The Fashion Industry Has a Plus-Size Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

plussize women changing the fashion industry

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

It’s advice we’ve all likely heard at some point throughout our careers. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve written it in the pages of a magazine at least once in the near decade I’ve worked in fashion. The thinking goes as follows: If you want your bosses to see you as someone who can take on more authority, you need to act that way. Part of that demonstration is in how you present yourself.

For thin women, it’s good advice. I can still recall the outfits I wore to land each of my jobs “a million girls would kill for.” A fit-and-flare Kate Spade dress with teal-blue peep-toe pumps (it was 2013 and for a cheeky teen magazine). A fitted black sheath with a tweed Tibi blazer and pointy Louboutins. In hindsight, shopping for those interviews was easy. Sure, I was stressed and wanted to look perfect, but it was nothing a quick trip to Barneys after work couldn’t fix.

Then earlier this year I found myself at a place in my career where I was ready to take on more ownership. I’d just turned 30, landed my own video series, had already been managing a growing number of responsibilities—and I also had recently gained 60 pounds.

That last part is important, because as I started looking to my mentors for guidance, suddenly the very advice I’d clung to as I climbed my way up the ladder had landed me flat on my (now size 14) ass. One told me to work on my “presentation,” while another flat-out told me I needed to “dress better.” Admittedly, I’d been wearing a lot of oversized sweaters and jeans because my “dress for the job you want” investments—$500 printed floral maxis, whimsical wrap dresses, and silk button-downs—were now collecting dust in my closet, waiting for my weight to yo-yo back to a size 10 so I could squeeze into them again.

As someone who has worked tirelessly to prove myself in an industry where I’ve often felt like I needed to be better—better-spoken, better-dressed, better-made-up—it was a crushing blow not just to my ambition, but to the way I felt about my body. Even with Glamour‘s commitment to size inclusivity over the years, I’m only one of two plus-size people on staff and often the only curvy person on shoots and in senior-level meetings.

How could I tell these women I couldn’t dress like a director because all the beauty directors I knew wore brands like Dôen and Sleeper, which stopped at a size 10 or a small 12? Did I really need to lose weight to be any better at my job?

Of course not, but therein lay the issue: For women above a size 12, there’s invisible labor that goes into putting together outfits the fashion world considers stylish. We can’t just pop into a department store or Zara and buy off the rack. We have to hunt down pieces online, spend extra money for shipping, and carefully study measurements to find things our colleagues can buy with ease—or are sent for free as gifts from brands. It’s easy to be fashionable when you’re thin.

I was disheartened at first, and then I got angry. Taking cues from Lindsay Peoples Wagner’s groundbreaking report “What It’s Really Like to be Black and Work in Fashion” for The Cut, which spurred a thoughtful and nuanced conversation about the pains of racism and bias across every facet of the fashion industry, I set out to talk to dozens of others who are also plus-size and work in fashion.

I did eventually find brands I look and feel great in—many at the recommendation of the dozens of people I talked to—but what I walked away with was a network of women who are ready to do for fashion what Rihanna did for the beauty industry: Revolutionize it.

I listened as other editors, writers, photographers, influencers, models, and stylists told me I wasn’t alone. Models shared their frustration over the lack of jobs both on the runway and off, not to mention the horrific, blatantly fatphobic things designers have said to them. Editors and influencers shared stories of being confused for the help at Fashion Week. Consultants discussed how brands would hire them for their plus-size marketing experience then decide to go in a “different direction” (read “the same tired stereotypes plus women are sick of;” more on those below).

Plus-size women represent 68% of shoppers, and yet for each of these individuals below, we’re often only a small percentage of the people in our respective positions in fashion. The majority of decision makers are still straight-size. But change is on the horizon. As writer Nicolette Mason puts it in our September cover story on the New Supers: “Inclusivity is the future in fashion. You can either get on board or fade into irrelevance.”

The Fashion Industry Has a PlusSize Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

We’re willing to spend money on our clothes…


Kellie Brown

Influencer and creator of #FatAtFashionWeek

Kellie Brown
Courtesy of Kellie Brown

“Brands are crazy for not expanding sizes. I want it to be just as appalling as a beauty brand not making inclusive shades—that if you come off the line selling only to one small demographic of people, that everyone in a united way would be outraged. Do better. I know from the business perspective that it costs way more; every size you add is another expense. But for the brands that can, they should. You hate fat people that much? Your disdain for my body type is so great that you would deny it? In a business where your entire purpose is to make money? That’s wild.”


