It seems like only yesterday that we the fats let out a collective audible *GASP* when ASOS announced first announced their Curve range. Fast forward 7 years and despite a few general company financial hiccups, the Curve range still remains one ASOS’s biggest earners and is in general one of the frontrunners when it comes to the plus size fashion scene in the UK.
There is no denying that fat fashion in the UK has come in leaps and waves over the last 10 years, thanks to not only the increase in plus-size influencers and models online, but the plus-size activists, writers and advocates who have lobbied, shouted for, and created productive conversations with brands surrounding the need for extended clothes sizes.
The average dress size in the UK is a size 16, and according to PwC data, the plus-size market is growing at a significantly faster rate than the rest of the fashion market, being forecast to grow at a pace of 5-6% per annum compared to 4-5%for womenswear over the next few years. By 2022, it is projected that the UK plus-size clothing market will be worth at least 9 billion pounds.
Despite the positive projections and the obvious increasing demand for fat fashion, it still feels as if we’re in a bit of a rut and causes me to ponder what the future could potentially hold for the industry. We are currently living in a conscious scope where sustainable fashion is at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds, however, with what we’ve seen recently regarding the fast fashion acquisitions of some of Britain’s most longstanding heritage brands, I’m not really holding out much hope for a Boohoo plus size sustainable range anytime soon.
In the past, I’ve written about the difficulties of shopping for fat sustainable fashion, and why fat people tend to spend their money with fast-fashion brands. Obviously, fast-fashion is problematic on a global scale and we are seeing a huge shift in brands wanting to be a lot more ethical but equally, fast fashion has been some of the only brands to offer fat clothes in a somewhat trendy way. There is a lot of shaming surrounding it, but for a lot of us, we are unable to shop the slow alternative due to the garments being way too expensive or not fitting correctly.
In 2021, we are slowly seeing an increase in sustainable brands who cater to bigger sizes which is great, but we still find ourselves trying to achieve the golden ratio of having 1) a trendy, youth-led brand who 2) make plus size clothing in an array of sizes that is also 3) affordable. The vast majority of fat, sustainable clothing I’ve seen either seem to be very niche (think Rockabilly aesthetic, 60’s pin-up, raver chic), or very….safe (think cold shoulders, loads of knitwear, ‘sensible’ trousers, modest wear). Moving forward, it would be amazing if some of these sustainable brands could consider collaborating with fat fashion influencers or designers who have an eye for what those in the 20-35 age bracket would want to wear.
Sustainability aside, the industry has become stagnant of late, due to the current global pandemic, so it’s no surprise that we aren’t seeing as many new drops as we previously saw. Athleisure pieces within the plus-size realm have soured sky-high, however. Brands such as Nike, Puma, Ellesse, Adidas have continued added bigger sizes to their ranges and have seen massive growth over the last year.
With all this being said, I really hope that over the next year or so, brands start to take stock of the huge market they are missing out on by refusing to cater to bigger bodies. In a way, they are the architects of their own misfortune as these brands are literally leaving big money on the table due to the prejudice against bigger bodies.
I did manage to kind a few silver linings within the fat fashion scope, however. Bear in mind that even though these are minor changes, it’s still a step in the right direction:
- New Look now goes up to a size 32
- SavagevFenty lingerie have increased their sizing in SOME items since their second drop. They still have a long way to go regarding their bras.
- I recently discovered a newish UK plus size brand called The Hour. They specialise in luxury, minimal pieces, and while their clothing isn’t to my personal style (or BANK ACCOUNT), it could be a good option for my fat, wealthy babes looking for an outfit.
- Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Diane Von Gustenberg, Erdem, The Row and Ganni offer their designs up to a size 22. Look, I know. This is still a bit shit. But I’ll take a size 22 over what it used to be, which was probably a size 14 at the most. There is still a long way to go!
What can brands/the industry do, looking forward?
- Collaborate and create collections with fat people in the industry more often.
- Stop using cheaper material to make plus-sized clothes.
- INVEST in creating plus size clothing instead of using a half-hearted approach. Stop producing plus-sized clothes based on pre-existing, straight-sized collections.
- Lean into the fact that this year’s fashions have been rooted in athleisure, sleepwear and loungewear. Use these trends to boost your plus clothing and create some awesome styles/prints.
- When/if the world opens up again, take a tip from the house of SavagevFenty and fat people in catwalks! Ad campaigns! CONTINUE to give us the visibility we deserve.
- Start/continue using larger fat people in your campaigns. We the consumers want to see fat women of different ethnicities and abilities wearing your clothes. We want to see non-hourglass shaped women. We want to see stretchmarks, hyperpigmentation and rolls. We want to see those who are a size 26+
- This is an absolute fucking shameless plug, but collaborate with me on a plus-sized capsule collection because it has been my dream to create a line of clothes for the fats ok tysm xxx