Eight years ago, Tammy Demchuk remembers being on the treadmill at a women’s gym and her eyes fixed on the woman ahead, her bright purple leggings with a mesh stripe and matching, figure-fitting T-shirt.
Demchuk looked down at her own workout clothes: a plain, off-white T-shirt of her husband’s and baggy black sweatpants.
“I thought, ‘Why do I have to wear this just because I’m plus size? I want workout clothes like hers,” Demchuk said.
She said the problem was that plus-size activewear wasn’t a thing. The little that existed often adopted floral patterns and palettes favoured by seniors, size was limited, quality was poor and it was nearly impossible to find locally.
“For so many years, we were treated like we didn’t exercise, so they didn’t make plus-size clothing that was functional and pretty for us,” she added.
Seven years later, after a shoulder injury forced Demchuk to leave her hairdressing career, that moment in the gym came back to her. She has a skill and passion for sewing so she sought the support of the Self-employment Services at Community Futures North Okanagan. Early on, she thought of a name for her idea: Curvy Fit Girl Fashions.
“Plus-size women want to look as beautiful as other women and feel good about what they’re wearing and the body they’re in,” said Demchuk. “If you feel good about how you look on the outside, it helps you feel confident about who you are on the inside.”
Curvy Fit Girl Fashions, launched in 2017 and offers both new and up-cycled one-of-a-kind fitness wear clothing designed and sewn by Demchuk for sizes 8-24.
Her bright and eclectic styles, along with a new toddler line, can be found at pop-up boutiques in health and wellness fairs, at the Vernon Farmers’ Market, local stores such as Pink Spotted Goat and online. She said that even now that major plus-size clothing brands are starting to make activewear — though sizes, selection and quality are limited — many women are surprised that Curvy Fit actually fits.
“It was really eye-opening. Curvy women would just pass by my stall assuming it still wasn’t really for them and I wouldn’t have their size because you get so used to stores not including you. Then they’d say, ‘Oh, someone is making clothing for me’ and they’d be so excited,” she said.
Demchuk still has to encourage some customers to try the bolder styles, but after sliding a top off the rack, pulling it over her head and letting it fall past her shoulders, she said a transformation happens in the mirror.
“You can see them smile and stand a little taller,” she added. “I’m giving them what they really want, what they dream of wearing, not just settling for the only thing they could find.”
Demchuk ensures Curvy Fit clothes are also functional with four-way stretch cotton spandex or poly spandex designed for breathability during fitness activities. And she’s committed to ensuring her fashions are affordable, despite the time involved with designing and sewing by hand, often using remnants of previously loved pieces. Most pieces range from $35- $65.
“I just want my clothing to be accessible to everybody. I live in the real world and I think we all deserve to have beautiful, functional clothing that lasts and lets us enjoy the activities we love,” she concluded.
To report a typo, email: