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Plus-Size Scrutiny


Jun. 26 2018, Published 9:17 p.m. ET

To no surprise, luxury brands still are hesitant toward plus-size markets and plus-size advertising. But, in 2018, is this going to hinder their business? Absolutely.

The plus-size market has grown 23% in sales from 2013 to 2017 and has become a $21 billion business. Yet, majority of luxury brands turn away even at the word, “plus”.

Most consumers, including myself, thought we were done with the whole idea of putting women against each other based on size. Such plus-size phobia should’ve been kept in 1999, yet here we are in 2018 still having this mind-boggling argument.

Though majority of luxury fashion brands are now carrying plus-size options (mainly only online), they still hinder to make it known to their markets. For example, Michael Kors now carries plus-size styles, yet does not advertise them or even offer them online.

The overarching, uppity attitude across the luxury brand market can be explained by two reasons against the plus-size movement on their end.

1. Designers not wanting to design for or promote “fat people”. (WTF?)


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2. Luxury brands are too behind on the movement. (Get over it?)

“Being overweight is not very healthy, so it doesn’t matter how much of the population is fat; it’s not a healthy image to be putting out there,” stated an anonymous executive on Glossy.com.

The anonymous interviewee also proceeded to compare promotion of plus-size models to promoting anorexia. However, was the fashion industry not known for displaying sickly thin looking models for YEARS? Why care about promoting anorexia now when 70% of girls (grades five through 12) reported that magazines influence their idea of a perfect body.

“If a woman has a predisposition for an eating disorder and spends a lot of time looking at fashion magazines,” said HuffPost blogger Susand Albers, “this can be one of the factors that triggers feeling bad abut her body, which she then turns into eating disorder behavior, like excessive dieting.”

Also, if plus-size woman are too “unhealthy” to display, then what does that tell plus-size women? That they’re too unhealthy to be worthy of praise and should hide behind a sea of sweat pants? The reality is that not being stick-thin is deemed unhealthy, when that is beyond false. Being healthy is a spectrum full of different body types, genetics, and lifestyles, not a Victoria Secret Angel daydream.

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The unnecessary dismay is even found within the designer community itself. After releasing a collaborated line with Lane Bryant, designer Prabal Gurung was prone to “snickering” from the fashion world including a question from a fellow artist, “why are you designing for fat people?”, according to Fashionista.com.

Now, maybe the fashion industry isn’t as harmful as we are lead on. Perhaps they are a little embarrassed to be so behind on a curve that has been proven time and time again to have nothing but positive attributes all around. I mean why else would they hold out on a large market that contains over half of the women population?

“I don’t think they want to emphasize that they didn’t do it before,” commented Gary Wassner, chief executive of Hilldun (a lender to the fashion industry), “they are trying to eliminate the size prejudice without acknowledging that there had been a prejudice.”

For years now, lower priced brands such as ASOS, H&M, and Forever 21 introduced plus-size options in-stores and online. Is it possible the luxury industry really just doesn’t want to be behind on the curve? It could be possible, but for an industry that paves the way all things fashion, it is a little sad and long overdue for an attitude adjustment.

These brands need to understand that their overarching power in fashion has way more control over the media than they might know. Simply put, if they start introducing plus-size models into their photo shoots and having plus-sized models on their runways, the culture of the industry would change. For example, when Gucci announced its pledge to go fur-free in 2017, a slew of designer brands followed suit.

So, once these brands get off their heroin-chic high horse, fashion can be a safe place for women of all sizes to experiment and feel beautiful.

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