Marisa Meltzer’s NYT piece on plus-sized bloggers is so, so great. In addition to highlighting some really awesome women, she reveals a huge HOLE in the fashion industry that someone needs to JUMP ON. Basically: No one makes cool clothes for large people, and “trends can take as long as two years to trickle down to plus-size lines.” One reason Meltzer offers “is that plus-sizes are often considered a transient state, a shameful stop before heading back to smaller sizes,” so “shoppers are conditioned to buy only cheap clothing.”
ASOS and Forever 21 both have plus-sized divisions, but they are alone among national and international brands. Doesn’t it seem like it’d be SMART for established brands to get in the plus-sized fashion business, especially considering BMI trends in this country!?!? IT DOES! EXCEPT: SIZEISM.
I shall share an ANECDOTE: I used to work in a clothing store and our shipments would include dozens of extra smalls and smalls, and just two or three larges and extra-larges. It made me furious, because the the larger sizes would sell immediately, and like, TOTALLY NORMAL SIZED GIRLS would fruitlessly paw through stacks of tween-sized clothes and all I could do was be like, “Um, I’d be happy to order it online for you?” For larger girls, even our largest sizes weren’t made for them. We had nothing that would fit them. Socks? A purse? Sure.
It bugged me that there was this whole segment of women who would have bought our clothes if we just stocked the larger sizes. I asked my boss about it, and she said that all the ordering was done based on algorithms about what sold, blahblahblah. BUT HERE IS MY CONSPIRACY THEORY THAT I ACTUALLY THINK IS TRUE: I think they stocked mostly small sizes because they wanted mostly small people wearing their clothes. I think it’s quite related to designer brands’ practice of destroying past seasons’ unsold clothes instead of donating them. A lower-class woman in a designer dress cheapens the brand, it is said, and as long as sizeism still rules, the brands believe a larger-size woman does the same thing. I think the bloggers Meltzer mentions go a long way in changing perceptions of larger women. New cool brands designing just for them would go even further.