Sympli Designer – Jan Stimpson

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About:

White House Design Company- Vancouver

Available through independent retailers across North America

Thirteen years ago, Jan Stimpson, the owner/designer, found herself frustrated with the narrow ideals propagated by the fashion industry and this dissatisfaction gave rise to a vision: create an innovative line of clothing that will celebrate the diversity of the feminine figure.

Thus, Sympli was born: a collection of high-quality, basics that uses a “fit formula” (including snug, relaxed and tunic) to complement and enhance all body types.  Thus allowing women of all shapes and sizes to achieve a similar look. Today, the line has evolved to include exciting novelty pieces that allow women to flawlessly mix and match over 300 designs and 30 colours to build entire wardrobes catered to their unique sense of style.

In 2011, the White House Design company launched Sympli Grand, a plus-size division of the Sympli clothing line.  It was a personal project from the beginning: we vowed to create beautiful garments that didn’t hide the plus-size figure, but instead emphasized its best features. The sizes range from 0G – 3G and each is available in Signature and Demi fit with a choice of neckline, and shirt, pant and sleeve length. This offers a variety of fun, stylish options designed specifically for a fuller figure while maintaining the versatility, flexibility, fabrication and comfort Sympli is renowned for. It is our profound desire to empower all women with garments that let them celebrate their beauty with comfort and confidence.

Questions:

1. I love your new spring collection! Tell me about when you started designing and how did that come about?

  • My career in fashion started close to 40 years ago and my previous collections, which were more focused on novelty pieces, always addressed the needs of real women of all shapes and sizes.

  • The Sympli concept was conceived about 17 years ago when I realized that the trend in fashion had shifted. A size 10 was now a large in fashion boutiques and this was unnerving and intimidating to me, as well as to other women I knew. The ultimate blow came when trying to find a flattering T-shirt to wear everyday – no luck. It seemed like a fun and successful shopping trip was a thing of the past.

  • Sympli was my solution, focussing on women who were unique – not only in body but in mind and spirit. Designing a collection of everyday wearable separates, which accommodated every body, was a necessity.

  • We introduced a collection of styles in different fits (slim, relaxed, tunic) that would meet the resounding demands. We also had to address that women’s lifestyles were changing and clothing had to be easy to fit, style, care for, and above all, be comfortable. Basically, we just wanted to make women feel good and eliminate the unnecessary stress of feeling that you don’t fit into a cookie-cutter mold. We wanted women to feel empowered to express their individual beauty without limitation.

2. Is fashion something you’ve always been interested in? How were you able to turn your passion into a full time job?

  • Following an 8-year career as a paralegal and becoming a stay-at-home mom, I was creating fashion lines and pieces that would best accommodate my lifestyle while raising children. When kids went to high school, I decided to explore this passion on a larger scale and founded Sympli.

  • Sympli really spawned out of a basement in North Vancouver with three employees. We brought in family and friends to help when our demand grew and created a real family atmosphere in our business.

  • Today, we employ close to 100 people, mostly women, in our Burnaby offices and have another 40 sewers working from home in the Lower Mainland. Yet, we still maintain a very family-like environment in our company.

3. Tell me more about Sympli’s formula and do you feel this is a key to your success, why?

  • Sympli’s formula is to dress real bodies and all bodies – we are all different so this means we offer choice. For example many of our tops come in slim, relax, tunic and grand.

  • We have many different widths and lengths of pants and offer all types of different necklines and hems in tops. This is the key to our success because we really have something for everyone.

  • It’s up to you how you put everything together to make it your own style. We want all women, any size, height, or age to get dressed effortlessly and feel good in all of our styles.

4. Would you say that your designs have a particular style and do you think your style has changed over the years?

  • The wonderful thing about our collections is the endless ways to combine and create looks that meet every woman’s taste. Whether you’re a minimalist in all black or an eccentric artist, you are able to create a personal look using our pieces.

  • What’s most important in our designs is not the aesthetic itself but the countless hours we spend on ensuring proper fit. Our design team works on making sure that the garments are flattering on every body and that women who wear them are free to express their personal style, whatever that may be. The possibilities are endless.

