Finally, a luxury line has arrived for petite women 5'5" and below. The 16th Bar, led by 4'11" designer Frankie Ortiz, presented its debut collection in Los Angeles late last year. Currently only available online, but with plans to open brick and mortar stores, the collection consists of skirts, dresses and jackets and features true petite models 5'5" and below. Recently, DelectablyChic! spoke with Ms. Ortiz to discuss her new collection:
On the name, The 16th Bar:
I grew up in dance and theatre, and wanted to incorporate some sort of musical aspect into the name. A bar is equivalent to a measure in music, and when you reach the 16th bar in a song, you've heard the intro, the melody, the mood, and your subconscious automatically formulates this first impression of the song. The same thing happens when someone walks into a room. In that first glance of noticing their outfit, that first impression, that's The 16th Bar.
On what makes her line different from other petite brands, including mall lines such as J.Crew and Banana Republic:
In actuality, there really aren't very many petite brands at all. As you've listed before in articles for top brands for petites, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor are the only ones with "petite" sizes but aren't a petite brand. And brands like Gap, H&M, and several other independent brands all claim to be "petite-friendly." The problem is, how will petite consumers trust their fit when every model is 5'7" or taller? That's not petite, that's just a label they slap on to sell to the mass market. I researched and studied and tested several fits for two years before launching the first collection. I'm not here to be another name in fashion. I'm here to give the absolute best fit and best quality clothing petites have ever seen.
On why she thinks plus sizes get more press and how she'd like to see things changed:
It's mass market. A plus size woman can't just fit into a garment from a store that only carries small, medium and large. But petites can throw on a small, even shop Juniors if they feels like it. It doesn't fit them correctly, but they fit into it. So why would they feel the need to complain? What we are doing is building a brand of designer items made for a petite frame. This has never been done before. Petites deserve a real luxury brand.
On how the media and fashion industry have reacted:
We've received an amazing response! From media, the industry, and our fans. We've been told our Fall 2012 show was one of the best shows in L.A., we've been compared to brands and shows from New York, and have been listed as "Must Have Pieces for the Holiday Season!" Here's one of the first articles from our Fall 2012 runway show.
On petite celebs she'd like to dress:
Ah! There are so many! Kristen Bell is definitely one of my favourites. Mila Kunis, absolutely. And Natalie Portman is an icon.
On The 16th Bar's demographics:
Strong, powerful, innovative women. The women who work tirelessly to achieve their goal, who break barriers and risk it all and are the taste-makers who have the power and voice to change a generation. The 16th Bar isn't for every woman, but it's the woman we all want to be.
Well, more importantly, where do I see the company in five and 10 years? Because I will still be BBQing in my backyard with my friends. We're already in the works of designing the No16 Spring Collection, which is the streetwear brand under The 16th Bar umbrella, and will feature plenty of everyday items like trousers, tops, and jeans that you could wear anywhere, and continue The 16th Bar RTW collections as the luxury garments. We're hoping that within 10 years, the industry has caught up with this lack of petite wear and petite women's wear becomes a norm. I mean, can you imagine if Chanel had a petite line? That would be monumental.
Photography by Kyle Chamberlain of Seed Theory Advertising
This interview was also published in DelectablyChic!