Since 2012, Jen Wilder, designer and founder of Cult of California has been promoting beauty in all sizes, health in all sizes and style for women of all sizes. With plus size fashion geared toward club wear, each season Cult of California presents a collection filled with dresses, leggings and tops in an effort to celebrate your curves and make you feel like the goddess that you are.
DailyVenusDiva.com considers the plus size fashion of Cult of California to be bold and fashion forward so we sat down with designer Jen Wilder and she was gracious enough to share her story and what an extraordinary story it is.
How and when did you realize that fashion was an industry that you wanted to be apart of?
I sort of came to the industry as an outsider looking for a place to fit in! As a young adult in the early 90’s I realized that there were very few options for my plus size body, this sparked my creativity to begin making my own unique clothes. I got a sewing machine as a gift from a friend and started making my own stylish clothes as a way of expressing myself. My entire family is creative and they could all sit around drawing and painting together but I was never that great at 2-d art, I was always a 3-d person and fashion design became a medium for me that I could excel at. When I first drove by FIDM in Los Angeles in 2000 I realized that making clothes was a career that was feasible and that was the day I decided I was going to become a professional designer! I was studying pre-med in school! I had originally wanted to become a forensic pathologist! I’m so glad I reconsidered because I really feel like I’m doing exactly what I was made to do! Giving big girls beautiful well-made clothing makes my heart soar!
What was your first job in the fashion industry?
My very first job in the industry was on a photo shoot at Barbara Striesand’s home for Laundry by Shelli Segal! I was hired as a stylists assistant. I made a great impression and got called back for a few more shoots. One day I was called into the office to help the creative director with some promotional materials, the rest they say is history! I met the President and head Designer that day in the office and they gave me a shot in the Design room! About 3 weeks later I was hired as an Associate Designer and started a full-time job as the Embellishment Designer while I still went to school at night! I drew beading layouts for evening dresses, sweaters, sportswear etc. It was an ideal situation and to this day I’m not sure it could be repeated! I landed a design job my first time! I never went through the internship/assistant pipeline and I thank my lucky stars for that! I may not be where I am today if I’d been hired as an assistant! The stars aligned!
What was the first think that you designed?
When I was fourteen I designed a few things that were pretty original but professionally I designed my first full garment at Forever 21! Up until that point I’d been one part of the garment’s design process but when I hit the design room at Forever 21 I designed knit tops for the “Twelve by 12” line. I designed a sweater with flowers that were made of ribbons (it was in style then! hahaha) and it sold out in the first week! I was very proud!
Who are your fashion icons and who and/or what inspires you?
I’m a big fan of eccentrics in fashion! Those that take risks, mix prints, have an individual style that is unique to themselves. Some of my favorite people to look at are Susie Bubble of www.stylebubble.co.uk/, I’m a huge fan of Iris Apfel, Betsey Johnson, Alexander McQueen, Daphne Guiness, Beth Ditto, Amy Winehouse, Lykke Li, Bjork and all the other little iconoclasts who follow the beat of their own drum! Fashion is boring without these eccentrics pushing the boundaries!
You recently participated in British Plus Size Fashion Week. Why is it important for you to participate in events such as BPSFW?
I think it is very important to participate in any event that you can that furthers the cause of fashion for plus sizes. We must support the visionaries that are looking ahead and planning a future spot in the fashion world for us designers who are catering to plus sized women and men! BPSFW was important because it was the first of it’s kind and I am always a fan of being there first! It is also important for us plus women and men to support the brands that are catering to our wants and needs, indie brands need so much support and exposure before the mainstream media will even take notice. We have to try as much as possible to make our brands visible and to lift up the cause as a whole. I am a tiny part of the plus size fashion universe but I can’t even shine if no one knows about me or supports my endeavors! I wish that we didn’t have to separate ourselves from the fashion conversation but it will be a long fight before we are considered to be in the same hemisphere as the “straight size” fashion world. BPSFW and other such events are small battles in this fight and are crucial to the development of the plus size fashion world as an entity bigger than ourselves.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak and tell my story! I appreciate it!
Find Cult of California Online:
- Shop: www.cultofca.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/cultofcalifornia
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/wildestwilder/cult-of-california
- Tumblr: www.cultofcali.tumblr.com
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/cultofcali