Average read time: 9 minutes.
Rebecca Garande is half of the popular plus-size clothing brand, Lee Bex, the other half being an influencer, content creator, and Insta darling Thickleeyonce. The company was founded in 2016 and since then has made impressive strides in the local fashion industry. A few scrolls on the Lee Bex review section on social media reveal a spate of positive comments from satisfied customers. It’s rare, especially for younger women, to have a stress-free and satisfying shopping experience. Finding correct fits, age-appropriate and stylish pieces can be somewhat unpleasant and depressing as most retailers in South Africa hardly cater for their body shapes.
Lee Bex offers garments for all ages and plus-size body shapes without compromising on quality fabric and design–it is an absolute haven!
Tell us about your background.
RG: I didn’t have any background in the fashion industry prior to starting Lee Bex–I come from a corporate background. I was intrigued by the fashion industry and the lack of plus-size clothing. This inspired me to fully invade this space. In a country where there are quite a lot of plus-size ladies, there weren’t enough fashion-forward clothes in the retail space. I saw it as an opportunity to bridge the gap by creating a niche clothing label for the plus-size market.
How did you meet Lesego (Thickleeyonce) and what value does she bring to the company?
RG: We met after I approached her to model for my swimwear clothing brand, FaveOnlineStore. I admired her for what she stood for. We went on to build our company, Lee Bex. Lesego and I are a good fit because she leans more towards the creative side of the business, while I’m involved in the everyday running of the business. We complement each other.
How do you identify the trends for each season?
RG: When it comes to trends, we conduct our research through various platforms including the media and the Internet, especially Pinterest. These platforms serve as good guidelines as to where the rest of the world is currently fashion-wise. However, we always try not to be too influenced by mainstream fashion. Maintaining focus on our own values as a business remains our core priority.
Are you planning to take LeeBex to the runway?
RG: We’ll definitely look at doing more of that in the near future. Two years ago, we had an opportunity to showcase our range at the AFI (African Fashion International). That was an incredible experience for our brand because there definitely was a lack of plus-size presence on that runway.
The typical LeeBex design is mostly dresses and skirts, are there plans to diversify into casual wear such as jeans and t-shirts?
RG: We have done jeans before, however, the production of jeans is quite strenuous and we currently don’t have the capacity. Perhaps in the future, we might curate a full range of clothing for our customers, including jeans, of course. We are always open to new business ventures, for instance as in our collaborative partnership with the acclaimed plus-size retailer, Donna.
Are there any plans to cater to men as well?
RG: At the moment, no (chuckles). That would be a whole new ball game for Lee Bex. Perfection of the craft is important and Lesego and I are still learning the intricacies of the fashion business.
Has the corona pandemic affected the running of the business?
RG: Definitely! Most of our customers purchase our clothes for functions and events, so when those events get canceled, we don’t get orders streaming in. Plus, we import our fabrics from overseas, so when there’s a lockdown, the production phase of the business is deeply affected. However, we’ve used the experience as a way of being more creative and savvy.
What are some of the other challenges that you face in the fashion industry?
RG: Being constantly creative and on top of your game is not an easy process in business because there’s a lot of competition from other plus-size retailers.
What differentiates LeeBex from the other plus-size clothing?
RG: Lee Bex is more than just a mere clothing brand. We occasionally create group photo shoots with some of our customers, granting them the opportunity to tell their own stories. We always drive the message of body positivity –women are encouraged to love who they are.