Curvy Girls Love Fashion Too: Fashion often skips its most important customer, and it’s time that changes.

Candice Huffine is perhaps one of the first curvy girls to walk down a prominent designer’s runway. This photo taken of the Prabal Gurung runway is courtesy of Business of Fashion.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tim Gunn, fashion guru and that guy from Project Runway, wants to get rid of the term “plus-sized.” I do too.

Although we are increasingly being more inclusive to women who are larger than a size 12, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

For example: I’m a size 10, which definitely feels like an “inbetween size.” Larges at Forever 21, for example, look way too small, but when I pop over into their curvy sizes department, I feel weird. I awkwardly smile at the curvy girl scanning the racks, and continue looking around regardless of my semi self-conscious feeling only to find nothing in an XL. My $25 gift card gets spent on hangers instead, a much better investment in the long run.  

Likewise, the super popular curvy girl store Torrid also sells to the size 10 individual. I scan the comments section of their Facebook post that informs their customers of this: one girl claims that she feels that’s unfair to curvy girls, who rely on Torrid to find cute clothes in their size. For me, it’s a simple blessing that they understand the struggle.

Curvy girls should never have to go through the stigma of having their clothes be called “plus size.” The average size for adult women is now a 16-18. This is not my place to tell the fashion world that they’re being non-inclusive; I could (and should) write an entire article about how they’ve been the most progressive industries of history with their acceptance of gay fashion designers and the legacy of Coco Chanel and the like. Rather, this is more of an insight as to how popular plus-sized retailers have kept their success up.

Modcloth.com has been a favorite of mine for a solid five years. Their unique, vintage-inspired clothing from countless designers (from Betsey Johnson to the footwear brand Irregular Choice) is not the sole factor of what makes Modcloth so successful. On their About Us page, they explain that success can also be attributed to their extensive size selection ─ “because we believe fashion is for everybody” ─ and their outstanding customer service.

Kellie Brown of the blog “And I Get Dressed” discussed with the Man Repeller team in the website’s Round Table discussion on Plus Sized Women in Fashion about the trials of trying to find cute clothes in your size. She states right off the back that retailers often don’t regard the plus-sized girl as having her own personality, and therefore don’t give her clothes to boot. While straight-sized women can be whatever they want to be (Retro! Sporty! Edgy! Minimalistic!), curvy girls are often denied this opportunity and miss shopping at popular straight-sized stores like Forever 21, Zara and J. Crew.

Meanwhile, Man Repeller’s curvaceous graphic designer Emily Zirimis is tired of curvy clothes being on the third floor, tucked behind the children’s clothes, something that’s a depressingly common trend.  

“What message is that sending me as the buyer?” she asks. “Why are we hiding the plus sizes?  Why not integrate all of the sizes into one clothing rack. Why not [sell] a size 2 to 28 in the same style?”

(Despite the setbacks, I’d argue that Brown and Zirimis have done a beautiful job of flaunting every last part of her figure with pride )

Tim Gunn explains in his pro-curve video that the designers he’s talked with are simply not willing to take up the challenge, and this has some devastating consequences. For an industry that’s seems to be made up of a series of feminists and equal rights supporters, it doesn’t take the time to reach out to what could potentially be its most important customer.

In a world full of great fast fashion, curvy girls are denied the luxury of getting to be part of their trends. Again, in a two-story Forever 21, straight-sized fashions are ever prominent while the curvy girl get’s an eighth of the store for her clothing needs.
Would it be too much to ask popular retailers and high-end designers to be a little more curve-conscious? I don’t think so.

Column by Morgan Connelly

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1 Response

  1. Danielle Jarkowsky says:

    Great story. I appreciate the perspective.