Mind the Gap - The Plus Size Chasm
I am angry, and I want to address it.
Maybe it’s because it’s getting to the end of the year, and I am feeling reflective? Maybe it is because I have accessed a lot of resources to help me feel my own emotions effectively this year? Or maybe it is simply because so much of this world is pretty shit?!
Either way, we’re going to get into it.
I am fat. There are a lot of people around the world who are also fat. In the UK the average dress size is 16, and that's a great statistic, but it doesn’t tell us how many people are considered plus size. Fashion united found that the plus-size market (or spend) is forecast to account for 22 per cent of the UK clothing market in 2022. This means that the plus-size market is growing at a significantly faster rate than the rest of the fashion market.
It is worth noting that plus size and average U.K. sizes are all calculated using BMI - so it’s hardly a reliable indicator, but this we’ll save for another post.
Now there is a consensus that more brands are doing more about their sizing. There is a whole slew of brands working on bringing in extended sizing, creating specialist plus ranges and doing more. Yet I can say wholeheartedly that this is NOT ENOUGH.
I say this for one reason. There will always be something in a shop or online that I see, that I cannot have in my size. If you have never experienced this, then lucky you. Being sized out is a shit feeling, and makes you feel worthless.
I was reminded of this, by a TikTok of all things! A casual video of someone popping into Mango, and trying on a great Lilac coat. I loved the colour and the cut, and I went straight to the Mango website, to find that it stops at a UK 16. I’m not sure if it was bones day or not, but I felt deflated the minute I invested in the video’s subject.
Mango has a plus range, which compared to their last offering “Violetta” is an improvement. Yet when I wrote this piece, plus size had 22 coat options, of which only one was not black, navy or tan. Yet in non plus there were over 150 options available in a plethora of colours. If you can’t see how unfair this is, then you need to open your eyes.
I see so many smaller brands working so much harder on their sizing, and making sure that more and more of their offering is available in a full-size range. This is great, it's sustainable, and means we have investment pieces, which is lovely. Yet not everyone has the same access to money, and need less expensive options.
I have long argued that fashion should be open, accessible, and equitable, yet in 2021 it is still none of these things. Mango is not the only culprit. No large brand in the UK has a range available in ALL sizes. Until this is the case, then fashion is not open, accessible, and equitable. I know it requires work, and effort, but fuck it, we the consumer make brands successful, so you owe us.
Fat people should be able to walk into a shop and be able to have anything they want. Having to accept an eighth of a store offering is more than before, but it is still abysmal.
So big brands, what are you doing about this? We’re waiting…
Shot by Rachel Pechey