Friday, September 11, 2009

Dear Fashion World

I think you mean well. And, you know, I appreciate the thought.

But I gotta say, even the best of you have a hard time understanding the plus size body. I'd be happy to help, to work with you.

Let me say this: Not all us plus size chicks want to hide our bodies. Loose sweaters (however "in" the colour or knit is), plain t-shirts, and big coats with no darting or seams are not complimentary. They are shapeless and un-inspired.

Meanwhile I admire and pine after the items I know could be made for me, but aren't. The two following coats would be great in plus size. Perhaps you think we don't want attention, so the red plaid is too much. Or the frills add bulk. But I think of those details like crown molding, wainscoting and other architectural details that take coat from ordinary to amazing.

I then go to my stores and find this:

A bevy of boring, bland peacoats for us plus size beauties to cloak ourselves in. A mediocre effort for structure and lacking any details that make them special. No, these coats will only hide you, not highlight you.

Why, when I shop, do I see bright beautiful prints, bold colours and complicated construction only to discover that none of it is in my size? Is it just a cash issue? I'm willing to pay more for some structure. I'm willing to put some cash down for a pattern that is not 2 seasons out of date. I'm willing to pay for nice fabrics. I appreciate the stretch, honestly. But how about something more then spandex/cotton blends. I'd love a little silk in my wardrobe.

Sometimes I think you forget that we can be sexy. Maybe not the norm or the most popular version of sexy. But we deserve layers of silk, sheer and satin. Some may be modest, but not all.

This little rant stems from some shopping I did today. I live in the city with the world's biggest mall, literally hundreds of stores and yet, I can only find clothes in 6-7 of them. And by find, I mean hunt, gather and scrape together a few decent items each season. A few items which I am genuinely excited about. A few beautiful pieces among a barren wasteland of ill fitting, baggy, frumpy, plain and, dare I say it, old lady-ish clothing.

It's not your fault I'm fat. It's mine. But damned if I should be punished for it with outfits that only hide my body instead of compliment it. I refuse to give up. I refuse to wear sweatpants. Or consign myself to shapelessness.

Maybe it's suppose to be hard.


Special thanks to Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren for at least trying. And to Torrid for giving me a resource to shop, beyond the mall.


Anonymous said...

I really don't want this to sound mean, but I have friends in fashion school... They have to make all their garments in standard size (for fashion), which is 4. And one of their pet peeves is when women tell them to make plus-size clothes.. It's not that they don't care, it's that there's no market in the fashion world for it, outside of low-end brands and plus-size specific stores. To be honest, I don't really understand how all that works. It seems counter-intuitive because there are so many 'plus-size' people now, but in brand names, fashion isn't really dictated by what the average person wants. It's there to create an image that the average person is *supposed* to want. It's a bit awful, but it's there to create demand and the idea of the person you could be if you just bought (fill in the blank) item of clothing. The bottom line is that the fashion industry exists to make money, not to make you feel good about yourself.

Shannon Lambert said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for the comment. I appreciate that you don't intend to sound mean and let me assure you, you don't. You sound more ignorant in this area and you admit yourself that you "don't really understand how all that works."

While I understand the perspective you have on this, mostly gleaned through association with friends in fashion school, try to understand mine as well. I grew up in this industry. I spent my Saturday afternoons at a textiles laboratory dying fabrics for fun. My mother is a designer with a Masters degree in Textiles and Clothing and although I don't work in this industry, it is very much ingrained in me.

You point out part of the problem though. Designers are taught to sew on a size 4 sewing model. For years they learn the art of clothing on the same form. No wonder they can't branch out...the school stifles them from the start.
There are designers who have learned though...Jean Paul Gaultier, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren have all started catering to the plus size market.

I'm not looking for the fashion industry to make me feel good about myself. This is not a self esteem issue. This is a logic issue. I have money to spend. I want to spend that money on clothes that are well made and look good. I don't wait for a designer to tell me what I am *suppose* to want. What I am *suppose* to look like. What I am *suppose* to be. Fuck that. I think it's important to remember that as a consumer, my money is king. Every dollar I spend in a store is a vote. My loyalty to their brand, their look and their style means that I pay for their product.
Fashion is an industry and, like any successful industry, it is going to have to learn to adapt to the wants and needs of it's market. It does not decide what the market wants. The market decides for it and it is the industry's job to fill that role.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my entry.