PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA (REUTERS) - Plus Fab, a fashion line catering for big women in South Africa is bringing plus size to the catwalk and changing stereotypes in the fashion world to show that fashionable is not always skinny.Pretoria based business woman and designer Ouma Tema, fed up of not finding stylish, trendy clothes in her size when she went shopping, launched the line two years ago.
The 29-year-old says her frustration was shared by many big women. She recently launched a winter line of garments that she described as easy to cross over from work to cocktail, to rave reviews in the capital, Pretoria.
Tema says she hopes to empower other big women to embrace and celebrate their size through her fashion line.
"I'm not relying on magazines to tell me what's hot, I'm relying on myself and my own self worth to know what's hot and what's not. And this is also to show that we plus-size woman nothing about us without us if you want to be seen, if you want to be recognised and you realise that we are plus and fabulous. This is, initiatives like these are there to actually showcase that in one day they will grow and become bigger and reach the greater parts of the world," she said.
Weight and questions of what constitutes a healthy and attractive body image have been flashpoints in fashion for years.
Guests at the Plus-Fab show said seeing weighty women strut with confidence and wearing flattering garments was enlightening.
"The show was really nice honestly, I learned a lot that plus woman can also look beautiful," said Rodney Modise.
The plus size women attending the launch said they liked what they saw.
"I think what Ouma is trying to say that you know what, I am big, I am a thick madame, I am voluptuous, I have a bit of meat here and there but I love it, it's who I am. I don't wanna stress myself getting on a diet or anything but its who I am I feel very comfortable about it then what the hell I'm happy about it, " said one guest Lebo Butholo.
"I think what Ouma is trying to say that you know what, I am big, I am a thick madame, I am voluptuous, I have a bit of meat here and there but I love it, it's who I am. I don't wanna stress myself getting on a diet or anything but its who I am I feel very comfortable about it then what the hell I'm happy about it, " added another guest, Tumi Komapi.
Many in the industry have praised Tema for championing a fashion line that highlights the idea that beauty comes in different sizes.
Plus Fab's popularity has grown since its inception and the label's clothes are increasingly being featured in local style and fashion magazines.
Make-Up artist, Nina Shembe worked with Tema and some models during a recent photo shoot.
"Beauty for me, I think it's just when a woman can carry herself, that's beauty to me you know. Its not defined by the amount of make-up that somebody putts on, if you just confident in your skin and the way you look, that's what I believe in," said Shembe.
Plus Fab recently launched it's first online store to cater to growing demand, some of which comes from social media platforms like Facebook.
"I call them confidence pictures, its a confidence picture where you can look at yourself and look how pretty and gorgeous you look and believe that you are plus and fabulous. This is my little gift, my therapeutic gift to all the pluses woman that agreed to come and model for us, so every year we do this gown shot because we believe that yes we are "I am plus fabulous," she said.
Tema hopes to expand her business to markets outside South Africa.