Getting the perfect wedding dress is said to be one of the most stressful tasks when a woman is planning her big day. However, designer Ouma Tema says that for fuller-figured women, this stress is more amplified because there’s not enough dresses that accommodate them in stores.
Having had to always ask tailors to customise clothing items for her, Tema decided to start her own clothing brand, Plus-Fab, which specifically caters to the clothing needs of women who are like her.
She recently added a bridal gown collection to her brand and has asked beautiful, curvaceous women such as Busiswa, Mogau ‘The Lazy Makoti’ Seshoene and Celeste Ntuli to model the range for her.
She speaks to TRUELOVE about the bridal range and her love for fashion.
What inspired the idea behind starting a bridal line for curvy women?
I am a curvaceous woman. Finding clothes that suit my body type and accentuate my body has always been a hassle. I started customising clothes for myself, and I would post on social media. This attracted attention from friends who struggled with the same issue. In 2011, I started Plus Fab, designing clothes for curvaceous women. This was to help build their self-esteem.
This year, to celebrate 10 years of existence, I decided to take the brand to the next level and include bridal wear. Plus size women struggle with finding ready-to-wear bridal gowns. Going to a bridal shop as a big woman can create a lot of anxiety and stress. There are hardly any beautifully designed bridal gowns in the market. We wanted to create something classy, classic and yet make a bride feel beautiful. Our gowns are available for customised wear, ready-to-wear, and for hire.
What challenges do you think curvy women face when it comes to fashion?
Beautiful clothes usually go up to a certain size, and we are left with having to wear clothes that are not trendy, fashionable, or comfortable. We then have to squeeze ourselves into clothes that don’t fit. Big manufacturers have ignored full-figured women because they were not considered beautiful or healthy. But luckily, things are shifting, and we are happy to be part of a journey that empowers women, builds confidence and is not about just clothes but a culture of bringing women up.
Do you think enough is being done to accommodate bigger women when it comes to fashion in our country?
Things are slowly getting there. Curvy women are being seen on ramps more often. African designers are starting to make sizes that accommodate African women from across racial lines. But there is still a long way to go.
What is different about your clothes?
Our clothes cater specifically to the needs of fuller women. We have created a movement of making curvy fashionistas. Plus-Fab is geared towards the fashion savvy, modern-day plus size woman who is looking for plus size fashion that not only fits but accentuates her curves.
We create a range of clothing that embraces as opposed to cover up curves. Plus size women of our time are not looking for what fits but what is sassy chic and fabulous.
Why did you choose Busiswa, Celeste, and Mogau to model your clothes?
They embody the Plus-Fab woman. String, bold, confident, and winning in their careers. They are self-made, hard-working stars who are loved for their authenticity and realness. I have dressed all three of them for red-carpets and we have maintained a solid sisterly relationship. They see the vision of the brand and they are passionate about empowering other women.
Is fashion something you’ve always wanted to venture into?
I have always loved fashion but finding clothes that suited me or looked good on my figure was a struggle. I was born in Namakgale township in Limpopo. I graduated from TUT in PR Management. I worked in communications for the government, until the idea of Plus Fab came alive. I did not study fashion but had to acquire a few lessons along the way; understanding patterns, cutting of garments, and sketching, so that I am well equipped in the business.
Where would you like to see Plus Fab in the next 5 years?
We have clientele in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, USA, Canada, London, and we are growing, and we now hope to attract an even bigger international market.