Jodi Arnold may not be a household name, but this 20 year veteran of the fashion industry is helping The Limited have a positive impact on a demographic that has long been neglected when it comes to stylish clothing – the plus size woman.
Having grown up in Birmingham, Alabama, Arnold, whose mother was a seamstress, was exposed to dress-making from an early age, receiving her own sewing machine at 13. The day after her college graduation, her father drove her out to NY and she has been there ever since!
As with any career, Arnold’s has gone through a number of twists and turns, including having her own line for a time, to have her end up as the head of design for Eloquii, The Limited’s line for plus-size gals. Arnold had collaborated in 2009 with The Limited on a couple of capsule collections, but had never designed for the plus-size market. Hesitant at first to accept the position, she was finally convinced by CEO Linda Heasley that she was the right person for the job – based on the success of the Eloquii line, Heasley had it right!
When I spoke with Arnold last week, I could tell that she was deeply passionate about her current work. Regular interactions with customers help guide and inspire her. She enjoys designing clothing that fills a need. “No woman needs a $500 dress, but our plus-size customer is hungry for more and better clothing options.” When I ask Arnold about her most memorable interaction with a client, she tells me about a focus group that she was a part of where one particular customer was quite shy during the focus group itself, but later emailed Arnold an email both heartbreaking and hopeful. In the email, the woman recounted being taken by her mother to Talbott’s to shop for a suit to wear to post-college graduation job interviews. The experience left her in tears. In the changing room, she looked at herself and saw a “fat, old woman”, but there were no other clothing options available at the time, so Talbott’s it was. This customer expressed a great appreciation for what the Eloquii line was trying to bring to the table; Not only is the clothing fun, stylish and sexy, but it is also high quality.
If you take a look at what the Eloquii line has to offer, it’s easy to see that fit, cut, fabric and styling are being given all the attention they deserve. Arnold believes that a plus size woman can wear just about anything that a thin woman can, everything from skinny jeans, and pencil skirts, to patterns and stripes, but it all comes down to the “how”. Appropriate styling of the pieces is just as important as the right fit.
And what are Arnold’s favorite pieces from the Fall collection? She has a hard time picking and I have to agree, having flipped through the Fall Lookbook, that there are many, many great options! Fall will see fans of Eloquii rewarded with all kinds of wonderful pieces including one of Arnold’s favorites, a trench coat with leather sleeves. That sounds fun! “Do you guys have the trench coat for the skinny people?” I ask Arnold hopefully, she laughs. “I’m afraid not.” Bummer!
Check out The Limited’s grand re-opening and the official launch of Eloquii in Indianapolis, this Friday, June 8 at 10am at the Castleton Square Mall.