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Fashion often is a seductive illusion of glamour and fantasy. Airbrushed photos and designer staples worn by size extra-small models might be pleasing to the eye, but when it comes to real life, does style come in all sizes? What is often available in size 8 is rarely found in sizes above 14. These fashion rules don’t make sense to Lithuanian fashion designer Julia Janus,who fights fashion stereotypes by breaking them.
Culture Trip: Your mantra is ‘Style has no limits’. Can you explain when and why have you decided to try and change the existing rules of the fashion industry?
Julia Janus: Style has no limits. It’s my ambition to not discriminate against people who are not defined by sizes S–L, height 5 ft. 6 in. and age 25. A hell of a lot of people are left out due to the superficial canons of the fashion industry. I want them to have a choice. I want to help them defy fake standards and understand that we all have equally important bodies and personalities. We are part of nature, and the reason we appreciate nature is diversity.
Before I started my avant-garde Julia Janus fashion line for all sizes, I worked for a number of fashion brands and experienced the overwhelming standardisation of norms, and the overall instigation of youth cult resulting in fear of gaining weight or growing older. I saw regular fashion stores and specialised ‘plus-size’ fashion stores that you wouldn’t enter because no one wants to bear a label. It was so unfair that I decided to go against all the rules and defy standards.
Even today, the industry is slow to change. Fortunately, my ideas have managed to break through and I discover more and more likeminded designers.
CT: You and your friends put yourselves in front of cameras for your own campaigns. What’s the reason behind it?
JJ: My mission is to provide accessible progressive style to the people of all shapes and sizes. I declare anti-discrimination to body shape, age and gender. According to the industry, I am not an ‘ideal’ size –my size is a UK 16. I wanted to be a part of my campaigns to help people relate to fashion – idols are usually unreal. For this reason, I also included more people of different sizes, ages and gender; people who responded to my open call on Facebook, my office colleagues and friends.
CT: What do you think about the plus-size industry?
JJ: I think it’s a made-up industry that exists in quite a vulgar form. I can see that the fashion industry is still very discriminatory; agents still specialise only in ‘regular’ or ‘plus-size’ brands, fashion is not universal.
CT: What do you think about the term ‘plus-size’ in general?
JJ: I honestly think it’s a discriminatory term dividing society into categories of which one has more worth than the other. This is done by employing preconceptions that polluted the fashion industry over fifty years ago. It’s time to understand that we are all too different genetically, anthropologically and emotionally to fit into three sizes.
CT: What are your product sizes?
JJ: Julia Janus manufactures ten different sizes in womenswear and six menswear sizes.
CT: Your menswear collection is pretty revolutionary in terms of plus-size menswear fashion market. Can you tell us about the demand?
JJ: Julia Janus’s menswear line is unique. I haven’t yet encountered another avant-garde menswear designer who offers a wide scale of sizes for men. Our menswear line is just three years old, in comparison to our nine-year-old womenswear line. However, it’s international growth is much quicker. Men from all over the world, tall and mighty, wearing sizes up to XXXXL, travel to find us.