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Danielle Williams Eke is a fashion designer with nearly 15 years of experience in the industry. For the last decade, she has specialized in designing extended sizes, pioneering patterns, fit and silhouettes for the plus size customer. She is an expert in all aspects of the design process and has proven success in the art of balancing creativity with growing a thriving fashion business.
Danielle currently serves as design director at 11 Honoré, the high-end e-tailer catering to women sizes 12 and above, where she spearheads design and production for the brand’s first private label line, The 11 Honoré Collection. Prior to 11 Honoré, Danielle was with plus size brand Torrid where she oversaw the design team.
MJ: Tell us how you got your start in fashion design?
DW: I initially started with fashion in high school—we had a fashion club where the students were charged with designing and creating their own looks or repurposing thrift items. I also attended a program at Parsons the summer going into Senior Year of high school which was so rewarding and from that experience I decided I wanted to pursue my undergrad in Fashion Design.
MJ: What inspires you and your creative process?
DW: My main inspiration has and always will be women. I think women are strong and multi-faceted. It is an honor to create designs that will dress them for all occasions and phases of their lives. Additionally, travel has always been a huge inspiration or me—from the people, to traditions, to architecture and local street style.
The personal style of Danielle Williams Eke
MJ: How does your personal style affect your design work?
DW: I definitely draw on my personal style while designing, which can be a bit eclectic. Some days are more femme and romantic, other days my casual with a nod to streetwear. I use those aesthetics as inspiration for the clothes I’m designing—I want to make sure there is something that fits everyone’s personal style.
MJ: You’ve designed some amazing pieces, can you tell us about one project that you're especially proud of and why?
DW: The 11 Honoré Collection is a project I am beyond proud of. Frankly, it has not been easy to get to this point in my career but I have learned a great deal along the way. The 11 Honoré Collection has been a labor of love because it has allowed me to use my 10+ years of experience in designing the collection. The collection is pushing the boundaries when it comes to size inclusivity within contemporary fashion forward and I'm honored to be a part of it.
Click HERE to see more of the 11 Honoré Private Label and to shop.
MJ: What’s one thing you want other designers to know about the plus-size consumer before they design a plus/ extended-size collection?
DW: It is important to recognize that designing plus or extended sizing isn’t something you can just put together over night—it is an investment of both time and money to ensure proper fit and quality. For years, plus size clothing on the market lacks both of these qualities and companies need commit to taking the time to do it right. Women, of any size, can tell when brands prioritize the production and design processes.
MJ: As a woman of color in the industry, why is Black representation and inclusion important?
DW: I think Black representation and inclusion is so important because our communities look to us for motivation and inspiration—we want our voices to be heard so we can speak to our community. Additionally, it is important that brands represent all of their consumers both internally and externally.
MJ: Why is plus-size representation in luxury fashion important?
DW: I believe as a business the goal should be to dress as many women as possible because this, in turn, translates to profit. In America, 60% women are size 14+ so extending into inclusive sizing will naturally grow the business. Aside from the positive financial impact, brands today should make it a priority to be inclusive and represent the women of the world. There is also a misconception that plus size women do not want to spend money on luxury clothes, which is not the case at all. We are Doctors, Lawyers, Entrepreneurs etc. We want to invest in our wardrobe and luxury goods, just like everyone else.
MJ: If you had to give one piece of advice to a young Black creative aspiring to follow in your footsteps, what would it be?
DW: Always go above and beyond. The status quo is never enough. And while others might try to diminish your effort by labeling you an “over achiever”, ignore it, keep working hard.