A lot of times when we talk about plus fashion here on xoJane and elsewhere around the web, it can feel like we’re all just shouting into a big ol’ echo chamber. We know the drill — curvy girl wants to look cute, curvy girl can’t find anything that fits or is flattering, curvy girl complains on the interwebs, and her curvy superfriends are all, “Omg, me too!” Rinse, repeat a month later.

We all KNOW there’s a huge plus problem in fashion, but it can’t help but feel like no one’s paying attention to what we say. Like, if a big girl opens up her closet, realizes she STILL doesn’t have a great black dress and wails in frustration does anyone hear her?

Oh my god, yes. YES. Somebody does hear her!


Last week fashion columnist Christina Binkley appeared in a video on the Wall Street Journal in which she basically said, “C’mon you stupids. Plus girls are looking for clothes and you all are leaving money on the table.” OK, so that’s not an exact quote, but what she did say is this:

“Young fashion lovers have been demanding at an almost revolutionary pace, they have been screaming, ‘We want fashion, we want short shorts and miniskirts and all the trendy looks.’” And bluntly enough, she asserted that one of the main reasons that a lot of fashion companies don’t bite is because they “don’t want to be associated with ‘fat.’”

That’s right, Ms. Binkley. Call it like it is.

Of course, those of us who have been having these conversations for years kinda already know what the deal is. But there’s something to be said about national fashion columnist in a major publication using her platform to put the industry on notice too.

And the industry will have no choice but to open its eyes once it really digests the numbers that Ms. Binkley cites in her column — online retailer ModCloth found that its plus customers buy 17 percent more items per order, and spend 25 percent more per order than straight size shoppers.

But even with that buying power, manufacturers are still tone deaf when it comes to plus. When ModCloth decided to expand its plus-size offering, it asked its 1,500 vendors to consider making larger sized clothes. And out of those 1,500, only 35 volunteered to do so. Thirty-five out of ONE THOUSAND AND FIVE HUNDRED VENDORS. And after only a year or so in existence, The Limited inexplicably shut down it’s plus line, Eloquii earlier this year.

What the deuce is wrong with these people?!

Anyone who’s not truly paying attention will be in for a rude awakening over the next couple of years. The fact is, women are tired of feeling bad about themselves. They’re tired of wondering if they’re too fat, of fighting their bodies, of being told to be ashamed of simply existing, and of being expected to dress as if they want to disappear. And you see all this in the popularity of sites like Curve Appeal, plus Pinterest boards and even all the plus size essays we send in to xoJane.

We are cute as hell and we are not going to act like we ain’t anymore! (Nothing illustrated that more clearly than the one-day sell-out of Gabi Gregg’s plus-size swimsuits and bikinis.)

Are there challenges to producing good plus fashion? Absolutely. There has to be a more thoughtful approach to design — what women want to cover, and what areas need support. (I swear to heaven if I see one more spaghetti-strap or backless plus dress, I will scream. I NEED TO WEAR BRAS, PEOPLE.)

Fit will become incredibly important and likely require more time and fine tuning. Plus garments do require more fabric — sometimes twice as much as a straight size — so yardage has to be used and cut thoughtfully. All of this WILL legitimately make for more expensive garments — but as we see from the numbers above, plus sized women are more than willing to pay for a good dress.

Oh, and while we’re here, let’s knock down another little assumption that isn’t suitable to mention in polite company but still pops up — “plus” doesn’t equal “poor.”

Just because a woman is bigger doesn’t mean she lacks the means or resources to make herself fashionably skinny and therefore has no need (or money) to buy fashionably priced clothes. Monif C. is a popular plus designer who sells her garments at higher-end prices — nearly $200 for swimsuits, and more than that for cocktail dresses — and her styles regularly sell out at lightning speed. So whether a design house wants to focus on discount fast fashion or boutique-quality garments, there’s a market share for all when it comes to plus.

Listen, fashion companies — we’re trying to help you out. We are literally waiting to give you our money in exchange for fashionable, well-made clothes. But hey, if image is more important to you than business, that’s your prerogative. That’s also going to be your problem in the not-so-distant future.

Veronica Miller is a graduate student in fashion design who is seriously itching to produce a plus line.


