Fat Girls are still being ignored by fashion companies

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Last week fashion columnist Christina Binkley made a video that appeared on the Wall Street Journal. She had some very telling things to say about plus sized clothing being positioned on the margins of the fashion industry.

“’Young fashion lovers have been demanding at an almost revolutionary pace, they have been screaming, “We want fashion, we want short shorts and miniskirts and all the trendy looks.”‘ And bluntly enough, she asserted that one of the main reasons that a lot of fashion companies don’t bite is because they ‘don’t want to be associated with ‘fat.’”

She’s absolutely correct. The truth is, consumers of plus sized fashion are already spending more money on clothes than our thinner peers.

“…online retailer ModCloth found that its plus customers buy 17 percent more items per order, and spend 25 percent more per order than straight size shoppers.”

This is a trend that can be found across the board. I buy a lot of my clothing from Target because it is cheaper than going to stores like Lane Bryant (Target’s clothes are also more youthful, in my opinion.) But even still, the clothes in their misses and juniors’s sections are cheaper still. But that doesn’t stop me from often finding that the styles I like are sold out in my size. Why? Because plus size clothes are in high demand! And this is how we know that the relationship between fashion and fat girls is problematic. Fashion companies are willing to sacrifice the revenue they would make by catering to a more diverse group of bodies in order to distance themselves from fat people.

“…even with that buying power, manufacturers are still tone deaf when it comes to plus. When ModCloth decided to expand its plus-size offering, it asked its 1,500 vendors to consider making larger sized clothes. And out of those 1,500, only 35 volunteered to do so. Thirty-five out of ONE THOUSAND AND FIVE HUNDRED VENDORS. And after only a year or so in existence, The Limited inexplicably shut down it’s plus line, Eloquii earlier this year.”

The effects of this are stores like Torrid, which sells terrible quality clothing items are unreasonable prices because they are one of the few stores in the US that cater to young plus sized buyers. While I thank them for helping me find a dress at the last minute or completing my fall wardrobe with the perfect sweater, I would be remiss not to mention the fact that more than half of the items I’ve purchased from there have torn, ripped, or broken after a single wear.

But this is the direct result of a lack of in-store options for people looking for youthful plus sized clothes (Luckily for us online plus shoppers, there’s asos.com).

Fashion companies: get your shit together and make us quality clothing! Preferably a khaki skirt that I can wear this summer. I’ve been trying to find one for 2 years!

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Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/dkeane16/ Deirdre

    simplybe.com is pretty great too! It can be expenisve, and shipping takes awhile because it’s a UK website, but their clothes are nice, and they have pretty great sales! And if you’re lucky enough to have a larger forever21 store near you their plus size section is usually pretty great. Fashion to figure is kind of hit and miss. And like the article said, target is pretty fantastic.
    I also check tumblr reguarly for reccomended sites. A lot of curvy girl fashion tumblrs reguarly post links for plus size retailers.

    • http://feministing.com/members/angelh/ Angel H.

      Where are these Target stores with the awesome plus-size selection? I’ve been to 2 different Targets in my area where they had stowed clearance racks full of clothes from the misses and juniors section. There were more X-smalls than there were 3Xs!

  • http://feministing.com/members/daniellemk/ Danielle

    YES! Torrid sells Wet Seal quality clothes at Macy’s prices. Its fucking insane!

  • http://feministing.com/members/franziakafka/ Franzia Kafka

    A couple years ago, I was heavier and buying plus-sized clothes. I absolutely agree that plus-sized stuff is matronly and ages you ten years. My mom, also on the fat side, accurately describes most plus-sized clothes as “tents,” and refuses to wear the shapeless items that are basically designed to hide your body ashamedly under layers of fabric.

  • http://feministing.com/members/jackys/ Jacky

    Effectively saying “I don’t want your money” to a whole lot of potential customers doesn’t seem like a good business strategy. I love modcloth.com and think they’re a great example that “being associated with fat” doesn’t hurt your brand and that your brand can actually benefit from that association.

    I’m not plus sized myself, but try to only purchase my own clothes from retailers who offer a wide range of sizes. If certain designers don’t want to listen to actual plus sized consumers, maybe they’ll pay attention if enough of their existing consumer base starts to only patronize retailers who offer sizes for every body.

  • http://feministing.com/members/analyrically/ Y

    Another option for shopping for plus fashions online is anniethek.com. “Respect yourself and the clothes you wear,” Annie says. “I am concerned that there is not enough clothing available in the market for women in sizes 14-24 that is tasteful, stylistically adventurous and made in fine fabrics with expert construction techniques.”