Abbei Brown

Former fashion merchant

Abbei Brown
Courtesy of Torrid

“In my various roles in fashion merchandising over the past nine years, it’s been challenging to get straight-size retailers to invest in plus. A merchant’s job, in short, is to hand-select what products to bring into stores and online. So many retailers want to dip their toe into plus, but they only offer certain styles they deem ‘plus-appropriate.’ I’d hear things like, ‘A plus woman wouldn’t want something like this.’ No! What plus women really want is to not be limited in choice. Many companies still don’t realize our spending power.”


Khalea Underwood

Zoe Report beauty editor

Khalea Underwood
Courtesy of Khalea Underwood

“Money has no size. I spend as much money as somebody who’s a size six or a size two. But I can count on one hand the number of stores I can go into in New York City [and find my size]. One of them is Forever21, and granted it’s nice to have cheap options, but sometimes you don’t want to rifle through piles of clothing and fight teenagers for an outfit. I want to be able to go to a nice store with curated racks and a clean dressing room. It’s especially bad whenever I travel for work. I get nervous my suitcase will get lost, because if I’m overseas, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to find something that fits my body. There isn’t a Macy’s or an Eloquii. It’d be nice if I could just go to whatever busy avenue or mall there is in whatever city and pick out something decent in a pinch, but it’s impossible.”


Chastity Gardner Valentine

Cofounder of the Curvy Con

Chastity Gardner Valentine
Courtesy of Chastity Gardner Valentine

“There’s still a big problem with the variety of price points being offered. In the straight-size world, trends come from the top down—the inspiration comes from the runways, and then it filters down into lower-priced items. And for plus, it seems that it comes from the bottom up. Most of our clothing is $100 or under, which is great, because it makes it accessible. But there are still so many designs and fabrics that we’re not able to wear, because so few contemporary brands are making us options. Plus women would definitely pay $250, even $500, for [stylish, high-quality clothes].”

The Fashion Industry Has a PlusSize Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

…But brands aren’t giving us options to shop


Sarah Chiwaya

Plus-size consultant and influencer

Sarah Chiwaya
Karya Schanilec

“Sometimes brands will expand into plus in a really thoughtless, kind of sloppy way. Then they’ll throw up their hands, like, ‘It didn’t work! Nobody wants to buy this!’ That’s because it looks like trash—or it looks nothing like the original, which always really irks me. Like, if there’s a designer known for their bold colors and patterns, or their sexy high slits, and they give you a black sweater muumuu that’s completely different from everything they do—they think that somehow just slapping their name on it [is considered expanding into plus]. Then there’s this very strange attitude that plus-size women should feel grateful for this kind of sloppy, slapdash effort. And that if we don’t, if we’re not falling all over ourselves and fawning at their feet in gratitude that they would deign to serve our fat bodies, then they’re like, ‘Oh well, this didn’t work, we tried it before.’”


Hunter McGrady

Model

Hunter McGrady
Travis Curry

“Only a few brands make truly trendy plus-size options, while the rest aren’t very thoughtfully designed for plus bodies. There’s been a forever-long misconception that plus women should dress a certain way—don’t wear horizontal stripes, don’t wear anything too form-fitting, don’t wear shorts, hide your curves, the list goes on—and many brands hold on to that archaic train of thought. We want to wear the same things everyone else is wearing. Yes, that means crop tops!”


Lizette Lopez

Associate buyer at Sears and Kmart

Lizette Lopez
Courtesy of Lizette Lopez

“Not all plus-size women want to be more covered up. Give us the bikini! Give us the mini skirt! We don’t want to walk into a club with our ‘skinny’ friend wearing a muumuu. Assortments should be curated to plus-size women, and we should be given fashion, not just the basics. And while we’re talking about it, stop putting plus sections next to maternity in department stores. It’s time for us to feel like we belong.”


Liz Muñoz

CEO of Torrid

Liz Muoz
Courtesy of Liz Muñoz

“The industry needs to change its point of view that plus means old. For decades, plus women have been viewed as post-baby, post-menopausal, or older women who aren’t into fashion. Quite the contrary—women of all ages want to look stylish, young, sexy and put-together in clothes that fit. For most of my 20s and 30s I never had anything to wear. I had no style. I wasn’t fashionable. I wore things that weren’t me because that was all that I could find out there in my size. I didn’t go out to events or parties because I didn’t want to be the fat girl in men’s T-shirts and leggings. Now I always joke that I dress too young for a 52-year-old CEO because I didn’t get to dress like a 20-year-old when I was one, so now I’m making up for lost time.”