This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more
Veronica on XOJane!

  • LeonieUK

    Tailoring is the key and fashion houses are not always better, seriously. I’ve decided to buy more fabric and find a tailor to scale me, than crawling around high street and fashion brands to “Get me”. Fed up with lack of colour in plus size clothing is the worst ( IF I SEE ANOTHER BORING BLACK DRESS IN A SIZE 16 I WILL THROW UP). Yes losing weight getting toned and fit will enhance your shopping experince…just a little bit.

  • Weird

    Why don’t you start a business? Sometimes we have terrible business sense. When you know about a large untapped market, you don’t complain loudly about it, you try to move in and dominate.

  • http://twitter.com/rastaqueen92 Shug Avery (@rastaqueen92)

    A lot of these popular straight size companies have plus size collections that are offered exclusively online like H&M, and Old Navy. I don’t know which more burns my ass more: Old Navy differentiating between Women and PLUS SIZE as if we’re not women (and selling anything above a size 18/20 only online) or H&M’s god awful excuse of a plus size collection (plus it’s ridiculously expensive). Forever 21 seems to be a saving glory but the plus size section is secluded to a small section in some stores while straight sizes take up everywhere else.

    I mean…if these companies don’t want my money then I don’t won’t give it to me…but since there are supposedly so many fat women, profit off of it…duh!

  • Anthony

    I know this is totally off topic, but the woman pictured with the story is drop dead gorgeous! Oh, if I were young and single!

  • Tallulah Belle

    I had a clothing manufacturing company for plus size women for nearly a decade as part of a larger company I owned. The reason that there are fewer plus-sized options is because when a woman gains a great deal of weight, her body becomes disproportionate. Thus, it is nearly impossible to predict where or how a woman will be shaped when she is plus-sized. Is the weight in her bust? Her hips? Her tummy? Her thighs? Her back? It is impossible to predict this and therefore, it is impossible to create a standard garment pattern to mass produce the clothing. Fit is paramount here. The high cost of fabric and human labor to construct a large garment is also key.

    You see, basic clothing has a standard fit model and drape. There are variations for sure. However, within the plus-size sector, the variations of the shape of the human body, due to the presence of weight in certain areas creates an unpredictability. The variation is infinite, thereby making it nearly impossible to create a standardized fit. This means that garments can’t be costed properly, price becomes a huge issue as well as the human labor costs associated with constructing the garment. No company enjoys this challenge and in many instances, the enterprise is unprofitable. Plus size is a loss leader in the fashion industry.

    Finally, it is nearly impossible to design a “fashionable” garment, when the waistline does not taper. One of the most significant characteristics of plus size women and their clothing is that their waist measurement exceeds their bust measurement. The tummy is larger in circumference than the bust line.This means that elastic or elasticized fabrics must be used to create fit; as the garment cannot taper at the waist.

    Companies are well aware that a large majority of women are overweight or “plus size.” However, it is nearly impossible to create mass produced clothing for a store that suits this reality. The plus size body is simply non-standard.

    Again, when the human form reaches a certain size plateau, it is nearly impossible to mass produced garments off a given standard pattern. The plus size industry is simply a mathematical/geometric challenge that is not set up to sustain the human labor costs to cut, stitch and size the garments.

  • Miakoda

    Right. It’s all about you here…

  • http://gravatar.com/lawrencegonzalez01 lawrencegonzalez01

    God Forbid that people try to lose weight, eat “right”, sleep better and get more active. Oooh well.

  • Esined

    And while we’re doing that, we need to be clothed. Surely a person like you would know that??

  • requested

    Yes while your getting healthy you do need to be clothed but why would you buy expensive garments only to have them be of no use when you lose weight? I don’t get where we are headed with this “plus size ” is ok long term thing.

  • Yaenelle

    Tallulah Belle, thank you for this info, I never thought of the issue in those terms. It gives me a lot to consider and it seems that fashion houses aren’t just interested in dressing smaller sizes for image purposes.

