Did you happen to see the essay on fashion for plus-size women broadcast during last Friday’s PBS News Hour?
It was encouraging to see Tim Gun, the high profile fashion consultant, talking about fashion design in what some might call the real world, not the world of haute couture. He started by pointing out that the average American woman is between a size 16 and a size 18. This accounts for over 80 million women.
Mr. Gun shared that the overwhelming response he receives when talking to people in the fashion industry: “I’m not interested in her" -- concluding that to them, these women are invisible.
Additionally he points out that plus-sized designs with box pleats and shoulder pads make the body look larger, while if done right clothing can help one look taller and slimmer. Mr. Gun acknowledged that the high-fashion designers are not going to deviate from what the industry revolves around, namely thinness. So he focused on the opportunity that exists among this very large group of women, which is increasing their spending on clothes faster than others. Then, he declared that designs must be re-conceived, not just sized up, and he challenged the accessible designers to “step up to the plate.”
This message resonated with me even though I design with men in mind, partially because I grew up in a house filled with women, none of whom was a size one. But also because I have come to realize that women are responding to my designs, buying my knitting kits and making sweaters for themselves, not just the men in their lives. I hadn’t realized that my sizing allows them to find something that fits well and that they feel flatters them. I hope in some small way I’m helping a few of these women.
Because I strongly agree with Tim Gun when he says “There is no reason why larger women can’t look just as fabulous as all other women…And in this time of inclusiveness, why should 80 million women be marginalized?”