Do you ever just adore someone you have never met? This is how I feel about Yuliya, the creative force behind Igigi.com! I remember the first time I spoke with her. She had just started Igigi and reached out to us to share her company and vision. She was delightful and quite passionate in her goal to shape a name for herself in the plus-size fashion industry. We have stayed in close contact over the years and I have had the pleasure of watching her company grow.
This past summer, I finally had the opportunity to meet Yuliya and the Igigi team in their headquarters and design studio in San Francisco. It was remarkable that Yuliya and I knew each other without having ever been in the same room together! I was welcomed with open arms as we chatted about life, websites, fashion and more. Lucky for me that the day I showed up just happened to be the photo shoot for the new collection. I was privy to the styles, colors and energy of the new season.
Now, lets get personal…
[Valery] Igigi is a “Sister” team. Share with us a bit about Yuliya and Masha, what each of you do at Igigi and how you found your passion in plus size fashion.
[Yuliya] I am a founder, creative director and a fashion designer of IGIGI. Masha is our talented photographer, graphic and visual presentation designer. One of our missions is to transform the way curvaceous women are represented in the media. We work together to create unmistakable visual appearances, and powerful imaging through fashion design, photography, styling and graphics.
[Valery] How did come up with the name Igigi?
[Yuliya] I wanted to find a name that reflected my passion to create sensual, beautiful and stylish clothes in larger sizes that made women feel like goddesses. I was looking for the fun, short and a “sexy,” word that will constantly remind women that they are magnificent. I considered many names, but when I heard my friend coming up with “IGIGI”, it instantly felt right. IGIGI is pronounced in the French manner –
[Valery] Why did you decide to focus exclusively on the curvy woman?
[Yuliya] Prior to starting IGIGI, I had my own design studio where I was creating one-of-a-kind garments for private clients. The awakening moment came in 1999 when I went shopping with my mother, a voluptuous and beautiful woman who wears size 22. We visited several well known plus-size stores. Needless to say, after seeing the selection available in the stores, I was extremely disappointed. I began asking myself whether any woman could feel beautiful wearing the clothes that were available in the plus size stores. Would I personally enjoy dressing in this clothing, and how would it make me feel?
I realized that no matter what size a woman wears, she wants to look feminine, stylish and very attractive. The clothes that were available on the market did not do justice to women who wore them. At that moment my personal and professional mission was formed.
[Valery] What is the 'muse' for your collection?
[Yuliya] I usually looking for a theme, idea, or a direction for the collection. I could be inspired by several things that I experience. It could be art, architecture, film, textiles, nature, or an interesting trend direction. After that I choose a color story, find design inspirations and select fabrics. While thinking through the idea I begin coming up with dozens of silhouette designs. From concept to completion, the whole process can take up to three months.
[Valery] How have you been focusing on fit for the curvy figure? How does this differ from "Straight" fit issues?
[Yuliya] I must admit that the key to the success of IGIGI designs is our fit. It took us literally years to develop the absolutely perfect cut for our garments. However, today all of our efforts are certainly paying off with very low rates of returns, and happy customer continually calling us to share their satisfaction.
Although the concept for the perfect fit strategy for voluptuous figure of course is a bit more complex, the same ideas apply for all women's apparel design. The key is to accentuate the best features of the figure and de emphasize less flattering parts. Because there are so many figure types that women have, I usually consider this fact when designing each silhouette. The goal is to design variety of clothing that flatter all the different body shapes women have. Then we create patterns that will ultimately flatter a particular set of body shapes.
For instance the garment for the hourglass, triangle and figure eight shaped women will accentuate shapelier waists, while the bottom will have more ease built into it. And on the other hand, design for the inverted triangle, oval or the rectangular figure type will emphasize shapely legs, smaller hips, yet will skim over the upper part and the tummy area of the body.
We also test fit at least three finished sizes on one or two different fit models per size. This gives me a good idea if the garment will look flattering on the different figure types.
[Valery] You recently began using “myShape” – what is it and how can it help women flatter their curves?
[Yuliya] “myShape” is a shopping tool that is based on age-old idea of women having different figure types. We have implemented this wonderfully simple, yet powerful concept with the help of the “ShapeShopping™” expert, Catherine Schuller.
Many women find it difficult to buy clothes that will look good on their particular body shape. “myShape” helps women find clothes that are more flattering on their particular body silhouette. All of our designs are presented according to the figure shapes that they flatter most. Our customers can easily discover what body shape they are by entering their proportions in the shape calculator. Utilizing “MyShape” especially helps women shop online with confidence and much more ease.
[Valery] We all have bumps along the road – what has been your greatest challenge? Your greatest triumph?
[Yuliya] I have to admit that even though growing IGIGI has been definitely very challenging, I really feel that it has been amazingly satisfying and rewarding experience. However, when thinking about it I find the most challenging to be the beginning.
I started the business from the bedroom I shared with my sister Alla. I borrowed $2,000 from a friend; traded clothes for a home-made website and created a tiny collection of designs. Most importantly, I outfitted myself with the passion and belief that I had the ability to make the business successful.
Thus in February of 2000 I launched igigi.com.
I remember so many people telling me that what I had began was an impossible task and that I would definitely fail not having any experience in running and operating a business or any finances to develop it. However, with the help of my sister and support of our wonderful customers, IGIGI was able to survive through the most difficult times in the past five years.
Today IGIGI is a successful enterprise that has thousands of satisfied customers who absolutely love the unique and inspirational style that we create.
And this I would truly consider to be the greatest triumph.
[Valery] We always love a great story – do you have one to share about yourself, the industry, yourself in the industry, etc.
[Yuliya] I think that the most unexpected present that I received while running IGIGI was meeting Alex; who later became our CEO and my fiancé. Together we were not only able to grow the business from a tiny operation to an outstanding enterprise, but also build a loving, nurturing and passionate relationship.
[Valery] What can we look forward to in the near future with Igigi?
[Yuliya] Our goal to grow IGIGI brand is by constantly evolving, developing, and be a few steps ahead of the industry. We love to surprise our customers and consistently exceed their expectations. We have a lot of very exciting projects that are being developed right now, but to make things more interesting I am simply going to say, you ain’t seen nottin’ yet…
Visit Igigi online at Igigi.com.