  • We believe in “effortless dressing” – some of the styles, like the Crop Smock, for example is perfect for those looking to build an efficient wardrobe, because it can be incorporated into any type of outfit – either casual or dressy. Again, Sympli is all about endless possibilities and comfort.

  • Sympli evolves with each collection, and we keep introducing more sophisticated, fashion forward styles to our consumer, while staying authentic to the vision of effortless dressing.

5. Where do you get the inspirations for your designs? Tell me a bit about your creative process.

  • My inspiration starts with the evolution of our existing line – asking the questions
    • What are we missing?
    • What do we need to go with this particular top or bottom?
    • What are our customers asking for?

  • Our line is about wardrobe building; we want to make sure that women can keep adding to their closet and mixing and matching from one season to the next.

  • Another big place I draw inspiration from is the fabric in relation to the body. I play around a lot with draping the physical cloth on a dress form; pinning, tucking, and pleating to see how different details look on different parts of the body and play around with where things are the most interesting, but still flattering.

  • We also incorporate trend forecasting in our design process, but we interpret them in a way to make them timeless rather than lasting for 1 or 2 seasons.

6. What are some of the challenges that you experience when designing?

  • It is a challengee designing for all bodies because we are all so different in shape and style. We work a lot on our fit, fitting the same style on many different bodies and move seams, lower or higher hemlines, take in or add fabric to ensure it’s as flattering as possible on all shapes.

  • This process is time-consuming, but the results are worth it. It really feels great to design this way and you learn so much more.

  • Another challenge (but also an opportunity) is designing with the same fabric from season to season, you are forced to really think outside the box to be inventive and learn new techniques to keep the line looking fresh and new, but it is really amazing how much you can do with one fabric.

7. What kind of feedback have you received from your customers in terms of clothing style, fit and quality?

  • Our most common feedback from customers is how much women love our fit. We work so hard on this and it pays off. Women know they can go into a store and try on a piece of Sympli and it will fit great.

  • We also get a lot of compliments on our style offerings. Our line is so diverse that no matter what you’re looking for – basic to really funky and layered we have it.

  • Women love how timeless our pieces are and how they can wear them for many seasons and mix and match with their wardrobe to always be playing around and creating new outfits.

  • Quality is also very important to us, so we spend a lot of time ensuring we are putting out the highest quality goods.

8. I see you carry a range of sizes, what have been some of the most popular items for plus size/curvy women?

  • Our most popular styles for curvy women are often the most popular styles in our line in general as the styles are made to flatter all shapes. When a style works, it really works.

  • In particular the styles that are more fitted around the bust, while flowing over the stomach are really flattering for plus size, they show off the assets and give a lot of shape.

  • Also styles with lower necklines or cut outs at the neck or shoulder work really well for plus size as that part of the body is always flattering.

  • For pants, slimmer widths or leggings worn with tunics have been what the curvy customers have been gravitating to.

9. Do you have any suggestions for curvy women on how to dress their body and feel confident?

  • It’s good to get to know your own body and choose which areas you want to enhance.

  • In general for plus size emphasizing the bust, neck and shoulders is flattering and choosing styles with some swing and drape over the mid-section of the body.

  • You can choose our T length of tops with a mid to wide leg pant, and our tunic length with our slim pants or leggings.

10. What are your future plans for Sympli, are there areas you’d like to expand?

  • In the future, we’d love to introduce Sympli to the European market and continue inspiring women to be themselves, feel comfortable in their bodies and clothes, and pay more attention to each other.

11. FabUplus is the FIRST weight neutral, body positive, health, fitness and lifestyle magazine specifically dedicated to women with curves.  What are your thoughts on this new media platform for the plus sized community?

  • This is a great platform for the plus size community. It’s so important to give this community a voice.

  • It’s refreshing to see a magazine reaching out to women of all sizes on body acceptance, and self-esteem.

  • It’s so nice to see different shapes of women rather than the same one over and over, it’s so much more relatable to all women.

  • There has been a lot on social media about plus size bloggers, plus size fashion week and many brands shifting from using one size model to embracing many sizes and offering plus size lines.

  • There seems to be a real shift from trying to become this ideal body shape to embracing who you are, being individual and loving yourself.

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