James Rātana is on a mission to create the best clothing brand in New Zealand. Forward Pack, born out of a movement, is challenging popular streetwear labels and mainstream market ideals of acceptable clothing sizes are on a large scale.
Forward Pack, named after rugby forwards. Ratana wants to tackle market ideals that only people smaller than 2XL can wear fashionable clothing.
“We make our designs and we go up to a really big size and we go down to a small size so we're just trying to create something where people that are large have a place to come in and wear clothes.”
What started as an online movement with over 1000 followers is now a fashion label born out of what James calls an unfair situation regarding sizing in mainstream streetwear.
“The original plan was that I would approach some big labels and say hey would you mind making some bigger sizes say up to 7XL. We approached RPM, Lower, Huffer, and Adidas and Nike. For one reason or another, we got a no. So from that, I was like I'll go out and do it myself.”
According to statistics on the Ministry of Health website, almost one in three adults in NZ aged 15 years and over are obese. Ratana says the market for large customers is huge, but they are often left off the rack.
“Coming into a place like this, you know that there's nothing for you in there so if you're walking in there you already know that 9 times out of 10 you're coming out of there with nothing and it is hoha and embarrassing.”
James hopes his brand will be a leading example for popular NZ clothing brands to make larger clothing sizes socially acceptable.
“It's not up to a brand to say no a 2XL is what looks good. Whatever stage you are and what ever size you are, you deserve the right to wear something that looks good.”