Does high fashion have a plus size problem?
These days, the facts and figures that surround the plus size market are commonplace but to get our point across we’ll hit you with some anyway.
In 2016, the plus size fashion industry was worth around $21.4 billion – this represented a growth of around 6% in the number of women above a size 14. Despite this, 37% of plus size women continue to wear men’s clothing to workout, and a staggering 65% agree that their size is still ignored by the fashion industry.
Inclusivity doesn’t necessarily mean equality
It’s no secret that more and more brands are adding to their collections with plus size clothing but this type of inclusivity doesn’t necessarilymean that there’s total equality quite just yet.
Plus size models such as Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence may be spending more time in the public spotlight, but major fashion houses are still failing to diversify the models that they put down the runway. For years, designers have been criticised for their promotion of ‘unattainable figures’. At first, it was models so thin that they cast light on eating disorders, and then young, pubescent teens.
Luxury brands are the trendsetters so if industry change is on the horizon, even the world’s biggest designers will need to be on board. As soon as fashion houses start to introduce plus sizes into their ranges, there’s no doubt that it will begin to trickle down into the mass market.
Of course, there are some luxury brands that cater to plus sizes - Prabal Gurung and Christian Siriano have both proven to be pioneers. However, a lot of retailers either fail to stock extended sizes or fail to promote their plus sizes enough.
Certain issues still need to be discussed
Plus size women may be moving ever closer toward complete social acceptance, but there continues to be a number of issues surrounding the industry that need to be addressed. Take the idea of swimsuits, for example. A quick Google search of ‘plus size swimwear’ may bring up plenty of retro high-waisted two pieces but how many low-rise bikinis are on offer?
It’s often a rarity of options for plus size ladies who are taller or shorter than the average. Heading to the ‘curve’ section of a brand will often mean you need to improvise when it comes to your height. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that fashion schools fail to teach budding designers how to cut and drape for any model that’s any bigger than the typical 4-6.
Another issue is that high-street retailers that do stock plus size clothing will slip up on their visual merchandising, choosing to almost banish their extended sizes to a corner of the store away from their ‘regular’ range. When you arrive there, you’ll probably see no more than a few rails with a basic assortment of trends leaving you feeling left out and deflated. The same goes for shopping online, although sites such as Ashleigh Plus Size make it easier for the curvier ladies out there to find outfits that aren’t only the right size, but right on trend.