Currently its being argued that it is the shopping practices of plus size women that affects retailer supply to their customers. I find this
accusation to be ridiculous as you won’t ever hear this same argument within straight size fashion. Nevertheless, retailers and designers stand firm on this stating that their potential customers are just not interested in particular styles or even quality. Could this be true? Do we want good quality plus size fashion?
To answer the first part of my rhetorical question, yes. We do want “good things,” however, one thing that people should keep in mind is that not all plus size women are body positive…yet. Some still suffer from negative body images and ideals so obviously it stands to reason that some women will gravitate towards pieces with more body coverage. I speak from experience since my family constantly made my size a source of shame. I spent most of my adolescence wearing men’s clothing or polo shirts with ill fitting hoodies in hopes that in doing so I wouldn’t be drawing attention to a what my family believed was to be a “temporary situation.” I found that I had to take great care to get their views on my body out of my head so I can love and enjoy my body. It’s a lot of work! It is a highly emotional process, especially if you have been deep in negativity your whole life, so it is not something that will be rectified in a day or two.
Some women are in a place where they will buy and wear bodycon dresses, crop tops and bikinis while some aren’t. Notice I said some women as thinner/straight size women are affected by negative body image issues as well. That said, I do agree with Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista that plus size consumers must be more vocal in what they like and more importantly what they don’t like in order to see a change in this trend; be it via blog/store reviews or even just supporting/ rejecting a collection. For example, the plus size pieces of the Lilly Pulitzer for Target collection completely sold out online, which may (at least I hope) lead to Target to stock plus sizes of their next designer collaboration in store.
And now for the second more heated question. Are plus size women not willing to pay for quality? The short answer is of course they are very willing to pay, but the real answer is a bit more complex in my opinion. Take a minute to think about who it is that can actually afford the prices attached to these “quality items.” Is it the size 16 high school sophomore working part time in order to help support her family, or the size 20 single mother of two trying to make ends meet?* Probably not. Though they can not afford these brands are they not allowed to take part in fashion, not only by having the opportunity to find clothes that they like and fit, but to have quality items that they can afford? And yes, I know a lot of work is needed to get those pieces from the design page and into stores, but “quality” does not need to be so expensive.
In fact, the reason behind why this blog is dedicated to affordable plus size fashion stems from the fact that this is something I’ve had and still have to deal with on a daily basis. (I highly doubt that I am alone.) I grew up in a working class family and even though I hold a Master’s, I still am part of the working class, working 3 part time jobs just to be able to pay the rent. This means that while the designs and quality may in fact be good, I can’t really spend $400 on a leather jacket or $110 for a bathing suit. I am the type of person who gravitates more to style than brands or designers, so the very idea that this practice negatively impacts how retailers cater to the plus size consumer is bogus. I’m not picky, I just know what I want and how far I can realistically spend.
Of course there will be higher end luxury plus size designer brands just as much as there are for straight size. But that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be an affordable quality brand out there for those that want it. And before anyone says that pushing for affordable pieces is a terrible business model, keep in mind that a designer can still make a profit, even more so, with a lower price point. As for designer pieces providing their customers with “true quality”, that is not entirely true either as there are designer pieces that are as poorly constructed as the fast fashion pieces that line the racks at Forever 21 or H&M. Consider the fact that we’ve already been alienated from mainstream brands and retailers by size, do we really need to be alienated by price as well? What does that say about us as a community especially in this day and age?
So let’s not vilify the true victims here–the plus size consumer. After all, not everything is so clear cut.
What do you think? Is it too much to ask for affordable quality?
*I am not suggesting that every plus size woman is in such dire straights such as the examples I presented, I am merely pointing out that the idea that as a plus size woman I have to pay more for quality is ludicrous.
About this series: “My Two Cents” is a personal opinion series dealing with observed industry practices as well as society’s accepted concepts on body/self love and standards of beauty. It is meant to spark discussion on issues which I have deemed in need of addressing. Any ideas for discussion are welcomed and may be made in the comments or via the contact page.
Thanks for reading!