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From shop floor to entrepreneur

TALL ORDER: Irene Agbontaen

A YOUNG woman has launched her own clothing line at the luxury department store where she used to work on the shop floor.

Irene Agbontaen, 28, of south London, created her brand Taller Than Your Average two years after struggling to find clothes that would fit her. Her solution is now a brand that is stocked in Selfridges.

She told The Voice: “I used to travel a lot as a stylist and needed staple pieces I could wear. I have really long legs and arms and found that a lot of places weren’t catering for tall girls. Everything always stopped quarter length on me and because I couldn’t find it, I just made my own.”

Agbontaen, who stands at 5ft 11in, received support from The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme in 2011 and decided to show her collection during the Bread and Butter Trade Show in Berlin. Shortly afterwards, she sent the Selfridges women buyers some photographs and it wasn’t long before she was pitching her brand to them. 

She said: “Being in Selfridges means more than just being in a large department stores. So many friends I’ve met there who all started on the shop floor and have developed. They gave me something and now I’m able to give them something back, so it’s been amazing and incredible.”

TTYA ranges from size six to 16 and is priced between £30-£65 stocked alongside other renowned casual fashion brands such as American Apparel.

She said: “I’m in a luxury department store where tall girls have complete accessibility. There is no discrimination. There is something there for everyone. £65 for a maxi dress is affordable considering that you have to use more fabric when making clothes for taller girls.”

COLLECTION: A model in TTYA clothing

The range is also available online and the website features inspirational interviews, blog posts and features. 

She said: “When you’re growing up you associate being tall with models, but there are normal girls with normal jobs who are tall and that’s what I want to show: that anyone can wear it. The main thing for me was to make it accessible. Being a woman and wanting to feel sexy, I know first hand the frustrations my customers face and I’ve channeled all of that into my collection.”

Just a normal girl from south London who had a dream, Agbontaen hopes to inspire others with her story.

She said: “There have been times when I wanted to give up. If you want something and you’re willing to put the work in then you can achieve it.
“I’m the example, I came from nothing.

“So with hard work, determination and support from friends, once you have those combinations the right equation can set you up and the end result will be priceless.”

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