Well the inevitable has happened –body positivity has gone mainstream. Untouched and unedited ads have garnered so much media attention to the point a straight size brand has “resorted” to featuring plus models in their marketing campaigns to profit of this trend even though these same models don’t fit in the very clothes the brand sells in stores. This particular ad campaign received some backlash on social media, with many people demanding the retailer introduce size inclusive collections that reflect what they currently marketing and of course bringing up the debate as to whether or not plus should be dropped all together as creates unnecessary division. Modcloth immediately comes to mind as a brand that pushed for this as they announced back in 2015 that they would be dropping the “plus size” category on their site. It was a decision that received massive praise across the internet for it implied the idea of shopping by style instead of size. I’ll admit that at first I was ecstatic to hear about this change because I thought this size inclusive shopping experience meant more pieces being available in plus sizes. Sadly that was not the case as there are many pieces up on the site that are only available up to a size 12 if you are lucky. In order to ensure that you are shopping pieces available in plus sizes, you have to refine your search by size which is basically manually re-creating the plus size page they once had. Now I have to give them credit, they conducted an independent survey on their customers to find out more about their needs and wants in terms of fashion. HOWEVER, the very idea that simply dropping the category is being size inclusive is very misguided.
Which leads me to the what initiated this blog post. Lovesick.
It is important to note that when Torrid’s “affordable sister brand” initially launched, back in April of last year, their sizing began at a size 10 which already was entering straight size territory, yet to date there has yet to be any campaigns featuring models over a size 16. For this reason, the decision to announce that the brand now carries size 8 suggests that they have no intention of showcasing pieces on visibly plus bodies. It’s as if they are more interested in the straight size consumer but want to get their cut of the $18 Billion plus size market. Granted the argument could be made that they are working towards the creation of a style and size inclusive brand, however, I question that as they chose to only feature models from the smaller side of plus, all being of similar height and hourglass body type in this recent announcement. If their goal is to encourage size inclusivity then it would have been beneficial to have marketed this new extension by featuring different body types and sizes above size 18.
To be clear, I’m not against a brand extending to straight sizes, I just believe that a plus size brand should always keep their customers first by extending sizes beyond size 18/20 and not drop the plus category just to create brand awareness to a straight size market. I truly believe that in order for a brand to truly be “inclusive” all styles must be available in all sizes. (And hopefully within a reasonable price-point.) Yes, this is a tall order but at the same time it can be done. To date it is the indie designer and their brands that are following a size inclusive design model. Examples include Courtney Noelle that caters to women size 2 to 28, Little Petal, which designs customized geek chic dresses for all women be they tall, petite, straight size or plus and SmartGlamour, who not only promotes body positivity but also provides work wear, party looks and even style staples in all sizes! (This brand is also economically inclusive for those like me on a very small budget as plus size customers are not charged more than straight size consumers.)
Luxury fashion designers and critics even have also joined in on this call for inclusive fashion. Tim Gunn has gone on the record saying that more designers should work as 67% of women are over a size 16. Last year we even had size and body-inclusive runway shows like the one by Christian Siriano during NYFW and the bold decision by the World Fashion Parade to include plus size fashion for the first time in their program with Yona New York and ChubiiLine. The process is slow but hopefully will be successful soon. After all, fashion should be a celebration of diversity and inclusion (in all its forms, be it size or price) will be a great help in tackling fat phobia and media bias that works against visibly plus people.
What do you think? What exactly is fashion inclusivity? Should plus size brands be responsible for creating a size inclusive shopping experience?
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!