The customer is now the fashion activist. The size 4 fashion monologue has become a genuine size-inclusive dialogue, with millions of women around the world echoing their support through comments, likes, and shares. And major fashion brands are finding it much harder to ignore.
The first curvy model sashayed her way down a catwalk in the 1970s, and since then the world of fashion has oh-so-slowly and very grudgingly started to shift.
By the 90s we were seeing a clear stereotype, in which larger ladies were able to buy some clothes in their size, but only if they wanted big and boxy. And they were OK with shopping in a completely different section.
Even when brands actually offered larger sizes, they often stuck to dark colours and shapeless fits with caftans and muumuus everywhere. Nothing sexy to be seen. The message was clear—they were here to cover you; not let you celebrate yourself.
That was 30 years ago, and women above a size 14 or so STILL struggle to find quality, fashionable, sexy clothing. These ladies represent more than half of shoppers, so why are they/we being ignored?
Some people in the fashion industry believe the problem runs deeper—women above a certain size aren’t being hired to work in influencer positions in high-fashion, and without representation, it’s easier to stick with what they’ve always done.
How social media has pushed inclusive sizing
The good news is that we’re finally starting to see a big shift. Social media has wholly transformed the world of fashion, offering a voice and visibility to those very women the fashion world has previously ignored.
Because when designers don’t actually work directly with women who represent every size, they don’t know what they need and want. Period.
With influencers of every size now able to open an Instagram account and shout it out loud, it’s much tougher to put them in a (dark and oversized) box.
We’re seeing gorgeous, curvy ladies celebrating their bodies in mini skirts and bikinis, and the fashion world is waking up and realising the market not only exists, it’s booming. (And I’m proud to be one of them!)
We are finally seeing pictures of women over a size 16/18 dressing the same way a size six-woman dresses, and they look fabulous.
Mainstream labels are answering the call
The rise of influencers like my faves Ashley Graham (@ashleygraham), Ariella Nyssa (@ariellanyssa), Annaliese gann (@annaliesegann) and Stefania Ferrario (@stefania_model) are speaking to a more diverse audience, and brands all over the world are waking up to these calls for more representation.
Designer Christian Siriano, whose killer gowns sell for 4 figures, is one of those leading the size-inclusive charge. He has called out other fashion houses, saying inclusive sizing is harder, but ‘not that hard.’
He is one of many designers committed to changing the future of fashion sizing from the top down. As more and more household names embrace the call, it’s obvious that inclusive sizing isn’t a frill; it’s a necessity.
So what’s the hold-up?
Embracing actual inclusive sizing is not without its challenges (we know them all firsthand!), but it is fully possible.
Brands will have to invest in additional designing, manufacturing, customer research, and more. There will be additional costs for changing inventory, reorganising shops, and marketing.
But all this will be rewarded by the customers who are finally getting what they’ve been wanting for so long.
If I can do it as a new mum who was just frustrated that I couldn’t find good undies in my size, then they can do it.
We are so proud of our size-inclusive range at ELC, and we are working hard behind the scenes to extend our sizing even further very soon. It’s amazing to see big players in the fashion industry finally getting on board with it too.
One day we will all be able to walk into any shop and get the same clothes off the same racks.
Inclusivity is fashion’s future in fashion, and brands that don’t get on board may not be around in the long term.
Join the discussion on our socials!