Fashion Startups Suck at Plus Size

Fast fashion, as you’re well aware, is the devil. Startups
eager to snatch dollars dropped by customers looking to spend
their money elsewhere have recognized this fact. Brands like
Everlane and Reformation are startups looking to disrupt
clothing for everyone—but they’re leaving plus-size customers
in the dust, as Amanda Mull
writes
in Racked.

Many of the CEOs Mull spoke to urged patience for plus-size
customers eager to spend their money on
aggressively basic cashmere sweaters
and
floral dresses meant to be worn sans brassiere.
Everlane,
for example, refused to answer Mull in person, but instead
forwarded a statement, saying “We need to launch plus as a
separate brand with new fits, new models and new fabrics to
ensure that the styles fit and look great. As we gain scale and
get new customers, we will be able to focus our energy on
launching this line.”

This excuse, Mull writes, points to a distressing attitude held
by many clothing manufacturers and brands who are now finally
starting to address the cries of consumers who just want to
wear plain sweaters and quietly fashionable jeans like the rest
of the world: “Women over a certain size are always a burden,
never a priority. They’re expected to wait while others are
served first.” Bra companies like True & Co purport to be
the one solution for a wide variety of bodies, but when pressed
as to why they only offer up to a 38DD, they offered an
explanation similar to that of Everlane’s: it takes time and
careful consideration to craft clothes for larger bodies, so
please be patient.

While it’s certainly true that crafting a plus-size line from
scratch takes time—the same amount of time a straight-size line
might—the fact that none of these companies thought to consider
women over a size 12 or 14 is befuddling. Plus-size clothing
accounts for an astonishing
10 percent
of retail sales. Some online retailers have
caught up—Universal
Standard’
s clothing starts at a size 10, runs up to a 28,
and treats having a wide range of sizes as standard—but a lot
of the places that one can buy a wide range of plus size
clothing don’t sell the kind of basics that Everlane does or
floaty floral dresses for effortlessly cool Silver Lake sirens
like Reformation.

I’m a size 16-18-?? with a body that will occasionally
cooperate with straight size clothing, but really feels more
comfortable in plus. The hours I have spent with a measuring
tape against my body and comparing it to the measurements of
Reformation or Everlane’s largest size are hours that I will
never get back. I know what works on my shape and I know where
to find it, but reconciling that knowledge with my desire is
sometimes difficult.

most plus size clothes are
faintly matronly—shift dresses and blouses designed for a woman
who adheres to a strict code of “business casual” even on the
weekends

Women of a certain size and shape have bodies that, if you look
at the clothing largely available to them, are either meant to
be contained or shrouded in in yards and yards of shapeless
poly blends. While there are a few exceptions (Universal
Standard and some of ASOS’s
Curve
offerings), most plus size clothes are
faintly matronly
—shift dresses and blouses designed for a
woman who adheres to a strict code of “business casual” even on
the weekends. No shade to Eloquii, who consistently provides a
huge variety of clothing in a range of sizes for every
occasion, but you would be hard pressed to find just a boxy tee
absent of ill-conceived ruffles or peplums. It all feels very
What Not To Wear—one imagines the spectre of Stacy
London in the corner brandishing a wide belt, meant to nip in
the waist and screeching about bright colors, to distract from
the shape and size of the body in front of them.

What’s the most infuriating about clothing startup’s refusal to
address the desires of plus-size shoppers is that the clothing
that remains speaks volumes about what fat women are expected
to dress like. Curves are to be embraced; clothing should be
sexy and shiny and lowcut—all the better to distract from the
shape and size of the body it’s covering. Mull points out that
the fashion startup industry’s complete disregard for the needs
of this customer base speaks to “the worst, most dehumanizing
stereotypes about fat people—that they’re lazy, slovenly and
stupid.” Selling short an entire community of people willing
and eager to part with their money in exchange for the same
kind of clothing everyone else has access to is frankly
stupid—like setting piles of money on fire and walking away
from it. Who knows if they’ll ever see the light?

Read the entire piece
here
at Racked.

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