  • Victoria

    First and foremost some people apparently need to understand what plus size is because you are plus size does NOT immediately mean you are un-healthly or overweight….Geez….Most stores consider 14 and up plus size and some even size 12…So please stop it with the whole get up and move thing because WE ARE…Now that’s out of the way I could care less I just want one retailer to focus on making plus size clothing more standard in sizes…The closest I’ve come too is Forever 21 and ASOS they typically have hands down the best and most stylish plus size fashion for any age and I can also wear items in their “regular” size too…Sometimes it’s just I need the extra room in my butt area or thighs…

  • Katei

    Some good sites. If you want designer unique clothes you can actually order tailor made designer gear for fraction of the cost at eshatki.com Monif C offers latest trends that are unique and IGIGI is great if you are a professional.

    But big people need to lose weight and its and if you a gut and never had an abortion and/or under age 40 with no major medical problems, its no excuse. Ignorance, poor diet/fitness and sheer greed triggers big girl genes. You see even Mo’nique stopped with the big girl propaganda. Hope that this information helps and happy shopping.

  • Faye

    I totally agree. I have worked at Lane Bryant and David’s Bridal (which goes up to a 30!), and I have seen so many women who were “plus sized” because of their boobs, butts, or thighs and normal everywhere else. Also, women over 5 foot 10 can wear a size 20 and still look like an athlete. NOT EVERYONE WHO IS PLUS SIZED NEEDS TO LOSE WEIGHT.

    Everyone should be able to buy and wear cute clothes, no matter what the size.

  • http://gravatar.com/geenababe geenababe

    THank You, I’m so sick of things being so one-sided. Just because you are plus size doesn’t mean you are unhealthy or not active. Just because you are skinny doesn’t mean you are healthy. The main ones who be talking about that you need to lose weight be unhealthy themselves or engaging in at risk activies such as smoking, drink, etc.

  • Anthony

    There is no one more harsh than a thin person talking about fat people. As someone who is heavy and who on more than one occasion lost weight, I have come to realize that people just don’t understand and most never will understand what it is to be heavy. You mentioned Mo’ nique, she was still over 200 lbs. If you just read about her weight without seeing her, most likely you would still say she is fat. Being heavy means that even after you lose weight, 90% of the time, you still don’t match what the majority find attractive. You just look “better.” The Jennifer Hudson’s of the world are extremely rare (I doubt if she could do it without the help of Weight Watchers.)

  • Ange B

    The best thing I liked about her article was the point made about what seems like this obsession it seems with plus size clothing lines to make strapless and spaghetti strapped dresses. I know there are plenty of women who that style works for but there are plenty of plus size women who are busty too and we need to wear out support bras and have them covered up.

  • Guess who?

    A 5’10″ woman can wear a size 20 and look like an athlete? Sorry, no.
    I am 6′ tall, wear a size 10 pants, 8 dress and can’t imagine looking like an athlete in a 20.
    I may be biased, as very tall women have an even more difficult time than fuller sized women–and cannot change our size. Shopping for a 37″ inseam pants, pantyhose, and coats that fit our arms is a daunting task.

    Tall women simply cannot walk into a store and find clothing, unless its a cami, underwear or sleeveless tops. Forget about pants and dresses or skirts that skim past the butt.

    There is an Ashley Stewart, Lane Bryant, Avenue, Old Navy and a handful of small-name stores right outside my door that cater to bigger women.
    We have no specialty stores that cater to our size, except for online, and unlike full-figured or obese women, we cannot change our height.
    I really don’t get the complaining.

  • http://gravatar.com/heavenleiblu heavenleiblu

    Hmm, as someone who has maintained an hourglass shape from size 8 up to 22, this is interesting to hear. I’m tall, so this may be why my proportions have remained intact. My knee jerk reaction was to call bullshit, but I concede that I’ve only had to dress myself and my daughter–also a tall girl, but not plus sized.

  • http://gravatar.com/heavenleiblu heavenleiblu

    Dude, I excelled in 2 sports (track being one of them) as what the industry considers plus sized. Get your life.

  • http://gravatar.com/heavenleiblu heavenleiblu

    ASOS has been a godsend for me.

