Embracing Every Size
Photo by Mackenzie McCreary
The average size of an American woman today is a size 14 according to an article by the LA Times, yet ironically, this size and any above are very difficult to find in your average retail-clothing store.
Phoenix clothing boutique Vox aims to combat this issue by serving the “average” woman and a curvier audience.
“There was nothing in Arizona as far as in-between sizes and plus-size boutiques…only one percent of stores cater to audiences above a size 10, says Andy McManis, owner of Vox. "We wanted to bring fashion-forward clothing, not stuff your grandma would wear.”
McManis and husband Joe McManis opened Vox as well as Glamazon, a curvy clothing exchange, in the past year to cater to in-between sizes and more curvy women.
Photo by Jessie Wardarski
“I get a lot of girls who are excited about their closets for the first time,” says Andy, who also works full time for a finance firm.
Glamazon was the first of the two shops, opening in June of 2013. Glamazon is a clothing exchange store where customers can bring in their clothing and get 40 percent credit to buy something new.
“A lot of times, curvier girls are trying to lose weight, and you’ll go into their closets and find an arrange of sizes that they don’t want to give up…as they lose weight they can trade clothes in and get new stuff, that’s kind of the concept behind it,” Andy says.
With runway-inspired fashion, Vox, is the second addition to the two and brings a very different feel next to its neighbor, Glamazon.
Vox boutique features clothing you wouldn’t normally see in stores, especially for sizes 10 and up. They aim to help bring the runway look to the customer with higher-end clothing.
“It is a different experience…we have funky, edgy stuff with lots of bright colors and crazy print; it’s fun fashion,” Andy says.
With limited merchandise in the store at a time, when a customer visits Vox they are able to see the pieces put together as art.
Andy and Joe McManis are very much about promoting positive body image in their store and community.
“As a girl, it can be difficult struggling with body image. A lot of times girls will have negative experiences looking for clothes that fit their body type,” Andy says. “When people say that real women have curves…well real women may have curves and they may not, that does not make you a real woman.”
Andy is all about the personal customer experience, helping women find clothes that work the best for them when they come in the store.
“Most of the time people leave here with a bag full of clothes that they might not necessarily have first chosen," Andy says. "I like to go around and help them get out of their comfort zones.”
At a young age, Andy began making her clothes and ultimately styling for her friends in high school.
Photo by Mackenzie McCreary
“The fashion industry was pretty scary for me because I was a bigger girl, and even ten years ago there wasn’t anything about body positive,” Andy says. “It was a weird, uncomfortable environment for me but eventually I ended up coming back to fashion.”
As of March of last year, it took the couple two months to go from the original concept of the two stores to actually making them happen.
“If you would’ve told me a year ago that I would own a store and be into fashion I would’ve said you are crazy, but I certainly enjoy it,” Joe says.
Recently, the store owners have added men’s wear as well, called Vox International.
“There is a lot of stuff you can’t find as a man shopping downtown, so that’s what I wanted to provide, that kind of look that’s a little different,” Joe says.
The line focuses on styles from Europe and includes sizes from extra small all the way to 3x, serving a large audience of men.
Andy and Joe are able to get local curvy models to showcase their clothing; they also have been able to feature artists who celebrate the body and different body types through their works.
“I like that they don’t stigmatize here," says Phoenix resident Jennifer Soules. "They are positive about embracing whomever you are and owning it."
The owners want their customers to be able to find something they love and be excited about their experience and be excited about themselves, a concept that is hard for a lot of women to embrace while shopping.
“Society in general says you need to fit into a size zero or on the other side that zero is not a size…you shouldn’t be defined by a number,” Soules says.
Andy and Joe hope their boutique is a place all women can feel comfortable shopping at.
“When someone puts down their body, they are making someone else more critical of their own body and its contagious…you don’t have to be plus size to be affected by body image,” Andy says. “The more we can embrace what we like about our bodies the better.”
Vox is located on 1022 N. 5th Street in central Phoenix.