WHAT IS THE FITTING ROOM ALL ABOUT?
We are about providing fabulous fitting bras and swimwear for women of all ages, shapes and sizes. Our aim is that every woman who comes into our store or shops with us online will experience our friendly, expert fitting service and feel absolutely wonderful. The Fitting Room specialises in fuller cup sizes (C-K), and prostheses, bras and swimwear for women who have had mastectomy surgery. We aim to have the best range of products we can find internationally. We stock mainly English and European brands which specialise in our size range, including Fantasie, Panache, Anita, Amoena, Freya, Elomi, Empreinte and Ulla.
The Fitting Room began life in 2005 as 'U' (the Maori word for 'breast'). It was started by Suzanne Pitama, a Clinical Psychologist recently moved to Christchurch, who had a lot of difficulty finding bras in her correct size, and who realised there was a significant gap in the market, for bras and for proper fittings. She went to a lingerie trade show in Harrogate, England, to find the best international brands specialising in fuller cup sizes. Suz and her friend Rona (a librarian in her other life) started fittings by appointment-only, in evenings and weekends, around their other full-time work. Their premises was a tiny shop, 8 x 3m down the St Albans end of Colombo St. Suz and Rona set the foundation for the expert fitting and excellent service that is The Fitting Room's trademark. Suz's instinct was proved right, and 'U' started getting way too busy for her and Rona to run part-time.
Anna Stevenson and Deborah Lewthwaite entered the picture in early 2007. Anna had recently had mastectomy surgery for breast cancer, and had found a dearth of pretty bras and range of prostheses in Christchurch. Deborah was working as a social worker, and looking to try something new. Suzanna Pitama was keen to hand over 'U' to people who would respect her vision and ethos, and take it on into the future. So Anna and Deborah (sisters-in-law), bought the small business with their husbands, and called it 'U Fit In'. Deborah carried on the family tradition of corsetiere! Deborah's Grandmother, Mrs Olive Barton was a corsetiere at McGrewer's in Wanganui back in the late 1930s. She is in the photo below, kneeling at the front. This is taken at her fitting training course in Auckland in 1939.
U Fit In kept the focus on fitting, and fuller cup sizes, and also added a specialty range of breast prostheses and pocketed bras, after completing post-surgery fitting training in Auckland. U Fit In didn't stay tiny for long. In September 2008, the shop moved to new premises on the corner of Fendalton and Clyde Roads, and was exposed to a whole new customer base. By that time, the shop employed 8 staff, mostly part time fitters, and an administrator.
After moving to Anna's home in Riccarton following the September 2010 earthquake, U Fit In received some Recovery Canterbury funding for marketing help. It was a great time to look at our brand, and consider how to move forward despite challenging conditions, and open our shop up to a whole new group of women. We made the decision to rename the shop 'The Fitting Room', which we think expresses even more than 'U Fit In', the expert service and individual attention we give to all our customers.
Following the earthquake, the owners of The Fitting Room bought the corner site, and Deborah's husband Justin Stevenson (co-owner) project-managed the design process through to resource consent, before on-selling the site. It was a challenging task, and we are proud of the outcome. In February 2013 The Fitting Room moved back to the rebuilt premises on Fendalton Rd, where we have four large fitting rooms, and a beautiful space to work and fit.