This Melbourne-made label is riding high on consumer demand for edgy, diverse plus-size clothing
Husband-and-wife team Kerry and Angelo Pietrobon founded the niche fashion label Harlow nearly a year ago. Kerry handles design, thanks to her technical background in patternmaking and product development. Meanwhile, Angelo manages logistics and finances.
Harlow’s seasonal collections interpret on-trend cuts and silhouettes for sizes 14-24, such as high-low hems, skinny pants and pencil skirts. They employ glamorous textures including lace, chiffon, metallic foil and Harlow’s signature wet-look ‘scuba’ finish.
Kerry envisions the Harlow customer as a bold, fun-loving, confident woman. “She is a little rock’n’roll, likes clothes that enhance her shape rather than hide it, a little bit naughty but nice.”
One surprisingly successful Harlow garment is the ‘Studio 54’ sequined bomber jacket: “I was a little afraid that it would be one of those pieces that everyone commented on but didn’t buy!” But it’s sold well in Australia and even via wholesale to the United States – for Kerry, proof that “our Harlow girl is fierce and is not afraid to own it!”
Many Harlow styles are made in only 30 units. This lets Kerry work with small amounts of unusual fabrics, while keeping the range fresh. These ‘limited editions’ also offer the satisfaction of knowing only 29 other people worldwide can own the same garment. “We hope we will always be able to keep a part of that exclusivity within our ranges.”
Manufacturing such small product runs locally isn’t easy, but Kerry says it’s worth it for the shorter lead times and improved quality control: “Our suppliers and manufacturers are an integral part of our team.”
Online retailing’s ability to reach previously neglected shoppers has driven the recent boom in plus-size fashion. Harlow sells through its own website and the online shopfront The Iconic, as well as in selected bricks-and-mortar boutiques.
But having participated in the Hey Fatty and Friends plus-size market – “we had so much fun there, meeting people, chatting, having them give us their feedback” – the Pietrobons now run ‘Salon Saturdays’ in their Brunswick studio. Harlow is eventually aiming for a pop-up store, but until then, pop in and say hello from 11am-1pm on the first Saturday of each month.
420 Victoria St