The Fashion Industry Has a PlusSize Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

When we do get cool clothes, the design and size range isn’t always there


Kelly Augustine

Owner of August Raye Boutique

Kelly Augustine
Trevon James

“There are a number of high-end designers that have gone into plus, but it’s just not done in the right way. For example, I’m a solid size 18, and I’m trying things in a 22 that still don’t fit. It’s because they haven’t taken the time to make little tweaks—either because the designers aren’t plus or they’re not asking enough plus people. They’re honestly doing us a disservice because as shoppers we’re getting excited, but having it not fit makes you feel worse. The onus is really on brands to take the time to do us justice. Serve us the way that you serve the other sizes. If you’re going to do anything above a 14, actually fit it on more than one person. Find someone who’s an hourglass, who’s fuller in the stomach, who’s hippy, so you know how things are going to fit.”


Kelly Bales

Executive director of creative development, video, at Condé Nast and former editorial director of allure.com

Kelly Bales
Courtesy of Kelly Bales

“Style is a major thing that still needs to be addressed. There are nuances that make something current versus a bit of an older silhouette. Suddenly when you move to plus, everything ties at the waist, is A-line, and hits right below the knee. It’s just a very dated silhouette that I can see from a mile away. They’re things that are very recognizable of someone being like, ‘Oh, this is better for a bigger body,’ when it’s really not. It actually looks dated and lame. I want to be able to wear flowy or trendy things without being accused of hiding my body. Bigger women want to look cool too. There are these unwritten rules about what’s flattering we’ve all been following for years. We deserve more. We deserve better.”


CeCe Olisa

Cofounder of the Curvy Con

CeCe Olisa
Marta Skovro McAdams

“I’ve gone from a size 28 to an 18, and my life is easier now. I’m not okay with that. That’s why I always advocate for women who are in a higher size range. When I was in that body, if I had an emergency on a trip and my jeans ripped, I didn’t have an option to go buy a new pair of jeans. I also think the plus-size fashion industry shouldn’t depend on plus-size women to push forward and champion [true size inclusion], we need allies. So hopefully, no matter where your body falls, you’ll always speak for the version of life that’s inclusive.”


Rose Lawrence

Model

Rose Lawrence
Courtesy of Rose Lawrence

“There needs to be a better awareness of how different sizes range. One, because we all know sizes are kind of irrelevant. And two, because I—like many other plus-size women—fluctuate between sizes. I go from a 14 to an 18; it just really depends on the day, the brand, the fabric, and the shape of a garment. But then on set, they’ll only call in size 14 samples, often from brands that already run small. That’s not going to work on my body. There also needs to be more mindfulness that, especially with plus, not everyone has the same exact features. For example, my arms are bigger, so if a size 14 doesn’t stretch there, it’s not going to fit.”

The Fashion Industry Has a PlusSize Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

That’s because the resources to make plus-size fashion better are severely lacking


Jasmine Elder

Designer and owner of Jibri

Jasmine Elder
Courtesy of Jasmine Elder

“Although our shopping options have multiplied, the tiers of quality have not. I’d love to see more high-end and detailed garments for plus, but that can’t happen without plus designers’ having more access to investors. Most of us are indie and self-funded. That puts a limitation on what we can afford to create and where the pieces can be bought. I think our clients sometimes don’t understand that our quantities are limited, the speed of our production is slower, and the price points are different all because of our access to resources.”


Marta Topran

Editorial director at Ipsy and former beauty director

Marta Topran
Courtesy of Marta Topran

“Over the years when I’d try to pitch a plus model for a story, there always seemed to be excuses for why a plus model wouldn’t work. Everything from there not being enough to choose from, to not having enough time to get in clothing options for non-sample-size women, to the photographer’s already having a list of girls they wanted to work with. It takes effort to go beyond the status quo, and it’s time that everyone, not just plus women themselves (we’ve been doing a lot behind the scenes already!), step up to the plate to make change.”