  • Kay

    I guess some folks don’t really want to make money. When it comes down to business, you’ve got to go with what sells. This is supposedly an American ideal. And yet, if you’re not a size 6, you can’t find clothes on the rack that fit. I am slim according to my frame and my doctor, but when it comes to finding clothes that fit even my big butt and small waist, good luck! I’d be better off trying to find a needle in a haystack. I end up spending lots of money online for clothes meant for women with a bit more on bottom. Imagine if designers made clothes for everyone! They’d be making money hand over fist. It’s just like when companies refused to make make-up for Black women years ago. There was only Fashion Fair and a few other companies, and then some honcho figured out there was a goldmine out there. This is no different.

  • Kay

    Because in between losing weight, you’re living life. You’ve got places to go and things to do and don’t want to wear sweats the whole time. Believe me, I know. I lost 40 pounds after having my little one and sometimes wanted to celebrate by getting a new dress. It was often a motivational thing. And some women actually are ok with their size and DON’T want to lose weight. So….*shrugs*

  • Pepper

    Katei: Unfortunately it’s been my experience that (not all) but a lot of people don’t want to do what it really takes to lose weight. That goes for men, and women. #! Exercise and #2 Watch what they eat (especially cutting back on carbs, sugar, fatty foods). I have a niece that is depressed, and can’t understand why she can’t lose weight. Yet every time I open her refrig she’s got Liters of sweet tea, Hawaiian punch, cookies, cake, ice cream, etc. One of my overweight relatives was bold enough to say that she realizes that her over eating thing is a mental problem (a lot of people won’t admit that)

  • Pepper

    While I understand that most women want to be fashionably dressed; we should realize that larger women can’t always wear the same things that average size women wear. For example I see (lots of) larger women (all of the time) wearing strapless dresses, or dresses with spaghetti straps, and these women have arms so large that they look like a 10 pound ham is hanging off of their arms. Now some people may think me saying this is being mean. No it’s not being mean; it’s acknowledging that that’s not a good look on someone with huge arms. Same goes for spandex in that everyone (especially if there’s cellulite) doesn’t need to wear spandex.

  • Jane

    Same could be said for thinner women some stuff just don’t look good on anyone no matter what they wear.

  • Jane

    I hate how posts like these always go left. I mean it was about more stores offering clothes for bigger women and it turn it into another “why you can’t lose weight post”. Can’t there be a post about larger people without people bringing up all the other stuff.

  • http://gravatar.com/jswindell Nean

    That’s the very thing I hated most about shopping as I had a pear shape that would become more extreme until I got fibroids.

    Before they built the Grove in L.A. , I used to be in size 22/24 heaven as there were so many indie shops that catered to my size and I didn’t look like everybody else who was overweight.

  • Lea

    Until then, we all need to agree we need to lose weight though. Yours truly included. I was watching Soul Train episodes recently and everyone was so thin. What happened to us? We as a black people have very high obesity rates. nice to have clothing options but let’s all collectively say that we want to be thinner. We HAVE to be thinner. Too many rampant diseases related to weight our hurting our communities.

  • Lou

    I think it’s all according to where you live….in NY there are plenty of shops that carter to plus size fashions…..

  • http://twitter.com/NicT10 NicT (@NicT10)

    Hmm, I know a lot of women who are single digit sizes who have some pretty funky shapes so I’m not sure that is true. Whites, Asians, and Mexicans tend to carry a lot of belly weight or back fat and they don’t have to be very heavy for that to be true. I have two white friends who are probably size 6 and they both look pregnant at all times. But they have small arms and legs and flat bottoms.
    Basically, all of the body shapes, apple, pear, hourglass, straight, inverted triangle seem pretty evenly distributed…and whatever your body type is it perhaps becomes more obvious as you gain weight, which in my opinion is why a lot of white and Asian woman strive for a very low body weight. They are just going to add chins and belly fat with an extra 10lb.
    So yeah, I think the whole “fat women become disproportionate blobs” is just an excuse, b/c it is crazy when I see straight sized women who have bellies and back fat but can find clothes that seem to have extra room for that.

  • http://twitter.com/NicT10 NicT (@NicT10)

    Yeah, a lot of black women with some flat stomachs and tiny waists have to wear at least a size 12 pants to get some room for the butt. So the only black friends I have who can wear tiny size pants have no butts and skinny legs…which is fine, but pants are definitely cut for a white girl shape, complete with the pouch for the stomach that they frequently have.
    So if you are a black girl, you will probably need a tailor on speed dial.
    Now with tops, it is the reverse b/c they don’t have enough room in the chest but again can have too much room in the belly or back.

