There are many factors that go into purchasing articles of clothing, such as color, pattern and of course, pricing. Based on a survey by Field Agent, most Americans will buy their clothing based on the best fit. This goes for both men and women. Many more companies are starting to offer lines exclusively tailored to plus size fashion, ranging anywhere from plus size dresses to business casual attire.
With plus size clothing sales of $21.4 billion in 2016, it is obvious that the market for plus size fashion is needed, but are waiting for fashion industries to deliver. Kristine Thompson, who runs a blog called Trendy Curvy which currently hails 150,000 followers on Instagram, says “we have money but nowhere to spend it’, explaining that there are not enough options to choose from when it comes to plus size fashion.
One of the many reasons fashion companies fail to see the need for plus sizing is due to the fact that their resources do not go towards the broad scale of sizes people wear. For instance, a fashion company may have an article sample in a size 2 or 4, because they are able to size that article of clothing to ‘fit’ well on the customer. On the other hand, simply extending the size of the clothing to a 16, for example, without taking into account curves, patterns or not sizing this to a plus size model, will not work in the fashion designers favor. Fashion designers at this point decide it’s a loss of money due to the article of clothing not selling, but it would have sold well if resources were used to properly make the ‘fit’ suitable for plus sized individuals.
Fashion designer Michael Kors also shared why it is important to him and his company to represent plus size models on the runways, meaning that this could help people focus on the fashion and less on the size. “I’ve always dressed a variety of women of all shapes and ages. The diversity of age, size and look of the models on the runway should reflect a heightened version of reality that is representative of the world at large. My job as a designer has always been to design clothes that work for a wide range of women. I think more and more retailers are realizing the importance of this.”
Fashion designer Prabal Gurung states, “The definition of beauty is no longer size two, four or zero. It comes in different sizes. I just saw [the sector] becoming very stigmatized and treated in a very inferior way. It was snickered at. There was nothing positive in the way that it was handled. I just felt it was time. The world was shifting. To not be part of the conversation about diversity and inclusion is just so out of synch, out-of-touch and archaic.” With these fashion designers understanding the need for plus size clothing to become a more realistic part of clothing stores, more stores have begun to follow suit.
JC Penney has recently introduced a new plus size brand called ‘Here I Am’. Promoting the idea that size should not matter. The department store works with people such as fashion blogger GabiFresh and designer Ashley Nell Tipton in promoting the line and sharing body confidence. Tipton won season 14 of fashion program Project Runway. In which JC Penney took the incentive to recruit her into their catalogue. Tipton’s plus size line has been in stores since May. She explains the need for having these lines available to plus size individuals.
“We’re countering a lifetime of learned hatred. Fat girls can do whatever they want. I thought I couldn’t wear a bikini and I can, and I love it,” explains Tipton, that she finds it amazing she can support and help girls change their minds about body positivity and become more confident in their clothing and within themselves.
JC Penney CEO Marvin Ellison explains that the store has always had a spot for big and tall men, and that the need for plus-size women’s clothing was crucial. His idea was to also take advantage of private label brands as well, seeing that they bring in more revenue and also give the customers more options for finding the perfect plus size fit. With plus size fashion becoming more competitive with rivals such as Target, JC Penney has done well to push body positivity in their clothing lines by using body positive activists and stylists to push the agenda.
Athleta is a clothing company that specializes in workout and fitness clothing. Such as spandex tops and bottoms and performance footwear. Activewear clothing has been a huge marketing industry bringing in at least $30 billion that continues to grow, and when you have 28% of plus size women wanting to buy, and only 17% actually purchasing plus size fitness wear. Maybe it’s time to make plus size fitness wear more accessible and durable. Athleta did just that, but recently got backlash for promoting plus size clothing. By showing them on petite models. To make matters worse, there were no plus size models shown on the site regardless.
Athleta released a statement explaining what was to happen next after the model mishap. “This is a place where we can do better. The positive portrayal of women in the media is very important to us. We celebrate women of all body shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and ages across our stores, website, campaigns, and social media channels. The Power of She campaign is what we really stand for. It’s really important for us to acknowledge the strength, health, and beauty all women have. This is something we’ve been looking at and working fervently to solve.”
Unfortunately today, you can still see on Athleta’s page that the banner shows a plus size model, but the actual clothing being sold is still shown on smaller models. Athleta also has a campaign called ‘The Power of She’ that promotes the stories of powerful women in everyday life.
