Plus-size women are officially being shamed for the state of plus-size fashion. People think we don't put our money where our mouths are — that we buy cheap clothing rather than investment pieces, and we're just too picky. Though there is evidence that would point to these statements, there are bigger issues that lead to the discrepancies within the world of plus-size fashion. On Friday, Fashionista published an article questioning whether, at the root of the issue, plus-size women are actually at the problem with plus-size fashion. The article was met with many comments, most of which agreeing that the plus sized consumers were to blame. As a plus sized woman and someone who takes interest in following and reporting on the plus-size community and our market of fashion, some of the comments people were leaving saddened, but did not shock me.
The reality of the situation is that there's still a serious lack of acceptance of plus-size shoppers. Yes, there is certainly more plus inclusion than there was 10 years ago. The body positivity movement has made strides in teaching people that every body is beautiful, but there is still an underlying, overwhelming assumption that all people with larger body frames are unhealthy and unhappy. Sarah Conley of styleitonline.com explained to Fashionista that one brand tested selling clothing online with both a size 8 model and a size 14 model wearing the pieces. Sales from the size 8 model were much greater than sales for the larger model. This proves to me that subconsiously there is a level of brainwashing that we often feel that smaller looks better.
Another major issue addressed in the piece and its resulting comments was the fact that fast fashion is the most prominent kind of fashion that plus-size consumers actually buy. There is a vocal demand for higher-end products, but companies claim that these buyers aren't actually purchasing higher-priced wardrobe pieces. While I agree that people should invest in higher end products that will ultimately last longer, I think there's a general resistance to this within the community because of the history of purchasing plus items. I know, as a consumer, I used to get excited just to find clothes that fit. The fact that they were in style or up-to-par with trends was only an added bonus, and one I didn't get often. When you are raised to immediately purchase the first pair of jeans or shift dress that fits over your body, it's hard to break those habits. Habits do, eventually, die, though. If consumers continue to provide plus-size women with options that fit and are made of quality materials, I see a major change in our future. There are many plus brands that cater to plus-size consumers that provide well-made investment pieces, but I've compiled a few that are getting it right below.
While I do feel that a lot of good points were made regarding the way plus-size consumers shop, I hope that the conversation doesn't stop there. We should identify how to best serve our customers. When there are issues with straight size clothing, designers don't give up. The only reason that designing for straight sizes is easier is because that's the norm. It's how a lot of people were trained, so it feels like second nature. There's no reason why designing and manufacturing for other sizes can't become second nature, too.
Higher-end plus-size brands that get it right:
1. My Star Denim
This brand brings the options of bespoke denim to the plus size market, tailored exactly to your body.
2. Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks brings high-end brands such as ABS and Cinzia Rocca together for an online-only shop that has pricey but classic staples.
Eloquii is on the more affordable side of high-end, but it stocks investment pieces nonetheless. Check out their flawless line of studio midi skirts.
4. Sixth and Lane for Lane Bryant
Sixth and Lane is a line created by Lane Bryant that draws inspiration from runway looks and adapts them to being accessible for plus-size women.
Images: My Star Denim; Saks Fifth Avenue; Eloquii; Lane Bryant