The Irish Times Article

The Irish Times Article

Lessons in looking the business

The right pair of trousers can transform your shape, boost confidence levels and deliver a look that is office appropriate

Annaoliva and Vanessa Durigon, founders of Shapemoda: 'The same pair of trousers will not fit every woman. Hip size, bottom-size and leg size all need to be factored in'

Two Italian sisters are bringing their nation’s bella figura style to trouser bottoms and legs, so that no matter your shape you’ll look sleek and confident – perfect professional attire for the return to the office.

In 2018, Vanessa and Annaoliva Durigon came up with a fashion idea so smart it was hard to believe no one had done it before: making clothes for body shape, not body size.

It came about when Annaoliva, who studied fashion business at the Marangoni Institute in Milan, decided to end the tyranny of standardised clothes sizes that were, quite literally, not fit for purpose.

“She thought dressing for your body shape would be a great business idea,” says Vanessa.

Annaoliva and Vanessa review their designs, first sketching in pencil and then uploading them to a specific digital programme.

“We designed them here in Ireland and found a very good company in Milan where we source our fabrics, and another near our home in Treviso to make them,” Vanessa explains.

First they went out onto the streets of Dublin and Milan, conducting surveys with women about their body shape. They then crunched the resulting data and discovered that the vast majority of women have one of five main body shapes.

In Ireland they found that most women have an hourglass body shape, with 42 per cent of those surveyed having hips and shoulders that are in proportion, a visible waist and curvy-shaped legs. The second-most typical form was apple-shaped women, with a fuller tummy, slim legs and a small bottom. The third-most typical form was pear-shaped, women with a small waist and curved hips. Women with what they describe as a candle-shape have shoulders, waist and hips of the same dimension. They describe the fifth body type as strawberry-shaped, those with larger shoulders, an athletic body and well-defined legs.

They then designed trousers that, in effect, contour your body, creating a level of customisation not available at this price point, which accentuates the positive of what each shape’s best asset is, whether it is an apple’s slim legs, the balanced curves of the hourglass figure, or the well-defined waist of the pear. Trousers cost €115 and jackets are €189.

“When you shop, clothing is always divided by style and size. But the same pair of trousers will not fit every woman,” explains Annaoliva. “Hip size, bottom-size and leg size all need to be factored in.”

Shapemoda does away with this frustration. “Ideally, when you go to a shop you should be able to find 10 items of clothing that you like, and from those select the ones you want to buy. But when it comes to trousers only two or three of these garments will fit your silhouette, even though they are all listed as being the same size.”

With Shapemoda, you get the right rather than the wrong trouser fit for you.

The sisters custom measure every pair of trousers to ensure they fit with their five body shapes

“Our trousers are designed to fit your shape, so our customers tend to go down a size,” Vanessa says. “That’s because we have taken away fabric inches from where they are not needed and redrawn the standard pattern to each shape in question.”

The business is online-only and features a quick questionnaire that enables you to establish in seconds which of the five body shapes you are.

The trousers come in a variety of colours and the sisters have extended the range to include jackets. Not alone does each garment fit well: these Italian-made wardrobe staples make the return to the office that little bit easier, offering sharp dressed, form-fitting but comfortable workwear.

“Our trousers are very versatile. If a woman is going to work they work with flat shoes and at night you can put on a high heels for dinner or cocktails. They also look great with a lovely pair of boots. If you want to crop the length for a change of look, you can fold the hem up or indeed down so they work for taller or shorter women too,” says Vanessa.

Their textile is a mix of elastane and jersey, so while looking the business, they also feel super comfy and drape beautifully. “We know good fabric,” Annaoliva says. “These can wash at 40 degrees and there is no ironing or tumble drying required. You can wear them two or three times a week and throw them in the wash and they won’t lose their shape or their colour for years.”

Mannequins of the five different body shapes the brand tailors its trousers and leggings to

Shapemoda recently introduced Pantaleggings, quality leggings designed to flatter all five body shapes, which retail for €89. This look professional enough to wear to work.

“We developed our Pantaleggings because we could see that during the pandemic people had been in tracksuits and leggings for two years, and we wanted to design something fancy enough to carry them through to work and a night out too,” Vanessa explains.

Shapemoda’s leggings have smart detailing, such as lace or drawstring waists, and use quality textiles that are designed to last.

The business has grown a loyal customer base here and in the UK. The demand to shop for shape rather than size isn’t only seen in sales, however, but in lack of returns.

“Some of world’s top brands can struggle with return rates as high as 50 per cent. Ours is between 3 and 5 per cent,” says Annaoliva, who reckons it is proof positive that “one size does not fit all”.



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