Jordan Foland

Director of brand development at Henning

Jordan Foland
Carter Fish

“If you’re a designer who wants to make clothes for someone bigger than me, a size 18, there‘s no bust form in existence unless you have one custom made which costs thousands of dollars. I design on the side, and had to track one down from a manufacturer in L.A. that sells to brands like Eloquii. It cost $700 and was the biggest financial investment of my adult life to date. Even still, it’s not quite what I need—she has a flat stomach, which isn’t true of most size 18 women. When I started putting fabric on her to drape, I realized it wasn’t at all reflective of a human body. But it was the best thing I could get.”


Lydia Hudgens

Photographer

Lydia Hudgens
Emma Trim

“I’ve heard a lot of stories from models about how the stylists they work with on shoots have never touched a plus body before. They either don’t know how to dress them or they don’t really understand how the fit should look, which is really frustrating. And this isn’t just limited to brands; this includes publications. All the other [straight-size] girls in the shoot will get amazing editorial looks, and then the plus girls get pieces that cover their entire body. If stylists and editors just did a little hunting, they’d definitely find some interesting things. I think a lot of it comes down to laziness, but also an entitlement that they don’t feel like they need to find things. They don’t want to educate themselves.”

The Fashion Industry Has a PlusSize Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

We’re still working to break down stereotypes


Kyrsten Sinclair

Model

Kyrsten Sinclair
Courtesy of Kyrsten Sinclair

“Sometimes I feel like I have to hide my personality to fit the stereotypes pushed onto plus women—we’re always happy in photos, never sexy or serious. My personal style is on the edgier side, and at times I find that I’m pushed away from it because some people in the industry don’t believe someone with my body type would dress that way.”


Joy Hill

Model

Joy Hill
Courtesy of Joy Hill

“There seem to be quite a few people who believe that plus-size models are inherently promoting obesity, and they’re very vocal to this fact, particularly online. Plus-size models are simply promoting plus-size clothing. I think we can all agree that fat women deserve to clothe themselves with dignity and respect, and we all know these same people would take issue with us walking around naked. Let companies advertise plus-size clothing and mind your business if you don’t like it.”


Lauren Chan

Founder of Henning

Lauren Chan
Carter Fish

“When I started as a plus-size model in 2012, it was great in so many ways. I was struck with so much pride when I’d walk into the Ford models office and see my photo beside Candice Huffine’s, Ashley Graham’s, Precious Lee’s, and Crystal Renn’s. Emotionally and mentally, it was also a reclaiming of all of the bad experiences I had in my life because of my size. But then I’d go to set and they would say, ‘The direction today is Happy Fat Girl.’ Everything was the same no matter what brands you were modeling for or working with. It was always wavy hair, pink lips, a lot of blush, and a big smile. Finally, that’s starting to change and people are understanding that women above a size 12 want to look cool.”


Jane Belfry

Founder of The Btwn

Jane Belfry
Courtesy of Jane Belfry

“I fluctuate weight what feels like every other week and often fall somewhere in between larger straight sizes and smaller plus sizes. And yet even though I worked at a modeling agency, I wasn’t seeing anybody with a variety of body types from within either of those spaces. It was like, Here’s the one ideal of a straight-size model, and here’s the one ideal of a curve model, who is 5’11”, has triple-Ds, and tiny waist. It’s a very specific look, and it didn’t feel like there was room for anybody else. So that’s why I started The Btwn [a modeling agency that represents a range of body shapes and sizes]. I wanted to be able to see things I didn’t see growing up; unretouched images of people in their own element, feeling good with how they look.”


Mama Cax

Model

Mama Cax
Courtesy of Mama Cax

“It’s crazy that in the modeling industry I’m considered plus-size. I’m a size 10, and if I gain a little bit of weight, they put me in the plus-size section. Then the plus girls aren’t getting jobs. In fact, often when brands cast women to sell clothing that’s size 12 and above, the women who are modeling are not those sizes. They extend their size through Photoshop, or they get those women to wear padding so their clothes fit. I have friends who go to castings and are asked, ‘Did you bring your padding?’ [Casting directors] want the skinny face with the curvy body. They’re favored over models who are big all over.”


Anastasia Garcia

Photographer

Anastasia Garcia
Lydia Hudgens

“People with plus-size bodies are kind of automatically labeled as being lazy or lethargic. People think things like, Oh, she’s not going to get the shot, or, Will she be able to make it through the day? I work just as hard on long shoots as any other photographer. Once, an older male makeup artist couldn’t believe I somehow ‘broke into the industry.’ He wouldn’t stop berating me with questions. I haven’t worked with him since, and I’ll never work with him again.”

