Before we talk about how things have changed, especially for the better in plus-size fashion, we have to know the journey so far.
IN THE PAST: For a long time, little or no attention was paid to the fashion needs of the plus-size woman. Initially, in the 1800s, the ideal body was the curvy one. You were more appealing and sought out if you had a chubby body. But that didn’t last very long, for, before the 1900s, beauty standards began to come into play.
Clothing brands decided that they would not have more than four different size ranges. Meaning if you were plus-size or pregnant, there was no provision for you; you had to wear baggy, unflattering clothes.
However, a dressmaker named Lena Bryant would be remembered as the person who started the first plus-size clothing line in 1904. She was asked by a pregnant client to make a comfortable, yet presentable dress to wear in public. Lena made her a dress with an elastic waistband, and before you know, it became the bestselling design in her shop.
In the 1920s, Lena saw that there was a gap in the market. The full-figured women had nothing for them in fashion, so she went ahead and measured about 4,500 of her customers and came up with a plus-size clothing range. Today that shop is a brand known as ‘Lane Bryant.’ It caters solely to the plus-size woman. Amazing right?!
Due to Bryant’s success, more plus-size brands started to surface in the ’80s. Forgotten woman (a very fitting name), sold high-end evening wear but it filed for bankruptcy and closed after 20years. There is also Marina Rinaldi, which was also one of the first high-end clothing brands for the plus-size woman. They currently have a vast range of clothing sizes for all body types.
NOW: Until recently, the plus-size section had been completely ignored by a lot of brands. It used to be sacrilege to even think of including the plus-size range in your brand. But as there started to be a call for action and representation, a lot of brands have begun to do what needed to be done a long time ago- include plus-size ranges, even, plus-size modelling is on the rise.
As the years go by, we see more representation of plus-size women in the fashion industry. Size ranges, plus-size models and brands now show the inclusivity that has finally penetrated the market.
Although so many women wear plus-size clothes and the rate of growth of the market in general, the plus-size industry is still a small entity under the main fashion industry. The media has played a role in marginalizing plus-size women due to the portrayal of standards that are impossible to achieve, making us believe that there is an ideal body type and anything else is sub-par.
If plus-size is defined as a size larger than average, and the average woman is a size 14 (which is where plus size begins). Who then says that plus-size isn’t normal?
It hasn’t been an easy journey, but giant strides have been made. The future is bright. The future is for the plus-size!
Photo Credit: alibaba