In the world of fashion, it’s safe to say that most pieces seem to be catered to the tall women who saunter down the catwalks every season. Yes, we’ll spot a petite gal every once in awhile doing her own thing, but the majority of fashion labels are not focused on women who are 5’4” or below. As a “shorty” myself, I completely understand the struggle of finding jeans that don’t cover my feet, skirts that won’t look like full-length gowns, and tops that aren’t meant to be oversized, but just happen to be so once on.
Being petite should not be something looked down upon in the fashion world, just like being full-figured shouldn’t be as well. Luckily though, moves are being made in this traditional field that sometimes feels as if it will never budge.
We’ve seen curvy models make it onto magazine covers and “shorties” take over catwalks. With every woman who breaks the glass ceiling, we get closer to more diversity in fashion and making designers rethink what they are putting out onto the market. Petite Studio, the only online womenswear brand made specifically for petite women, is one such label that has joined the innovative fashion lines. Created in 2015 and based in the city that never sleeps, this New York brand is not only made for petite women, but is created by them as well!
Each piece sold on petitestudionyc.com is thoughtfully made from head to toe. This is shown in their small, yet high-quality collections that debut on their site every season. And as thoughtful and caring as this company is, it isn’t everything they do; Petite Studio donates 10% of its profits to New York-focused charities and pursues volunteer activities in NYC with its employee base and network. We chatted with the founder, Jenny Howell, about this incredibly moving brand that is anything but small, despite being called petite.
Cliché: What led you to start Petite Studio?
Jenny Howell: We really felt like there was a market need for a dedicated brand for the petite frame. As a petite girl myself, I really felt underserved by most of the major brands and wished there was a brand that catered specifically to petites. I have always felt like if you are 5’9” and thin, you can wear almost anything and look great. But us petites really need to be thoughtful about what we wear to flatter our best attributes. We can’t just wear anything off the rack because most of the time there is something about the piece that just doesn’t really fit—either the sleeve is too long, or the length of the clothes is too long, etc.
Petites really require special attention to help them look their best. I always looked for pieces that made me look taller and slimmer, and that’s what we’re trying to do here. This brand is all about catering to petite girls and providing thoughtful pieces that help them look their absolute best.
Additionally, for me personally, I have always had a passion for fashion and a heart for being an entrepreneur. So far, running a business is a ton of fun!
How are you mastering the petite frame? Can you tell us a little bit about your fit and sizing strategy and offerings?
Our sizes are S, XS, and XXS. These are sizes that are very difficult to find just walking into any boutique store, and we found that petite girls generally fit into these sizes. We took measurements of many petite models who are below 5’4” to find petite standard sizing.
In terms of mastering the petite frame, we’re really trying to create pieces that make petites look tall and slim. Petites can’t wear all the same pieces as tall runway models. When you’re really tall, you have a lot of flexibility of what you can wear, but when you’re petite, you have to be more careful and wear things that flatter your frames.
Who is your ideal Petite Studio customer?
Our ideal customers are girls who are below 5’4” and usually wear XS and XXS. They are typically young professionals, aged 21-35, are career-oriented, and enjoy quality of life. They care about the quality and design of their wardrobe. We’re also centered in New York City, and the New York spirit is at the core of everything we do. We’re trying to empower petite girls living in a city atmosphere to look great during the workweek, but to also be able to let their hair down and have some fun on the weekend.
How often will you be releasing new items?
We’re planning to release new pieces each month and also have seasonal collections. We’re not trying to go too fast or rush the process; we want to grow slowly and provide a small number of pieces that our customers can really be proud of.
What is your goal or focus for Petite Studio in the future?
We’re not trying to be everything to everyone. We’re not trying to expand out of what we know best. Our focus is really on developing our brand to cater to petite girls and provide them with the type of thoughtful wardrobe pieces that they can’t find anywhere else. We don’t want to grow too fast at the expense of that special touch. Our plan is to continue making a small number of high-quality pieces that the petite girls community can really be excited about.
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“Petite Studio Is Anything But Small” originally appeared in Cliché Magazine’s Feb/March 2017 issue. Photographs courtesy of Petite Studio.