Venus Williams expands fashion label into plus-size: 'Representation matters'

Venus Williams, just like her sister, is a superhero. Not only is she a world-class tennis champion who is competing in the U.S. Open this week, but she is simultaneously launching a plus-size collection for her fashion label, EleVen, for the first time ever.

Behind the scenes with American Express and Venus Williams ahead of the 2018 U.S. Open, on July 19, 2018, in New York City. (Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for American Express)

For the exclusive launch, Williams is partnering with digital plus-size marketplace Dia&Co, which currently houses the largest plus-size activewear selection in the world. “Representation matters. I wanted this collection to connect with women no matter their shape or size,” Williams said in a press release. “Dia&Co was the only choice for this. I love what they’re doing for women. Their brand identity is all about expression, defining your own rules, having fun while doing it. That’s the core of my brand too. I love that we had the chance to bring EleVen to all women with this partnership.”

Model wears a color-block print jacket and leggings from EleVen by Venus Williams. (Photo:  Fumie Hoppe/ Dia .com)

This new plus-size extension is composed of jackets, tanks, and pants. The pieces were designed to be effortlessly integrated into a woman’s everyday lifestyle, acting as fundamental activewear building blocks, and ranging in size between 0X to 3X, with prices between $55 and $88. And it’s just the first installment of more to come, with the next set for October.

Before the launch, EleVen offered sizes only up to XL, so the expansion signifies a big step forward for the label, at a time when more brands are thinking about size-inclusivity.

Dia&Co.’s director of design, Marita Aikonen, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the collection emphasizes how “you can be any size and you can still feel athletic, without thinking [about] size as a restriction.”

Model wears pink hoodie and blue pants from EleVen by Venus Williams. (Photo:  Fumie Hoppe/ Dia .com)

Regarding the partnership’s design process, Aikonen says, “There’s no better way of fitting a garment than somebody having it on them on their body, with models testing each item and then answering questions about size and fit, so that any issues can be addressed in the design process. Small details like the armhole size, seams, pocket size, and level of stretch in the materials are all examples that are taken into consideration.”

Model wears pattern tank and blue pants from EleVen by Venus Williams. (Photo:  Fumie Hoppe/ Dia .com)

Aikonen, who has over 20 years of experience working in the plus-size space and who launched Old Navy’s activewear, has been dubbed by Dia&Co. as the “size whisperer.” So while Williams was the designer, “what she leaned onto us more for [was] about the fit, and our expertise on fit,” she says.

You can shop the new EleVen plus-size collection now on, plus catch a glimpse of it at the theCurvyCon, celebrating the plus-size fashion community in New York City, Sept. 6 through 8.

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

Size did not ‘dictate their accomplishments’: Why Gabourey Sidibe and WWE’s Nia Jax will headline theCurvyCon
Meet the 7 most stylish plus-size men on Instagram 
Candice Huffine on why curvy women are over having to explain their bodies: ‘Now dress her, dammit’ 

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