The Fashion Industry Has a PlusSize Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

Fatphobic language and attitudes are everywhere


Selene Milano

Founder of The Gain and former senior beauty editor

Selene Milano
Selene Milano

“When I started in fashion in 1995, there were no plus-size editors and no mainstream body-positivity movement, and the idea of someone having a bigger body and just being okay with it was unheard of. This was the era of Kate Moss and grunge—there was no such thing as too skinny. While I think we’ve come a long way in banning fatphobic content like before-and-after photos and terms like bikini body, we need to stop assuming every woman wants and needs to lose weight. Thinner thighs in 10 days is not possible, and honestly…who cares? We also still have a lot of work to do in how we speak about other women’s bodies as well as our own. I wish grown women wouldn’t talk incessantly about the latest diet, what food group they are cutting out, and asking each other if they’ve lost weight. It has no place anywhere, but it’s especially offensive in a professional setting.”


Nicole Phillips

Social media manager at 11Honoré

Nicole Phillips
Joy Newell

“In the fashion world we use the word aspirational a lot—whether we’re talking about models, the type of marketing we want, or the kind of imagery we want. Aspirational is often coded language for ‘appropriate.’ With plus women, it means they have to be the appropriate type of fat person. Even when brands started jumping on the body-positivity bandwagon and decided not to use Photoshop and to show cellulite, they only embraced it to a certain point. The models were still a size 14 or 16 with an hourglass. It’s such a self-perpetuating cycle. The fashion industry has to set the bar. We need to see women who carry fat on their arms or stomach, or women who are sizes 24 and 26. If we’re not the ones deeming that aspirational, then who will?”


Maxey Greene

Model

Maxey Greene
Lydia Hudgens

“I was a fit model for a long time. That’s how I got my start. [Editor’s note: Designers cast fit models to check the fit, drape, and appearance of a garment to see what it looks like on a real person before it goes into production.] Some of the things you’d hear as a fit model were pretty rough, like the way [tech designers] talk about big bodies. They’ll say things like, ‘[Plus girls] don’t deserve clothes.’ I think there’s still a belief that designing clothes for fat women cheapens their brand, and they’re afraid of that. But we want to have the pretty things our skinny friends have. That mentality needs to go. Now.


“I thought we’d come a really long way with plus-size fashion—curve models were walking runways, front rows were more size inclusive—until I shot a digital cover with Lizzo for Allure earlier this year. Every designer I reached out to for looks was saying no to me. I was sitting in my office, almost crying at 9 p.m. one night, when Lindsay Peoples Wagner [Teen Vogue‘s editor in chief] walked by and offered to help. But even with both Lindsay and Vogue editors calling designers, I still couldn’t get some of the household names we know and love to dress her—one of the coolest, most famous plus-size women! Luckily we did get some, but it was still very difficult. That was a wake-up call for me. Like, Hey, get out of your bubble thinking we’ve really made true progress, because we have not.” —Kelly Bales, executive director of creative development, video, at Condé Nast and former editorial director of allure.com


Jovanna Albino

Model

Jovanna Albino
Courtesy of Jovanna Albino

“I’ve had stylists say things to me on set when pieces don’t fit, like, ‘Maybe you’ve gained too much weight since your casting.’ I want to say, ‘I’ve been the same size—maybe your garments suck. Maybe your sizing is completely off.’ They clearly booked me and knew my size. So how is it my fault? But because you want to work again, and it’s something plus models hear all the time, you suck it up and smile.”


Alex Waldman

Cofounder and chief creative officer of Universal Standard

Alexandra Waldman
Courtesy of Universal Standard

“Brands that are expanding into plus but only online is actually quite shameful. That feels performative in the sense that you want to make the money that comes with creating larger sizes, but you don’t want bigger women in your store. You see it as a brand risk to be associated with them. I think there are all kinds of ugly things that that implies. We have to hold brands accountable and say, ‘Look, it’s the step in the right direction, there’s no question about that. Thank you for having never done this before and for finally doing something. But if you’re going to do it, do it right. Don’t do it just to your benefit, do it to the benefit of all those women for whom you’re now making clothes.’”

