Women, no matter their shape or size, yearn to look the best they can be in the clothes they purchase. With the average size in the US being a size 16 we would hope that the fashion industry would take notice of the new normal and cater towards the majority. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. We, as consumers, have taken notice that a lot of high fashion designers don’t take their designs past a size 12 which leaves most women with the “what if they had my size” feeling.
Fashion icon Tim Gunn has been privy to this fact for many years and finally voiced his concerns in an open letter in the Washington Post on September 9th. He wrote “When I was chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne Inc., I spent a good amount of time on the road hosting fashion shows to highlight our brands. Our team made a point of retaining models of various sizes, shapes and ages, because one of the missions of the shows was to educate audiences about how they could look their best. At a Q&A after one event in Nashville in 2010, a woman stood up, took off her jacket and said, with touching candor: “Tim, look at me. I’m a box on top, a big, square box. How can I dress this shape and not look like a fullback?” It was a question I’d heard over and over during the tour: Women who were larger than a size 12 always wanted to know, How can I look good, and why do designers ignore me?” He also adds,
“There are 100 million plus-size women in America, and, for the past three years, they have increased their spending on clothes faster than their straight-size counterparts. There is money to be made here ($20.4 billion, up 17 percent from 2013). But many designers — dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or simply too cowardly to take a risk — still refuse to make clothes for them,” he wrote. While things have changed slightly, we still have a ways to go. Let’s talk about why high fashion designers don’t make clothes for the 100 million plus sized women”.
With over 20 billion made in a year, you would think that mainstream designers would cater to the average sized woman with a variation of looks. Although disconcerting this has now made way for less known designers and celebrities to break down walls in this industry. Plus size women now have a multitude of choices from undergarments (models Toccara Jones & Ashley Graham recently launched their collections) to work wear. Nene Leakes is one of the most recent celebrity designers whose clothing line goes up to a size 26. Eva Mendes’ line with New York & Company makes designs up to a size 20.
With the launch of social media becoming prevalent in our everyday lives women now have phenomenal plus size bloggers that show them being above size 12 doesn’t mean their options are limited. Bloggers such as Chastity Garner of Garner Style, Ty Alexander of Gorgeous in Grey and Gabi of Gabi Fresh has been featured in the New York Times, Elle, Vogue Italia, Teen Vogue, InStyle and Time. Women like Chastity Ty and Gabi bring to light the minimal options that many women face while highlighting the brands that cater to the new majority.
Lane Bryant has collaborated with designers such as Isabel Toledo and Lela Rose. With partnerships such as these, it sheds the taboo of fashion houses shying away from plus size designs.
While no one can answer the question of why high fashion designers haven’t jumped on board with making clothes to fit the average woman we can give kudos and support the designers and companies that have taken notice and taken action. Navabi is a website solely catered to Plus Size Fashion. Designers such as Monif C., Ashley Graham, YOONA, Carmakoma, Zhenzi, JIBRI, Torrid have given women what they need the most –VARIETY! We thank them for filling the void. EGL Fashion would love to hear some of your favorite brands that carry sizes 12 and up!
Written by: Crystal Stoute of HerNameisCrystal.com