  • Anthony

    Don Cornelius probably just didn’t let fat folks on Soul Train.

  • http://kitaku.com.au/ Kitaku

    What Christina Binkley asserted is the exact truth. But we don’t understand why the large fashion houses are paying very little heed to this issues. Whoever trying to design plus size, concentrates on making it simple, as if plus sized woman are satisfied only having a dress and fashions are not for them. It seems like whether most of them doesn’t have good ideas for designing in the case of plus size or they are fully unaware of the impending market.
    Thanks to the author for giving a wake up call.

  • http://gravatar.com/heavenleiblu heavenleiblu

    @Guess who? So then what of a tall AND plus sized woman like me?

    I’d also like to add that all the brand that you named that cater to plus sized women are frumpy and matronly as all hell. I can’t get a pair a pants from any of them and expect to look decent without getting them tailored, because apparently their designers assume that plus sized women all have big bellies; which I do not, so they have this big booty-do pocket in front, and it looks terrible on anyone that isn’t round in the middle.

  • http://gravatar.com/heavenleiblu heavenleiblu

    Haha, I wish I’d seen your reply first!

  • cabugs

    Hi heavenleiblu,
    Yes to ASOS! I’m the opposite (very petite) and ASOS has been wonderful to me!

  • http://Nessielike.blogspot.com Miss Moore

    So because you’re fat u can’t have nice clothes? Really where’s the logic in this? Money is money, and for every person that says “well ,fat people just need to loose weight”,& do what? Go naked in the process of losing said weight so u can see the extent of my rolls and folds that you so enjoy? As someone who has lost 136lbs,with the help of the gastric sleeve , exercise , & a whole new way of eating I know that while I was losing my weight I still had to dress presentably for day to day life as would normally. It would have been nice 2 have more fashionable options at my finger tips with frequently fluctuating weight. This is just a real life problem. Grow up and deal with it! People are fat,get fat, & are trying to be unfat, such is life. You need clothes for all occasions. And finally, for all u mofo who act like they are so concerned with the obesity epidemic anytime there is an article written about full figured,curvy, plus size etc. , please spare us your bs. You aren’t genuinely concerned with health of these (usually ,young (black )and fly)women. It apparently is so offensive to be overweight( not every fat person is obese and certainly not morbidly so- trust me I know because i was morbidly obese now I just fat medical speaking ) as if the worst thing one can be is overweight! It’s not! Grow up,love yourself,& stay healthy&happy.

  • Anthony

    Well said.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jewellthief Farringtonsmyname Jewellthief

    No, because then they wouldn’t have any reason to post other than to complain. What these champions of the skinny don’t understand is that, in Hollywood, a size 10 is considered plus. Let’s not forget, the average size of women in this country is a size 14.

  • http://gravatar.com/latinlover Pseudonym

    If the average size of women in this country is a size 14, then this country needs to lose weight. Just as not everyone/most people should be a size zero, not everyone/most people should be a size 14. Fat acceptance is not the way to go. Just look at the diabetes and hypertension rates; they are out of control and people are killing themselves eating tons and tons of crappy food with little nutrition value (which is why they in turn are eating so much of it).

    This bad food/no exercise/obesity phenomenon is not solely the fault of overweight people. We work way too much (It’s terribly difficult to find time to workout even if you’re single with one job and no kids.) and eating healthy is terribly expensive (As a broke student, I’ve had to forego fruits and vegetables at the end of the semester b/c I simply couldn’t afford them.). The culture of food, work, and recreation in the USA has to change…but, sadly, I don’t think that it will anytime soon.

  • Objectifyingyourself

    Veronica Miller is a graduate student in fashion design who is seriously itching to produce a plus line.

    Correction – is just the latest incarnation of the corrupt African chief who delivered African bodies into the system of slavery to be exploited as slaves.

    Today’s corrupt African chief promises to deliver black bodies to corporation to be exploited as consumers, for the price of a little more face time on the cover of the corporations filthy magazines.

    Nothing more than 21st century tinpot beads and trinketism.

    Graduate student my arse.

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