An open letter to clothing designers & retailers
Dear fashion folk,
I want to give you money. If only you would let me.
(Did that get your attention?)
Recently I went shopping for new clothes: I’d heard about some great jeans available on Main Street in Vancouver. Unfortunately, like so many other occasions, the store was out of stock in anything resembling a size large enough to fit me. In itself this is not so tragic of course. But, we’re talking fashion here, so please bear with me.
Main St., if you’re unfamiliar, has a stretch of stores selling wonderful indie designers’ fashions and vintage stuff. Stuff I really, really like in many cases.
Unfortunately, that store with the skinny-only jeans was not unique among it’s competitors. None of these stores had much in a size Large. Most had no designs in Extra Large. Don’t even get me started on how many of the designs were styled for twiggy bodies to begin with, as if flat-chested women with narrow hips are the only ones who want interesting clothes.
Did I mention that I want to give you money? I’m not alone.
According to a report on the plus-size apparel industry in Canada:
- roughly 30% of women in Canada wear size 14 and over, and
- we are one of the most under-served markets in the fashion industry.
My experience that day was, sadly, not unusual. At size 14 I am continually frustrated while seeking clothes that fit. Many “normal” lines do not go large enough, or are not cut to flatter a curvy figure. (Like, if I can get a shirt or jacket zipped up at all, it’s “Hello, monoboob!”)
Yet if I do find a section of “plus” sized clothes, these are typically too big or cut to hide figures more than I’d like.
So, I keep heading back to Reitmans who are in the minority of Canadian retailers who understand there’s both an underserved and (with the aging of the boomers) a growing market in plus-sized fashions. They have it so figured out, in fact, that their regular line has sizes large enough to accommodate me with room to spare. Their website is even useful (gasp!) with a sizing chart that goes so far as to include bicep measurements. (Since I’ve been lifting weights, biceps are another problem area for jackets. *sigh*)
There is a point, and that is this:
Get away from the runways. Leave your studios. SQUISH whatever it is that’s making you design as if women will look like teenagers throughout adulthood until they suddenly fit the grandmother niche (oh, excepting of course the profitable maternity phase of course). Have a look around. Notice all the beautiful, curvy women who want to give you money. Design cool, flattering clothes for us. Get ‘em out there. Then tell me about them. I’ll not only buy some, I will sing your praises from the rooftops and help you spread the word.
And I promise you, I’m not alone in that.
Thanks for reading.