The Fashion Industry Has a PlusSize Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

Off the runway, we still feel invisible at Fashion Week


Tembe Denton-Hurst

Nylon beauty editor

Tembe DentonHurst
Courtesy of Tembe Denton-Hurst

“People don’t necessarily assume I’m an editor when I go backstage. I don’t know what they think an editor looks like. I don’t know if it’s because I’m black or if it’s because I’m fat, but there have been a few times where people have asked me, ‘Are you here to help dress somebody?’ It’s one of those instances where it’s like, Why is this how you perceive me? What is your expectation, and why don’t I meet that expectation? That’s often the question I have in those scenarios.”


“I’ve been going to Fashion Week for years, and street photographers are still a big problem. They literally won’t take a picture [of plus women]. I know I look cute, but it makes you feel like you don’t belong there, or it was a mistake that you were invited to this place. Up until three or four seasons ago when brands began focusing solely on inclusive galleries, I was starting to feel like I didn’t want to go to Fashion Week anymore. People walk past you, or act like you don’t belong there. It wasn’t until designers started including one or two plus models in their shows—or really trying to make sure people know they’re inclusive—that I started getting moved closer to the front row. It’s nice to feel included, but it’s also like, I know I’m just here as a token or a pawn. It’s somewhat more inclusive, but it almost feels like tokenism. It’s a double edged sword.” —Kelly Augustine, owner of August Raye Boutique


Leah Vernon

Model and author

Leah Vernon
Courtesy of Leah Vernon

“One time I was in London during Fashion Week. I wasn’t invited to an actual show, but I was to an after-party you had to RSVP for. I was there with another huge plus-size influencer in Europe, and another plus-size gal who works behind the scenes in the fashion industry. But when we got to the after-party and pulled out our phones to show our RSVP confirmations, the woman didn’t even look. She just said, ‘Sorry, we’re not letting anyone else in. We’re at full capacity.’ People were literally walking out the door as she said it. We pushed back and asked to talk to her manager, where we had to wait five minutes for them to finally let us in. Of course, once we got into the party, it wasn’t close to capacity, and we were the only visibly plus-size women there. Stuff like this happens too often when you’re plus size.”


“At Fashion Week the seats are one long bench, and each ‘seat’ is a piece of 8-by-11 paper with your name on it. And one bum is supposed to go in each of those seats. I used to just move to the back row—and if you’re in fashion, you understand that sitting in the front row is a status symbol. It’s important for your publication, and it’s also important for you as a person. If you want a promotion, if you want to get poached and go work somewhere else, if you want to show that you are as important as the straight-size editor beside you, your potential new editor in chief needs to walk in to that show and see you beside your competition, not in the back hiding. I got to a certain point where I wouldn’t move. I remember one show where I had a quarter of my left butt cheek on the end of the bench, and I did a wall sit without a wall for the entire show. Fashion shows are only five to 10 minutes long, but still, that’s a long fucking squat. I was sweating and shaking, and in my head thinking, I’m not moving.” —Lauren Chan, founder of Henning and former fashion editor

The Fashion Industry Has a PlusSize Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

We’re sick of brands pretending they include us—when they don’t


Shammara Lawrence

Writer

Shammara Lawrence
Heather Hazzan

“Sometimes I’m invited to events, like the launch of a new collection, and there’’s nothing in the line that could fit me or any other plus-size person. My fashion writing revolves around plus sizes, so why would I cover that? Even worse is when a publicist tells me how size-inclusive a brand is only to find out their clothes just go up to a size 18. Newsflash publicists and brands: It’s not! And to suggest otherwise is incredibly offensive—plus size typically starts at a 14/16, so you’re barely even dipping your toes in the plus-size market.”


Tyler McCall

Fashionista editor in chief

Tyler McCall
Getty Images

“I realize that this comes from a huge place of privilege, but gifting [is a real issue]. I’ve always been somewhere between a size 12 and a 14, so anytime brands are gifting and I’m asked for a size, I respond with a range. Some of my favorite responses are, ‘It goes up to a 10, but it’s a roomy 10,” which, cool, thank you. A ‘roomy 10’ is still not my size, and also, what a weird thing to say. I think people mean well—they’re taught that to point out any kind of difference in size is rude. I get it. I often call a medium size the ‘polite large,’ because if I get random mailers from people who haven’t emailed me for my size and they send me a medium, I know they went and looked at my social. They know I’m not a small, but they were scared to send me a large. If they asked, I would’ve said I need a large, and that’s fine.”


