As someone who hovers between a size 12-16 I don’t feel fully confident in describing myself as “plus size” – however with the stock available from many well known retailers simply not offering accurate or consistent sizing, I’m cast out of the “standard” sizing market too. I know I’m not the only one – it seems that weekly I see tweets from people frustrated by high street sizing and its many baffling fluctuations in whats regular and what’s plus.
How can it be that I’m a size 8 and a size 16 in 2 different H&M jumpers?
How can it be, quite separately, that beautiful goddess Kate Upton (pictured) is also considered a plus size model?
There’s no doubt about the success of “plus size” stores, even if the theory behind them is a little dated – i.e that bigger women should be excluded from “normal” shopping. Really, shouldn’t we just cater for all sizes? That’s a whole other bee in a whole other bonnet, though.
I was recently reading a pretty old article suggesting that the plus size market has had an unprecedented growth in demand in the past few years. Sure, you might say that it just means our nation is getting bigger (maybe it is) but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
I’m talking about why its so hard for someone like me (what I’d consider average size) to buy a well fitting item on the high street or from a well known online retailer without going to a specialist shop (where the items are usually far too big for me, anyway), despite proof that the plus size market is one of the most rapidly expanding (lol) areas of fashion?
I was recently talking to the girls from one relatively new online retailer who have enjoyed great success during 2014, but have been unable to offer a wider size range than 8-14 (S-XL) at present. They described it just being about cost – its expensive for retailers to source & carry plus size, and its expensive for new designers to get their products made in “non-standard” sizing.
The sensible move is to stock “regular” sizing and alienate a growing market until you can afford to cater for them – or stock it to begin with and face being labelled a Plus Size retailer – something which apparently is the retail equivalent of social suicide – unless we’re talking lingerie (I’m not going to start getting all feminist, but note its OK to be fat if we’re talking about bust…)
If you do the former, you’re written off by the plus size market (Missguided and BooHoo are prime examples until lately).
One of the other downsides to the cost issue is that new designers are being forced to source their product from overseas, which isn’t such a big deal except that the sizing varies massively – and the bigger you want them, the harder they are to source and the more expensive they are to produce.
‘True to size’ is a dream these days – but when you’re on the upper end of the standard size spectrum, its a dream that can’t be fulfilled by a simple exchange.
It’s easy to sit and blame retailers for writing off us fatties and big busted, big boned, big bottomed girls – but really, it comes down to money. While huge chains like Topshop may stop at smaller sizes because fashion simply requires them to write off us big ‘uns, smaller retailers like my friends at WearEponymous are desperate to expand their size range and bring all of us beautiful ladies together in some killer designs, but just have to bide their time and mind their bottom line until its financially possible.
There may be media hype about how disgusting you are if you’re size 12+ (fuelled almost entirely by body shame artists like Katie Hopkins) but lets be honest here – there are big women and men, and they all wear clothes.
There are mums with beautiful post-baby souvenir bodies, there are big babes who are blessed with beautiful curves, we have tall amazonian princesses and wide, warm women – and everything in-between – and that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with slim or skinny women either. If you’re still plodding along, your body is a good body, no matter how big or small it is.
No amount of tabloid bile will (or should) change the shape and size of our ladies.
So… why is it that our fashion industry is so skewed when we have great retailers wanting to provide more?
Why does whats in your wardrobe always have to be a discussion about your health and NHS strain?
Why is that anyone’s business but your own and your GP’s?
By the way… I don’t have the answers… I just hate not knowing what size to order.