartinpt.com/personal- training/4590746087)is incredibly motivating.
He makes me show up, and pushes me further than I ever would. After 4 1⁄2 years of train- ing it has become part of my routine and I actually miss it when I don’t.
I have become a much more active person.
SLiNK: What’s your favourite routine?
Anna: We do a mix of cardio, weights and High Intensity Interval Training, but my very favourite are our boxing sessions.
It is super exhausting and my hands are shaking for hours afterwards but you can really let go.
SLiNK: Do you have a special playlist that you go to to keep you in check in the gym?
Anna: Yes I do & I keep updating it all the time so I don’t get bored. But when I train alone I have to blast some tunes to push me along.
At the moment I love, ‘How deep is your love’ by Calvin Harris and ‘The girl is mine’ by 99 Souls or classics like ‘Rap- ture’ by Nadia Ali and ‘We found Love’ by Rihanna.
SLiNK: What made you want to launch a fitness line? How did you decide what the key pieces in it would be?
Anna: I work out 3-4 times a week, so need quite a few outfits a week. It has al- ways annoyed me that all the cool printed stuff I see around doesn’t come in my size. All the plus size fitness wear is rather basic and had some missing elements and I still want to look cool in the gym.
I did a little survey online and asked what plus size women were missing in the gym. The response was great, and apart from fun pieces to wear everyone seemed to look for a workout top with sleeves which covered their bum as well.
So we designed a top with that in mind with an elliptical hem, the printed leggings I was lust- ing after myself (with an extra high supportive waistband and handy pocket), a tank top with only an illusional panel racer back (so you don’t show your bra) and extra tummy ruching. To complete the look a jacket with zip pockets (so you don’t lose anything while jumping around).
SLiNK: What’s your favourite piece?
Anna: I love the vest and leg- ging combination in snake print.
SLiNK: Was it a challenge to learn about making fitness clothing compared to making your usual fashion designs. Is the process different?
Anna: The clothing needs to be more functional, must be harder wearing and fit really well, so you don’t loose your pants when you squat. I tested all the samples myself and am pretty pleased. I would like to extend the range once we get a reaction to what people love most.
SLiNK: What is in your gym bag?
Anna: To be honest I never take a bag as I drive to the gym and just take a towel, my heart rate monitor and bottle of water.
SLiNK: Who are your go-to trainer brand?
Anna: I love Nike trainers as their fit is a bit more generous and they are really supportive. I have a slight trainer addiction and own far too many pairs! But it is very important to invest in good supportive trainers for your workout, especially when you are heavier.
SLiNK: You’ve just switched Anna Scholz from being wholesale and web to EXCLUSIVELY available on your website. Why did you decide to change?
Anna: Fashion is moving faster and customers demand newness all the time. With changing our business model we
are able to produce 10 mini collections a year rather than 2 big seasonal collections which keeps the website fresh and exciting and we have more control in presenting the collection in the best possible way. Also by cutting out the middleman we were able to lower our price points by approximately 30% and offer our custom- ers better value for the same quality of garments.
SLiNK: You’re having to design more collections now. How do you keep being inspired?
Anna: It was difficult at first to get my head around a new way of working, but I love designing prints and clothes and I enjoy design- ing a more diverse range and creating different stories and photoshoots for each line.
I am never short of inspiration; you just have to keep your eyes open.
The design process is only about 20% of what I do. It is much harder to get your ideas produced in a short time frame into a superbly finished, well fitting high quality garment.
SLiNK: Fashion is going through some major changes with designers becoming more season-less, is this something you’re looking to do with your mini collections throughout the year?
Anna: Exactly! I can now launch product closer to the actual seasons and don’t have to launch my high summer dresses in freezing February or Winter coats in July when it finally gets warm. It all makes a lot more sense to me.
We also don’t have to compete with the never ending sale offers from our com- petitors anymore as our designs are now exclusive to our own website.
I would like to tempt people to invest in quality items which last.
SLiNK: You have been in the industry for a long time, what are the major changes you have seen during the time – do you think plus size is viewed more positively now than it used to be?
Anna: We are actually celebrating 20 YEARS of ANNASCHOLZ this year! Really I have been doing this for a very long time and we have come a very long way. The move from Retailing to E-tailing (E-commerce) is the biggest change over the last 10 years.
We used to have a strong department store business selling in Harrods, Selfridges, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue. Now most stores have closed their plus departments and some have gone into sell- ing online only.
Through social media and the voices of plus size bloggers and models and media- influencers like yourself PLUS has defi- nitely been put on the map and is viewed much more positively and become much more fashionable than ever before.
SLiNK: Your new tagline is EXCLUSIVELY PLUS – What does this mean and how did this come about?
Anna: We used to start our collection at a UK size 10, and as much as I like to be all inclusive and sell to everyBODY, it just wasn’t economical or possible to cut production over as many sizes and styles. So a few years ago we had to change to start selling from a size 16-28 only. For me plus size is simply a descriptive term of a size range and I find all the campaigns to ‘Drop the Plus’ unnecessary, especially when you see the same people under the ‘PlusisEqual’ Hashtag a few months later. So we decided to be proud of being plus and launched #exclusivelyplussize #exclusivelyatannascholz
SLiNK: What else can we expect from Anna Scholz this year?
Anna: Haha, how much more do you want? The great news is that our Anna Scholz for Sheego collection is launching for the first time in the UK at Curvissa in the middle of March!
We just launched our fitness range and are launching 2 more Spring collections
in April and May and then 5 Autumn collections. I am just planning to shoot my first Autumn July story on the streets of New York.
We also re-introduced knitwear this spring and it was really successful, as I think it is very hard to find non-synthetic plus size knitwear in the market.
So I am extending our knitwear section for Autumn. Watch this space!
Oh yes, and then there are these gorgeous scented annascholz candles in the making.
Keep up to date with Anna by following her on social media or pop by the site. #exclusivelyplussize @annascholz http://www.annascholz.com