The Problem With Today’s Plus-Size Fashion

I find myself in a bit of a conundrum. I love to shop, but I also don’t enjoy a wardrobe full of fast fashion. I try to avoid companies that aren’t ethically producing clothing, but in the plus-size world of fashion, there aren’t a lot of options. Yes, companies are definitely beginning to expand their range, and that’s great. But even though I don’t enjoy fast fashion, I’m also not a millionaire. Don’t get me wrong, I keep a pretty minimal wardrobe. I’m not asking for the moon here. But the options of stylish, ethical and affordable plus-size fashion are limited. So many of the companies today check multiple boxes, but not all of them. If it’s affordable and stylish, it’s often not sustainable. If it’s stylish and ethical, it’s rarely affordable. Also, if you’re here to say “then curvy girls should lose weight,” you can move right along. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and all women deserve to feel beautiful.

I get why it’s hard for smaller brands to expand their size range. I understand why. I’m a finance gal. I understand the cost of production and resources it takes to expand an existing line to new size ranges. It’s not just a matter of snapping your fingers and making it happen. There’s supply and demand. Manufacturing costs fluctuate based on size range and product needed. You have to hire models of different sizes. New patterns have to be made. Financially, it’s not an easy move for smaller businesses.

But let’s tackle one of the other issues. Why is so much plus-size fashion ugly?! In short, the answer is this: Most brands take their sample pattern and just blow it up. They don’t take the time to think about how women’s bodies are different. So many plus-size choices are shapeless, basic and uninspiring. With the plus-size industry being a $21.4 BILLION dollar industry, you’d think they could put a little more effort into it. When you head into certain big-box stores, the “regular” section is often separated from the “plus” section, and the differences are vastly different. The plus-size section is often smaller and less inspiring. Hey brands, just because it’s above a size 12 does not mean it has to be a MUMU. We don’t need to wear potato sacks in black and navy because those colors are “flattering.”

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And what’s with the separation? Can’t it just all be in “Women”? Saying “curvy” or “plus” implies that there’s a difference in the way women consume fashion. We need to remove the divisions. Curvy women aren’t ashamed of their bodies. Not every plus-size woman is “round.” We have hips, boobs and curvy figures that deserve clothes that make us feel beautiful.

It’s time for plus-size inclusion to become a true movement in the fashion industry. Representation matters.

Like I said, while I wish they could, I understand how hard it is for smaller brands to expand to new ranges. If you want to see what I mean, just go read the comment thread on @everlane or another small, ethically manufactured companies. For now, here are a few brands that are shifting the narrative and making the change.

Girlfriend

I live in Girlfriend leggings and bras. They’re the most comfortable athletic wear on the market, and they go up to size 6XL. The cherry on top is they are reasonably priced, and all the products are made out of recycled plastic. No kidding, the leggings I’m wearing as I write this are made from recycled fishing nets!

H&M

Before you @ me, H&M is one of the most ethically progressive “fast fashion” companies. So if you are only able to purchase things on the more affordable end, H&M is your best bet for plus-size options.

Elizabeth Suzann

This brand is more on the pricey side, but not inaccessible. Plus, everything that’s made is pure linen, silk or cotton, as well as high-quality and timeless.

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And Comfort

Think Everlane, but curvy. This company is based on a capsule mindset and curates fundamental pieces for your wardrobe that are elegant and versatile. They are sustainable, fair-trade and direct to consumer. A basic Pima cotton tee will run you $40 as opposed to a lot of other sustainable brands that charge upward of $90.

Catch up on more fashion here: 7 Jackets That Are Great For Transitioning Out Of WinterWhy “Man Repeller” Fashion Is A Great Idea and How To Stay Fashionable This Winter When All You Want To Wear Are Oversized Sweaters

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Author: Samantha Welker

Samantha Welker is the business manager at Glitter Guide. She has an Master's in Corporate Finance & Sustainability from Harvard Business School but prefers working in the creative industry. She also hosts a weekly business podcast for creative women called Pretty Okay Podcast. She loves spending time with her husband and her son, Rocky, in sunny San Diego. Follow along on Instagram

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