Eloquii’s latest designer drop checks more than one diversity box.
The Walmart subsidiary last week unveiled a collaboration with Melissa Mercedes, the Los Angeles Afro-Latina designer and inaugural winner of the Cultivate Awards. The Curvy Fashionista founder Marie Denee launched the Eloquii-sponsored grant program in 2021 to foster BIPOC design talent addressing plus-size fashion. Mercedes has spent the past year learning tricks of the trade from the creative leaders at the recent entrant into bridal, describing her mentorship with the label as “comprehensive and valuable both as a designer and an entrepreneur.”
“As a designer, I learned how to take on a collection from a different point of view,” said Mercedes, whose designs have been worn by Tyra Banks, Jordin Sparks and Amber Riley. Working with Eloquii also hammered home the “importance of having a customer profile and really understanding that customer and their needs and how to take this information into consideration when designing for them but still having a unique edit point [of view].”
“Additionally, I learned how to work with a team on a large scale and understand the many different aspects and parts of the company that work to make it all happen,” she added.
Retailing for $59-$149, the resulting 16-piece capsule offers day-to-night styles keying into top spring trends, from florals and strategic cutouts to polished suiting separates and a sequined romper. The collection marks the first time a designer collab from Eloquii, which starts at size 14, offered sizes 30 and 32 in a bid to address even more underserved consumers. Some of the brand’s Instagram followers were vocal about the expanded sizing, with comments asking for “more items up to 30/32” and hoping “future releases are just as inclusive.”
The capsule launched as the Cultivate Awards Year II prepares to select its next winner during a virtual finale show on April 23. Eloquii creative director Yesenia Torres, Full Figured Fashion Week creator Gwendolyn DeVoe, and celebrity stylist and “The Art of Dressing Curves” author Susan Moses will judge looks from finalists Angela René, Charniece White, LeAndra “Elle” Dove and Matthew Robinson, who received mentoring from plus-size influencer Gabi Fresh. A $10,000 prize and Eloquii mentorship will help the winner develop his or her business, in addition to producing a capsule next year in collaboration with the brand.
Working with emerging designers allows Eloquii deliver newness for shoppers, according to Torres. “We know and love that our customers want fashion to help express themselves, and this collection delivers a range of trend-driven styles with impeccable fit and attention to detail that you expect from Eloquii,” she said.