Meet Ember and S: Athletic clothing for big-bodied kids

pI am Luke’s daughter Margot loves to dance. But as he shopped for leotards and leggings for Margot, a larger-bodied baby, Luke felt a familiar anger and sadness inside him. As a formerly plus-size kid, Luke had trouble finding soccer gear and had to shop in the grown-up men’s department when he was a teenager in the ’80s.

“I was very disappointed, [thinking]how was that still an issue for me 30 years later?” reflects Luke. “So I said, OK, this needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed now.”

In 2021, Luke left the world of tech product management behind to launch a new line of athletic apparel specifically for plus size kids. She thought about the way she wanted it to make these kids feel and landed on the word “hugs,” which became the brand name Amber & Ace.

A study found that one of the reasons kids quit sports is because their uniforms and athletic gear no longer fit them. One of Ember & Ace’s goals is to enable kids to run, jump, and dance with ease, regardless of their body size, as it “directly dispels the misconception that larger-bodied people aren’t active.”

But Luke also wants to send the message that sport and movement are for everyone. Luke says when he was growing up, he felt like he didn’t belong on the football field because he couldn’t find football clothes that fit him. Today, she says Margot’s dance studio is inclusive and thoughtful of body types, but “do I belong” or “is this for me?” Reappears if the clothing required to perform the activity does not exist.

“I want these kids to understand that they can show up in their bodies and that they belong in these spaces,” Luke said.

A larger-bodied child leaps in the air in a ballet move.
Photo: Amber & S

Nike, Land’s End and other brands now sell kids’ activewear in larger sizes, and Luke says the level of land is better than it was when he was younger. However, she found that most of these brands don’t go in large enough sizes, which is still not an option for many kids.

The extra length can also be a problem with XL fit and adult clothing. Making clothes for older kids isn’t as simple as just going up a standard size—the proportions are wrong, Luke says. For example, leggings or pants need room at the waist, hips and legs, but also taper at the ankles. Waistbands should be higher, while shirts and jackets should be shorter.

“When you have something that doesn’t roll up and show your belly, or with pants that don’t roll down, you feel more confident and comfortable,” says Luke.

Ember & Ace provides an easy-to-understand fit chart so kids can find their size. Eschewing the traditional (and stigmatizing) “XL” sizing convention, the Ember and Ace range in sizes 0 to 4. Ditching the “X” was a conscious decision that helped Luke focus on how children’s clothes actually fit, and not their size. .

After a successful Kickstarter campaign this summer, Ember & Ace is currently beginning its first production run, and the “Essential Line” featuring a T-shirt, leggings, joggers, athletic shorts, and a hooded jacket will be available next year. Luke is looking forward to getting feedback from parents and kids on how he can create clothing that truly serves them. And in the meantime, he hopes the existence of Ember&S sends a message.

“All bodies are good bodies,” says Luke. “Keep doing the things you love. Keep dancing, keep playing sports, because you’ve been there and you can do it. I have faith in you.”

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