Fashion made for plus-size or larger women are often viewed as an afterthought – never executed with intention. Fashion To Figure, a plus-size brand, recently spoke to The Business of Fashion, explaining that when they first launched their label, they were shocked at the lack of competition. It has been reported that women are now, on average, about 11 kilograms heavier than they were 50 years ago, so aren’t fashion brands losing out in a big way by not including bigger numbers?
There has long been an arguably narrow-minded way in which fashion houses have viewed larger women. There has always been a natural tendency for people to categorize, e.g. models that are tall, slim and slender qualify as ‘models’; those over and above this formula are referred to as ‘plus-size’ or ‘real women’. We used to think of plus-size as size 16, maybe even 18 and up.
In recent years, a noticeable effort has been made to ensure plus-size models are viewed as desirable , by the fashion industry, one example being beautiful size 12 model Robyn Lawley who has fronted several campaigns. Yet, when you label models like Lawley or newly discovered ‘it’ model Leah Kelley ‘plus-size’ (especially via Twitter) you risk offending your fellow sisterhood.
On The Business of Fashion, Michael Kaplan writes: ‘Why would anyone ignore this market when women like Adele, Rebel Wilson, Oprah, Queen Latifah, Octavia Spencer, Melissa McCarthy and Christina Hendricks, to name just a few, are massive influencers of consumers and encouraging plus-size women to be fashionable?’
When it comes to the glamorous world of fashion, the ‘larger’ woman is still seen as inferior to the ‘skinny’ woman. Designers feel that curves don’t look good in their designs or, perhaps, that they don’t deserve to. Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO, Mike Jeffries, notoriously came under fire earlier this year for his refusal to include plus-size labels in their collections, preferring the cool, pretty crowd to represent the brand.
So when will plus-size – coupled with a healthy lifestyle – finally be perceived as beautiful and cool? Skinny, curvy or overweight, we are all women who require suitable clothing at the end of the day. There is more than one type of women out there, so the lack of plus-size fashion is inexcusable and socially backwards. We hope to see more fabulous campaigns featuring plus-size models in the near future and fashion houses taken a step forward in celebrating women’s curves.