Irene Agbontaen on championing all women

London-based fashion stylist Irene Agbontaen launched her fashion label, Taller Than Your Average, after becoming frustrated at the lack of clothing ranges that catered for women who are 5’9” and taller.

Her line has now been sold in Selfridges, Barneys New York and was the first pioneering tall brand to debut on ASOS.com. As part of our celebrations of International Women’s Day 2017, we caught up with Irene to find out more about how she’s championing women of all shapes and sizes…

Who is one woman you really admire?

Michelle Obama. I have Post-its all over my flat with quotes by her – this one is my favourite: “Stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals.”

What do you do when you need a confidence boost?

I always start my day with 30-minute meditation. The hustle and bustle of being an entrepreneur can have your brain all over the place, so I have to start the day centred, calm and full of positivity. 

When have you been proud of yourself for being bold?

I would have to say the launch of my brand in Selfridges. Tall fashion had such a negative association – it was often seen as uncool and frumpy, and so many people said no to stocking me or had no interest in tall fashion. I was determined to prove them wrong as I knew there were so many girls like me that had been excluded for so long.

The launch at Selfridges broke down so many boundaries, not only because I was the first tall specific brand to be stocked in store but because it made the exclusive inclusive. I will always remember my mum's face on launch day!

It made the exclusive inclusive

Which woman in your life are you most proud of for being bold?

My mum! On a recent trip back to Nigeria I sat with my granddad and heard so many family stories about the civil war.

It was so great to learn my family history, with that I know how strong my mum was to move to London in her mid 20s and leave behind all her family and friends, and the life she knew just because she wanted a better life for herself! It took guts and courage – she’s my super hero!

What one thing would you like to see change in your society to improve gender equality?

More female bosses promoted to senior positions within retail– it's crazy to me that an industry dominated around women is mostly run by men!

Follow us on Instagram to see more of our International Women's Day portraits and let us know which amazing women you're celebrating this week.

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