Taller Than Your Average - Christmas Capsule Collection
Irene Agbontaen is the power-house and creative genius behind Taller Than Your Average (TTYA). After struggling to find stylish basics she wanted to wear as a taller woman, Irene founded TTYA in 2013 and designed her own. Her collections are made up of modern, functional pieces that are specifically cut for women who are 5’9” or taller. We caught up with Irene to chat about her new Christmas Capsule Collection fronted by model & activist Naomi Shimada.
"Don't be afraid to fail."
Irene Agbontaen, TTYA
What’s your design process, how did you go about putting together the Christmas Capsule collection?
Standing at 5’11’’ myself the design process is pretty straight forward. I ask, ‘What are the wardrobe essentials that I’m missing?’ and I go from there really. When I launched the brand back in 2013 at Selfridges, my ethos was to make clothes that made women feel style conscious not self-conscious. With the Christmas Capsule Collection I wanted to give the glamour tall girl a chance to shine. The Satin Black Maxi is a favourite of mine, it’s super flexible - I can wear it dressed up with heels or layered over a t-shirt and some sneakers!
Naomi is such a brilliant woman to have front the campaign - she’s the ultimate TTYA woman. Can you tell us about your collaboration for this collection?
Naomi carries this magnetic energy. Her personality is bright, confident and unapologetic - all attributes I hope to embody! I’ve known her for many years and I have watched her be an advocate for women who don’t fit inside the stereotypical ‘norm’. She didn’t need much directing, the shoot just flowed. It’s amazing when you see your ideas come to life on real women!
Do you see the tired and old beauty norms changing or do you think there’s still a lot of work to do?
I think we have definitely come a long way. You only have to look at the high street to see that the stores are trying to cater for every type of woman whether it be petite, tall, curvy—everyone is trying to capitalise. TTYA was one of the first brands to launch in the tall category on ASOS and my collection sold out in a week. This lead the way for more tall specific brands to launch, now tall is one of the biggest growing areas on ASOS. However, I still think there is still a way to go - it would be great if brands actually took the time to understand the girl they are trying to reach.
TTYA has been going for three years now and you’ve had phenomenal success, what has been the most important things you’ve learned since launching?
It’s crazy! To think it was just a side project I started in my bedroom! The most important things I’ve learned to be honest are:
1. Believe in your idea—no one else will if you don’t!
2. Everything is negotiable—cost prices, margins, EVERYTHING!!
3. Don’t be afraid to fail—I learn something new everyday!
What’s up for 2017?
I’m looking at collaborations for next year! I also started #TTYATalks back in 2015 and now have a residency with Soho House Group. TTYA Talks invites inspirational, pioneering women to share their stories and provides a relatable platform for women to connect with each other. I'm looking forward to taking this on tour 2017!!
Photography Mehdi Lacoste
Styling/ Creative - Irene Agbontaen
Make Up - Jessie Owen
Hair - Ellen Pebbles
Set Design - Suzannah Pettigrew