Gemma Collins for Simply Be

Alright, alright so I promised my next post would be about unsuccessful celebrity collaborations with plus size fashion brands but then #AskThicke happened and everything got a bit viral up in Twitter land and I just had to write about it over here in Blogger Relations HQ.  My fingers have barely rested having been going ninety to the dozen on my keyboard for the last hour lol-ing at Robin Thicke and praying I never make a contribution to such an epic PR fail in the future, but I’m back now blogging about these unsuccessful celebrity ambassadors that I speak of.  Call it a bonus post for today…go on, I know you want it.

Ok, ok I’ll stop with the #AskThicke references.  That’s enough for one day.

So, where Beth Ditto and Evans and Gok Wan and Simply Yours succeeded, as I noted in what would have been my previous post, many celebrity and plus size fashion brand collaborations have failed and I think that is largely because of who they have chosen to represent their brand.  The major downfall I see is that the celebrity doesn’t remain loyal to the plus size community and the brand that they are working with.

Take Gemma Collins for example.  She’s at the top of the ranks when it comes to celebrities who say one thing and then do another.  She launched The Gemma Collins Collection back 2012 and to be fair to them, CAN, who I’m assuming were her PR team at the time, manage to secure some great media coverage for the her and they still do to this day.  However from the outset, Collins appeared to not practice what she preached in that before the line launched she was quoted as having said that she had created a line that all sizes could wear but then when it was launched it was only available in sizes 16 to 22.  She had already signed a deal to bring out a line with Simply Be that would see her range become available for a much larger size range however this wasn’t revealed for a few weeks after the first launch by which point she had received quite negative feedback from plus size women and influential fashion bloggers writing about the range, including Lauren of top plus size blog, Pocket Rocket Fashion.  To my knowledge the PR efforts didn’t stretch to include bloggers which I think was a little short sighted of the PR efforts because plus sized bloggers are hugely influential when it comes to plus sized fashion.  This is something that Simply Be really thrive on and they usually utilise plus size fashion bloggers very well, Gemma on the other hand, not so much.

When I first heard that Gemma was creating a fashion line and bringing it out with Simply Be I was so excited because I thought that her style would be very influential in giving those at the higher end of the plus size spectrum, myself included, that Essex charm and confidence to wear glamorous, colourful clothes filled with print and fun.  However where I think the Gemma Collins line for Simply Be went wrong was that when she was promoting the collection, she was all in favour of bigger women and being beautiful but then in separate interviews and in the TV show The Only Way Is Essex, she was constantly seen talking or even crying about how she hated how big she was and was constantly seen the be trying to lose weight.  That may be representative of a lot of plus size women but certainly not all of them and a lot of negative talk Gemma Collins on Twitter and Facebook was about how she was fat shaming, body shaming and making people feel bad about themselves which is surely going to be counterproductive.  Women don’t want to be preached to about plus size fashion and then read about how that figure-head is now fat bashing.  The Ramblings of Mrs BeBe blog writes an open letter to Gemma Collins that pretty much sums up the feeling of many plus size women.

Gemma Collins Boutique Image Source

Gemma Collins Boutique
Image Source

Add this together with rumours that she didn’t design all of the line and you’ve got a recipe for disaster when it comes to having someone represent your brand.  As a company, Simply Be are all about being YOU and being comfortable with whoever that is.  They make such an inclusive size range, from size 12 to 32, to try to avoid women from feeling excluded and as a brand, they’re all about empowering women, not putting them down.  Their whole philosophy is about making women feel and look good regardless of their size and it is something that they usually do very well but ultimately they were unable to control the reality TV show that Gemma features in (check out this great article about how TOWIE put down plus size women here) and they were unable to control what she said in interviews and on social media.  I really think that its a shame that Gemma’s big mouth could have put a dampener on what could have been a very great partnership between her and Simply Be, who sell online not only in the UK but in other European countries and in America.  Gemma is often quoted as saying that she wants to break into the American market and working with Simply Be could have really given her a foot in there.

Another downfall of her line with Simply Be was that she very rarely promoted it on social media whereas she was always promoting her own clothing ventures for the Gemma Collins Collection, including her online store and her retail boutique.  This kind of promotion she does very well including tweets of her favourite pieces, linking her pieces to current events that they could be worn to, or the weather, tweeting photos of herself in her garments and retweeting press coverage and customer photos however I very rarely saw it for the pieces on Simply Be.  It appeared as though she made a conscious effort to drive traffic to her own website where she would have been getting a far larger percentage of profit than if she had driven traffic to the Simply Be website.  Simply Be do not appear to have any new collections from Gemma Collins so I would imagine that they are phasing out her line and not collaborating with her in the future although there hasn’t been a statement released to say whether or not this is true.  However I have looked online to find that Gemma has brought her collection to Very, another home shopping, catalogue style brand and she is doing the same thing with them whereby she isn’t really promoting them on her social networks, she is instead pushing traffic to the same pieces that are listed on her own website via Twitter and Instagram.

Perhaps it was never in her contract with Simply Be or Very to promote the range on social media and therefore she isn’t legally obliged but it seems very silly not to.  The Gemma Collection has actually done really well for Gemma, who scooped the prize of Best Designer at the British Plus Size Awards in 2013 and is set to host the awards ceremony in 2014.  However the vast majority of her range stops at a 24, effectively alienating the rest of the plus size market and gives the impression that there’s fat and then there’s too fat which of course is a load of rubbish.   This doesn’t tend to sit very well with plus size bloggers who, like me, advocate confidence and wearing whatever you like and as a result, she hasn’t been very well received by the plus size blogging community and she isn’t doing much to change that which has resulted in a lack of support and blog posts against her line rather than for it.

I think that Gemma Collins does incredibly well for HERSELF and shes’ a great spokesperson and sales woman for her own brand, I just don’t she represents other brands as well as she does her own.

What are your thoughts?  Let me know in the comments!

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