Allswell With Yesenia Torres
"Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life." —Bill Cunningham
From a very early age Yesenia Torres flipped the script on fashion, using it as her armour. When dressed up, she became invincible. Now, as Director of Design at Eloquii, she gets to arm others; dreaming up beautiful clothing every day for an underserved customer, changing perspective through style, helping women feel invincible and ready to face the world. From her teenage years in Miami to working in the fashion industry in New York,Yesenia shares in conversation below, what led her to commit to a life of helping empower women through clothing and style. And why she can’t imagine it any other way.
On design (What’s your relationship with fashion, clothing?):
“Clothing and style have always been very personal to me. As a teen, I was made fun of for being plus size. It was totally soul crushing at that age, until I decided to make it my strength. I decided I was going to be the best-dressed kid in school, and show people that you actually can look amazing in this body. That being said, this was not an easy task because nothing ever fit me - nothing "cool" at least. I learned so much on styling and proportions because of this. I literally would try on everything in every store until something kind of fit, and then I would go back home with all of my purchases and see how I could style them together in unique ways. Clothes inevitably became my armor. When I got dressed I felt invincible. There is so much power in that.”
On finding your calling (What led you to Eloquii?) :
“When I started my career plus-size fashion wasn’t a "thing.” I always assumed my path would be to gain experience working in straight sizes and then eventually launch my own line. Then Eloquii came on to the scene, and really changed the game. After 12 years of designing straight sizes I was starting to feel uninspired and honestly really frustrated that I couldn't even wear my own designs. I knew Eloquii was where I wanted - and needed - to be. I stalked their careers page for almost three years until my role finally opened. The rest is pretty much history. I could have stayed where I was and even been promoted eventually, but I never would have been fulfilled. It was time to go. I recognize how much clothing has helped my mental health and raise my confidence to see and love myself for who I am. I can’t imagine not bringing that to others; helping other women unlock the beauty they've always had.
One of the greatest rewards is that feeling of changing someone’s life. I don’t think people truly realize that this customer has never been able to walk into a store and buy something fashionable for herself outside of accessories. Traditionally the industry has just said, “no, sorry, you're not deserving. If you want to look good just lose weight.” I can tell you firsthand, that experience has broken a lot of women's confidence. So, this rebuilding phase is beautiful but also the biggest challenge. The challenge is that this customer has always loved fashion but was trained to think it was not for her. We are constantly educating her, while breaking down stigmas about not showing her arms, helping her embrace more fitted items and banish the believe she must wear an all-black uniform.”
What’s it like to change an industry? Can you tell us how Eloquii is leading the way?
“Eloquii is one of the first trend-driven plus brands in the marketplace. At Eloquii we are, unapologetically, fashion first and honestly don’t speak to size when we design. We focus solely on having the best product. We really care about our customers and invest a lot of time in getting to know them personally to understand what they really want to see from us. I can tell you that everyone at Eloquii personally reaches out to customers via email or phone calls all the time. We want Eloquii to be a community more than anything else.”
On where fashion + retail is headed:
“This is such an interesting question. I think the idea of the retail landscape is something that changes everyday. Five years ago analysts said stores were dead and e-commerce was going to be the future of retail. Many brands closed their brick and mortar stores and focused on going digital. Then there was the rise of all the disruptive brands that were founded to address niche markets (particularly around product) that were maybe being ignored. Eloquii started digitally at first but then the team quickly began to discuss opening stores. The reason being this customer has never been able to have the in-store experience.We felt we owed that to her.”
On your anything-but-typical workday:
“There is no typical day for me to be honest. Some days I lock myself in a room all day to work on the next concept and ideas for my team to design into. Other days I’m in hours of fittings, approving sketches then working with the marketing team for upcoming campaigns or collaborations. Most days, I’m running from a brand meeting to a sketch review to a press interview to meeting with product development to to review fabrics and select future prints. In between I pop into our Soho store to try on fit samples and style mannequins ahead of an event. It’s insanely busy, but I love it and consider myself lucky to work with such kind and talented people.”
What keeps you up at night?
“Oh my, so many things... It’s mainly checklist. Personal and professional. Did I respond to an email? Do I have bleach for the cleaning lady? I need to find an idea for a dress in spring... wait, did I confirm dinner plans for date night? When are my parents in town? Shoot , I forgot a birthday...Am I going to yoga this weekend? I mean, it’s a hot mess in my mind.”
What are three items every woman should have in her closet?
I rely on three go-to staples that can help make hundreds of outfits:
-A black leather moto jacket
-The perfect white tee
-A great pair of medium washed rigid jeans
What energizes you?
“This may be silly, but I stalk our XOQ hashtag and seeing real women in Eloquii designs never fails to energize me.”
How do you find your Allswell?
“That’s easy: my home is my sanctuary. I love to come home and burn candles, listen to a lo-fi station on spotify and get in my pj's. I love to cook as well. So some nights I’ll make a gourmet meal and have some champagne, because why not? Other times I’m getting straight into bed after a long day and it’s Triscuits and Netflix until I pass out.”
Do you have any daily rituals you hold?
- I have these positive affirmations I say in bed every morning
- I make my bed every morning before leaving the house
- I listen to a Female Founders or Ted Talk podcast episode once a day
- I try to call a loved one every night on my way home.
Your home style in three words.
What’s your bed like?
Sleek,Comfortable & Minimal
Name three things on your bedside table?
A Diptyque Baies candle, Aesop hand lotion in cedar mandarin & A book of poems called "Milk and Honey"
Favorite sleeping position?
On my side
How many hours a night do you sleep?
Most days 4 to 5
You NYC neighborhood:
Your go-to NYC spot for a drink after a long day:
The back garden at Olmstead or the rooftop at Restoration Hardware in Meat Packing.