Fabletics is an online retail company that sells stylish athletic clothing. You may have seen the commercials or online ads that show Kate Hudson promoting activewear. They understand the need for including models in fashion that show off different shapes and sizes to represent their customer base as a whole.
The company works with plus size models Hunter McGrady and Ashley Graham who were models in the 2017 “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue” which helps drive the force in focusing on plus size clothing. Fabletics understands that the median size for women in the United States is a size 16. So it’s best to start advertising for the masses.
Fabletics not only supports and provides plus size clothing up to 3X, but they also understand how plus size clothing works. They offer many different clothing that have wide and adjustable straps while also adding fabric to bras to give added support where women need it. Kate Hudson explains when she cofounded the company in 2013, that her goal was to empower women. “When I started Fabletics, my goal was, and still is, to empower women and design with every woman in mind, because everyone – regardless of size, shape, age or ability – deserves to look incredible, be inspired and feel their absolute best.” Hudson’s main mission for the company was to provide women clothing that could enhance their journey to living a healthy and active lifestyle.
Another famous collaborator is Demi Lovato. Which Fabletics wanted her to be a partner in the company’s line due to her story with body positivity. Lovato has spoken out about her body and is the perfect activist for Fabletics. While her clothes provide comfort and a sense of confidence. They are offered in various colors and patterns to suit the person wearing them. Fabletics also has an alliance with Girl Up which is a campaign in the United Nations to help inspire and encourage girls all around the world.
What’s the problem?
The uniformity in the fashion industry. It has always been this way. Fashion designers design clothes for size 2 and 4, and even fashion schools teach their students to do this as well. At Syracuse University, fashion professors were questioning what they teach when plus sized model Emme challenged everyone to design clothing for a variety of shapes and sizes, not just the standard. Jeffrey Mayer, Syracuse University associate professor of fashion, said “When Emme came to us, we thought…Why isn’t this just a norm?” Syracuse decided to change the way they taught fashion by focusing on the idea that the best design would be one that would look just as great on a size 2 as it would on a size 22.
A documentary called “Straight/Curve” works to show how much damage the fashion industry can cause. And how 90% of women and girls often feel they are misrepresented through the media. The documentary talks about how Parsons school of design does not offer classes that would teach a student how to make clothes for any size larger than a 6. One thing is for certain, if schools do not start teaching students how to make clothing for every body shape. Then the fashion industry will stay in the state it’s in, with clothes made for smaller, petite women.
More brick and mortar stores are offering plus size clothing, and it’s amazing.
Macy’s has really put forth the effort in promoting plus size clothing and people are really happy about it. Unlike some other online shopping ads, Macy’s uses plus size models to advertise their plus size clothing. Macy’s has top designer such as Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Calvin Klein. Which means fashion plus size clothes are easy and accessible to find. Mari Denee who is a size 16/18, reviews a Macy’s in Atlanta that “It was the best representation of plus-size fashion in a department store, taking up half the floor.” Some Macy’s even have signs directing you to the plus size clothing and that is a really good perk.
Lord and Taylor’s
Lord and Taylor’s provides a wide selection of plus size clothing, especially in their active wear. They use a few plus size models on their website. And use words such as special sizing when describing plus size. Lord and Taylor’s also shows a wide selection of plus size business casual clothing.
Bloomingdale offers a few selections of high fashion plus size clothing from designers such as Eileen Fisher and Basler. Bloomingdale’s offers a wide selection of stylish plus size dresses and uses plus size models to advertise their dresses. They also have a luxury plus size line available named Marina Rinaldi that is currently on sale.
T.J. Maxx and Marshalls
While these stores do not offer many choices for plus size clothing. They offer quite a few options for the basics. They have a pretty good selection of leggings, jeans, and sweaters available in plus size. And hopefully, people will see a bigger selection in the future.
With plus size teens making up 34% of the purchasing power in 2015. It is no wonder that Forever 21 is a up-and-coming plus size clothing store. An L.A. blogger, Nicolette Mason size 14, had a more than pleasant visit at Forever 21. Saying “The plus-sizes are located at the entrance of the store. There’s proper signage, loads of mannequins, and new pieces that aren’t even online yet. It’s the mecca of plus-sizes.”
While these few stores are making a difference. The need for more plus size clothing options is definitely needed. More fashion designers are seeing what kind of impact their clothes can make to plus size individuals and realize that sales will most likely increase as well.