Sarah Conley

Writer and founder of Rascal Honey

Sarah Conley
Courtesy of Sarah Conley

“As a size 28, I am consistently pushing the plus-size industry to include larger sizes, which feels extra ridiculous. On a weekly basis I’m approached by brands who want to work with me, and even though I am very open about my size (it’s even in my Instagram bio), I often receive confused and callous replies from brand representatives when I tell them that I’m outside of their size range.”

The Fashion Industry Has a PlusSize Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

An easy fix: Give more plus women a seat at the table


Denise Bidot

Model

Denise Bidot
Joselyn Adams

“When people in the plus community get asked questions [by thin fashion writers], it’s always the same thing. It’s refreshing when people actually care about the problems we face, versus what they think skinny people want to read about fat girls. They’re asking what they think is going to be clickbait, like, ‘What’s the difference between plus-size and curvy?’ There’d be no freaking difference if we had equal access to fashion. [Without more plus reporters], this is how the ripple effect continues.”


Nadia Aboulhosn

Model, designer, and influencer

Nadia Aboulhosn
Courtesy of Nadia Aboulhosn

“One of the biggest challenges I’ve had in the fashion industry is pitching design ideas to brands. They got put off to the side for years because no one wanted to invest in plus. My entire career I’ve tried convincing brands to release plus sizes or take meetings to do collections that make sense for inclusivity. If they just listened to us or took polls on social media, they could be doing better.”


Emily Bibik

Merchant at Old Navy

Emily Bibik
Courtesy of Emily Bibik

“Even though I’m a merchant on our Girls team, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with the Old Navy plus team on customer research. I sit with the team, give them feedback, let them look through the pieces I’ve bought that I like and don’t like. Last year they fit the swimsuit line on me so they could fit in on a variety of bodies. Something we’ve been talking about a lot is the grading of sizes. When you make clothes for plus-size women, you add to the width and the length. And something I’ve given feedback on is as the sizes get wider, they’re getting too long. Nobody wants to look like they’re swimming in something ill-fitting. I told the design team, ‘Can we look at our grading? Because a 4X shouldn’t go down to my feet.’ It was exciting to see them take that and actually implement a change.”


Jen Wilder

Designer of URTÜMUCH

Jen Wilder
Courtesy of Jen Wilder

“The fashion industry needs to do a better job of hiring, promoting, investing in, and training plus-size women to run fashion companies. I cannot tell you the amount of times that I, an actual fat fashionable person, have sat at a table with executives telling me what fat people want to wear. Fashion has a real and true fatphobia problem. Major brands and department stores have entire buying and design teams that aren’t plus-size themselves. You can’t know what the struggles and needs are of plus women if you aren’t in a body that has those needs, and I think it’s a problem that high-ranking opportunities and positions are very rarely held by fat people, much less fat women.”

The Fashion Industry Has a PlusSize Problem. These Women Want to Fix It

But above all: The future of fashion is inclusive


Katie Sturino

Founder of Megababe and influencer

Katie Sturino
Bogdana Ferguson

“When I started doing Make My Size on Instagram [where I’d go into fitting rooms and photograph what the brand’s biggest size looked like on me], I expected a lot of negative feedback. Instead I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from brands like Veronica Beard and even Loft, who just expanded into plus last year. The openness and the willingness for brands to listen has been awesome. It’s just sad to see other brands who don’t step up or don’t even answer.”


Denise Caldwell

Style and beauty expert

Denise Caldwell
Courtesy of Denise Caldwell

“When I was an intern at a high-end publication 10 years ago, I was the only African-American and plus-size person in the fashion department. Now when I visit fashion closets and offices, and even behind the scenes at fashion shows, I see an array of shapes, sizes, and ethnicities represented. Size inclusivity has really gained momentum, and it’s an exciting time to be curvy.”


Jennifer Patterson

PR and strategic partnership manager at Addition Elle

Jennifer Patterson
Courtesy of Jennifer Patterson

“The biggest improvement has been in terms of visibility. Eight years ago, when I started in the industry, no one was talking about plus size. It was an invisible segment of the population—clothing was kept in dingy corners of the store, and the media wasn’t interested in the plus-size market. Over the years the body-diversity revolution has brought plus sizes out of the shadows and into the forefront of our collective consciousness. It’s been amazing it witness it, up-close and personal. As plus-size women, we actually get to see ourselves out there in the world, taking up space and looking fabulous while doing it.”

[“source=glamour”]