When it comes to the world of plus-size fashion in Britain, it's often independent UK plus-size brands and size-inclusive designers that make the most waves. Where bigger names may be weary of taking certain risks, be it experimenting with silhouettes, hemlines, sleeve lengths, prints, or colours, smaller businesses seem to stay more in-tune with what their actual consumers want to see. For years, countless people of size have been making it known that we want more boldness, more trends, more eclectic and esoteric gems, better price ranges, better size ranges, and simply more of the variety that has long been a staple of the straight-size market. More often than not, it's the indies that listen.
It's the indies that tend to take into account the simple fact that plus-size bodies do not cease to exist at a size 24. It's the indies that realise there are plenty of fat individuals who dream of rocking the hell out of rainbow designs that demand attention. It's the indies that work to expand cultural horizons regarding what "is" or "isn't" acceptable to put on a plus-size figure. It's the indies that often hire the most diverse cast of models, in terms of size, race, gender identity, or abilities. And it's the indies that show legitimate commitment to working with, and for, fat people.
The below brands, all based in the UK, demonstrate a deep understanding not only of the need for more plus-size clothing with which to dress our bodies, but of the value and capacity for empowerment that clothing made specifically for those bodies might have.
Crafted by designer Lois McMillan, Gaudy Grrl skirts are unlike anything available in the sartorial kingdom, let alone anything available to babes of all sizes. Whether you want to plaster your LGBTQ pride on your body, are intrigued by the notion of a reversible skirt, or simply want to wear something beautiful that also has useable pockets, this is the shop for you.
On Gaudy Grrl's "About" page, McMillan notes that she is committed to "having stock suitable for all people and will actively ensure there are no additional charges for changes or alterations needed for certain body types. There is NO FAT TAX here! Plus-size customers pay the same as 'straight' size 8s." She continues: "Same goes for fighting ableism, if you don't want your pockets at the side but prefer them on the front, or would prefer an elasticated waist instead of a zip at the back, just send me an email and we can make you the perfect garment for your body!"
Not only are Gaudy Grrl pieces made-to-measure (to any size or special need), but, by shopping the brand, you'll be supporting a queer woman-owned, ethically-conscious small business dedicated to bringing unapologetic kitsch to literally anyone who wants it. Plus, you might just fulfil your dream of becoming a walking rainbow.
What Lydia Made
Designer Lydia Morrow evokes gentle yet emboldened femininity through her bras, pants, and knitwear creations for What Lydia Made. Often utilising pastel hues, striking colour-blocking, and soft fabrics, these pieces are very literally made for all: all genders, all sizes, and all interested.
What Lydia Made's bras can even be adapted for breastfeeding parents — a seemingly small choice that proves this business' commitment to mindfulness and inclusivity. Given plus-size women and femmes are still so funnelled toward push-up or wired bra styles that offer "lift" or create "lots of cleavage," soft styles like these feel deliciously rule-breaking.
Made in Scotland, Isolated Heroes clothing is sure to tap into the wildest, most no-effs-to-give version of yourself. Sequined bodysuits, see-through dresses, cow-print midis, and faux fur coats are just some of the offerings you'll discover here — all made in a base size range of 8 to 28 and to custom measurements.
Although Playful Promises is not exclusively a plus-size or size-inclusive brand, it is home to the Gabifresh x Playful Promises collections — which always feature stunning pieces of lingerie for plus-size beauties.
Pants are typically available up to a size 30, with bra bands up to a size 44. Many styles even feature mesh, cut-out, and harness details — you know, "sexy" things long denied to fat consumers. The plus-size offerings that Playful Promises does carry (in the Gabifresh lines and otherwise) are stunning to wear and stunning to look at, and may just help some of us claim, or reclaim, our soft sensuality.
There is irrevocable power in choosing to be seen in your plus-size body — in a figure that so much of the dominant narrative still proclaims unworthy of beauty, of fun, or of style. Brands like these help reframe that narrative simply by listening to the people they are dressing, and acting accordingly.