Yesterday, I came across a compelling article from Project Runway’s Tim Gunn which shares my personal thoughts on the fashion market. Which are, fashions, more often than not, are ignoring their largest market–“plus-sized women”–to maintain an industry standard that is not reflective of the actual population.
Shopping for plus size clothing in NYC is not only a nightmare but at times it can be degrading, even more so if you’re a bride or bridesmaid. For general clothing, there are very few brand name stores such as Ashley Stewart and Lane Bryant that have limited and often times remote locations. Your best options are to surf through the meager offerings from the plus size racks in other big brand name stores or following beauty bloggers who have already done the leg work for you like, friend, Alissa Wilson of Stylish Curves who I follow for style tips and insight on where to shop. If you’ve ever run into her on NYC streets you’ve seen she, herself, is a fashion shoot waiting to happen.
What fashion needs is a “plus size clothing movement” much like the hair care industry has experienced. Since the natural hair movement has evolved from selling handmade products on the street and at hair expos, we are seeing long-time established brands expand their offerings to include products just for ethnic hair care as well as those “mom & pop” brands break out, gain a foothold in the market, and make a real impact.
Fashion needs that same kind of transformation. We–the consumers–have to decide enough is enough– no more online ordering from big name stores that do not carry our sizes in their brick and mortal locations. No more accepting their excuses that larger sizes don’t sell as well as the smaller ones–because let’s face it 90% of the time they’re sold out online. Have you ever been able to order the plus size clothing from H&M?!
We need indie markets and pop-up shops that cater to and promotes the selling of plus size clothing. We need to create our own spaces in the plus size market by creating our own clothing lines and supporting each other in the development of them so they can become the go-to brands. In time, we can have more brick and mortar locations that carry plus sizes as a standard. We can be in a position to sell our lines in big retail stores under a contract clause that states a larger percent of the clothing will be sold in stores and NOT online.
If we begin to create these changes and support the “indie designers” who go against the system with sizing now, I guarantee we’ll be able to go into a shop in a few years and see full racks of plus-sized jeans instead of just 3 pairs being available in a few larger sizes.
Market trends follow the dollars and if we continue supporting the current standard the markets will keep hiding our clothing in warehouses and backrooms.
So, if you have a plus size clothing line, you know someone who has one or you have a go-to shop that reflects real sizes list them below and help jump-start the “plus size clothing movement.”
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Highlighting the journey of Black women as they create spaces and elevate Black culture.