Plus size women have long felt ignored by the fashion industry. “Plus” was treated like a dirty word in the fashion world, causing shame and confusion for those who didn’t fit the skinny, tall standard fashion designers kept pushing at us. Few major retailers and boutiques made clothes for plus size consumers and the ones that did hid their plus size offerings in separate sections or basements.
Plus size is commonly considered between sizes 14 and 32, according to data from Plunkett Research. For the stores that stock plus size fashion, the stock is often so minimal that most sizes sell out quickly, making it difficult for customers to find items in their size. Brands like Michael Kors and Gap offer up to about a size 20, but in many cases the clothing in those sizes can only be found online. The perception among many was that designers welcomed plus size customers’ money, but not their presence in stores.
Today, a new trend is emerging with more fashion designers turning their focus to the plus size market. Designers are focusing on plus size fashion that makes the buyer feel good about wearing it. The trend is not surprising as plus size consumers have become the majority. Plus size women now account for 67 percent of the population. The average size of a woman in the western world today is a size 14. In the United States alone, plus size clothing is now a $17.5 billion market.
As plus size fashion becomes more common, more people are flocking to the designers that have embraced the fact that not everyone can be a size 2. There are many people who want to spend their money on plus size fashion but don’t know where to go. Many of the designers that only made clothing for those size 8 and below are finding that they are missing out on a significant portion of the market.
Brands need to stop thinking that everyone who is bigger wants to hide it and start creating plus size fashion that the wearers can be proud of. The “Pink the Runway” fashion show, created by Crystal Carmen and Laura Mazurek and taking place at the Le Meridien Hotel on Oct. 30, features 30 plus size models in styles from local and national designers. There’s also a documentary coming out next year called “Straight/Curve” that questions whether size zero will remain the norm and talks about plus models as pioneers. More dialog about plus size fashion will hopefully encourage more designers to shift their focus to fashion that everyone can wear.