What is plus size and why can’t the fashion industry handle it properly?
This is an area of debate right now and some people are clearly struggling with it. They know that plus size is popular and a hot topic of discussion and they want to participate and comment on the plus size market. But what is “Plus Size”, what does it mean and how do we see it?
The words “Plus Size” are used to refer to clothing for taller people, there is a huge debate around what is considered tall, where does it all start? Size, 10, 12, 14 or 16?. The debate then also becomes associated with health problems, because many people consider that taller people are automatically in poor health (this is not true). The fashion industry is all about how people look and taller people are not on the mainstream fashion radar. This is unfortunate because many people are taller than the models generally used by the fashion industry (so they are expected to buy clothes modeled on thinner women). It is interesting to note that the fashion industry is associated with thinness which itself can also lead to health problems. It seems that people (tall and thin) slightly outside the ‘norm’ are perceived and treated differently, although it is worth noting that in some circumstances both are perceived as ‘unhealthy’
However, these perceptions are being challenged somewhat because people are getting fatter and what was once considered “plus size” is now much more common than before. Dress sizes got larger over the years, but remained labeled as “Vanity Sizing” to make customers feel good about themselves. Generally, fashion markets are driven by designers who create trends. Their work is an art form and is presented artistically. High street ready-to-wear is inspired by these trends, although you also have designers setting their own trends for their market.
Ready-to-wear is worn by much wider age and size groups than seen on Couture runways, and many trends seen on the catwalks don’t necessarily translate well to the mainstream market. So, although the “Plus Size” market is not popular in the “media”, it represents a good part of the people who buy clothes.
The term “Plus Size” is commonly used in the US but is less common here in the UK. It’s a common search term on Google, but it’s not really used very much here in the UK. The media doesn’t really know how to handle this and it was never clearer when we saw the June 2011 cover of Vogue Italia. It features 3 beautiful women photographed in lingerie. These women are plus size models and while it’s wonderful that Vogue featured them on their cover, it’s a shame they found it necessary to photograph the women half naked and with one of them posed somewhat inappropriately.
Editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani launched Vogue Curvy in February and the June 2011 Cover of Vogue Italia was intended to help promote Vogue’s newfound affinity with plus-size women. It’s great that Sozzani has launched a Vogue Curvy, does this mainstream fashion recognize that there are a lot of women who are curvy or plus size and demand that their fashion needs and desires be catered for ? On an equally positive note, Sozzani also campaigns against websites that actively promote the anorexia that the fashion industry has been accused of encouraging in the past. Congratulations to her for taking an active position on this issue. In time, fashion media may focus on fashion rather than the size of the individual wearing it. After all, everyone has the potential to look stylish and beautiful, regardless of height.
“The Cut” blog also ran an article “No one seems to know what a plus size model really is” and they featured some quotes from Madeline Figueroa-Jones, editor of Plus Model magazine. Interestingly, “The Cut” featured a photograph of one of the covers of Plus Model Magazine and of all the covers they could have chosen, they chose a cover with models wearing lingerie and posing provocatively. Plus Model Magazine has lots of covers showing taller women wearing nice clothes. So it was a shame that these two popular websites chose to depreciate plus-size women somewhat by showing them in skimpy (albeit well-photographed) lingerie.
Vogue and The Cut could have chosen photographs showing tall women wearing beautiful clothes and illustrating that taller women can be as fabulous as other women and that fashion should be about fashion, not body size . Designers might also look at the world slightly differently and if they were brave, they might see curvy women as giving them the opportunity to design clothes that flatter curves and allowing them to make a different and new fashion statement. At Vida Moda, we believe that curves are necessary to wear clothes well! It’s part of our mission to find beautiful clothes for taller women that will flatter them and make them feel and look amazing.
Vogue Italia June 2011 cover image courtesy of The NewsFeed and Vogue Italia
Designer Fashion Size 16 to 24 From Vida Moda Stylish European Plus Size Designer Clothing Collections for Ladies Browse our online store for curvy women’s clothing.