I should probably head this with I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT FASHION! I CAN’T EVEN MATCH COLORS, I’M ONLY A MAN WHO LIKES TO DRINK SCOTCH AND PLAY VIDEO GAMES. HAVE MERCY ON ME.
Everyone remembers the Hollister CEO statement earlier this year, and of course there was an outrage, and everyone bombed him in the media for it. BUT he brought light to an interesting topic. Now i will happily go on record voicing my own opinion that, while his view IS pretty harsh, and it really attacks larger customers, He’s just having the guts to say outright what has been a common assumption for years.
That’s not the point of this post though, The point is that:
A. i can see very good reasons why current designers DON’T just make their clothing in bigger sizes.
B.Plus sized consumers CAN be made to look good, even GREAT. case and point Alex Borstein (shown above.)
C. There is a great deal of money to be made in the Plus size clothing industry, and current clothing designers just can’t do it.
Alright so in order,
A. if you really sit down and think about it there are TONS of reasons why current designers stick with Supermodel sized clothing. First and Foremost, it’s what they’re good at. Breaking away for a second, i realized like most of my posts, a great comparative illustration can be found with cars. Have you Noticed that Lamborghini has never designed a small, economical, fuel efficient vehicle, or Ferrari have never made a big Van that seats eight comfortably? There’s great reason for that, Those two companies are KNOWN for their prowess making beautiful, powerful, sporty cars that look are more likely to be on posters and calendars than in your driveway. All they know is V10’s and vicious styling, if they came out with a ferrari 458-four cylinder 45-mpg edition, do you think of anyone would buy them? NO because as soon as you turn the key everyone will know that your car has the engine of a honda civic and laugh at you. It’d be a disgrace to you, anyone awkwardly watching as your car whimpers away, and to the Ferrari badge itself.
That’s what the big name fashion designers are, they are the Ferrari’s, the Lamborghini’s, the Zonda’s. They know one thing, and they do that one thing extremely well. Much in the same way as shaping a car around a tiny two seat frame and a giant engine, Fashion designers are presented with the female frame. As many of you may have noticed from being… alive… these come in a vast variety of shapes and sizes, and as such different shapes need to be complimented differently. (as mentioned above i know very little about fashion but this is pretty straight forward.) When working with a tiny model ( We’ll reference 0’s here because 00’s look scary) you want to use thin, tight, form fitting fabric that shows off every favorable curve that model’s got. Sharply curving aggressive lines are to create that ideal figure, or more so just follow the one that the model already has. Fashion designers are EXCELLENT at this, they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years.
So we’ve established that the current top clothing designers are great at making the “ideal image” woman look great. nobody can contest that. Things change though when you have a larger consumer base, When you work on clothing for larger people, the recipe for success is exactly opposite. With a larger model especially into the “more” plus sizes, there are bound to be places were you don’t want your clothing to PRECISELY contour to every curve of your body. ( We’ve all seen that horrifically obese person in a wet T-Shirt at the pool or water park, sorry to remind you of it.) In plus size clothing the name of the game is to compliment the frame, while smoothing out the edges, to give a nice smooth shape that compliments the consumer’s frame best.
Do you see the issue with up-sizing now? Clothing DESIGNED for skinny people, just really won’t look as good on you as something made for your own size. Face it girl, I’m sorry.
B Not fitting into the “ideal image” can never EVER mean you’re not beautiful, Earlier i Mentioned Alex Borstein, I’m really not sure what size she actually is, but she really does look just fantastic. She doesn’t do it by wearing tight clothing and showing a lot of skin like is common in the usual model industry, she does it by dressing conservatively, but in such a way that still shows off her figure, and i really applaud that. There are tons of “plus size” models you can page through on google images, and they look great, why? because they’re wearing clothing MADE FOR THEM.
That’s why nobody who ever buys that designer prom dress ever looks qquiiiite as good as the model does with it on in the catalog. That refers to ALL sizes of women by the way. That’s because that dress was painstakingly sized and sized and tailored and stitched SPECIFICALLY for that girl in the picture until it looked flawless. and then it was probably photo shopped further after the picture was taken. Welcome to the digital age where the “ideal form” doesn’t even really exist.
C. So I think there is a great deal of money to be made at least in the women’s plus size clothing industry, And that the current top designers are NOT the ones that will be doing it. There are many reasons i say this, and in no particular order, here are a few i thought of off the top of my head.
– It’s just not what they’re good at, First and Foremost these top designers got where they are by pushing the envelope and working with the most perfect models they could find. They’re only used to making clothing for that particular shape of women, and when they try to change things up the results just aren’t that great. Back to cars again, If Ferrari’s exec’s came into the shop and told them, “listen, it’s not our usual thing, but i want a van that can haul a decent amount of things, gets decent gas mileage, and is extremely comfortable inside.” assuming they would actually manage to PRODUCE such a thing, It would be big and bulbous, I’d imagine something like a 360 Modena that had a life raft inflated inside it. The suspension would be rock solid from all the weight, you probably couldn’t go over speed bumps, and i can’t even describe how out of place whatever engine they’d choose to use in it would be.
The designers could prove me wrong, but even if they were to prove me wrong, they couldn’t honestly say that it isn’t COMPLETELY different from what they are used to.
– The fat-line complex. This is a term i just made up a few seconds ago, but i think it sums up the issue very handily. I’m going to compare to Toyota here. (before you read anymore of this sentence i want you to think of a few words that describe the image of Toyota today.) Before the announcement of the Toyota Prius, Toyota was known as a brand of all around excellent cars with great quality, that are cheap to maintain, and are very reliable. They had a full range of vehicles from compacts, to sports cars. ( The silvia, the soarer, the supra, to name a few in case you weren’t aware of any.) From Luxury sedans to minivans, to full sized pickups, they had a finger in every market. Then the prius came out, and the yaris as well. What did you think of when i asked what you thought Toyota stood for today? Did you say eco friendly? slow? cheap? chincy? ( that’s pronounced chin-sy’, not chinky, it means cheaply built,has nothing to do with asian influence.) Toyota still makes all those cars, from the Corolla up to the Tundra. The point i’m hoping to illustrate is how much impact a single product can have on an entire company’s image. Fortunately for Toyota the Prius was a pretty large success, but it might not have been, and even though it was a financial success, The prius is STILL heavily looked down upon especially my car enthusiasts. The Toyota Prius was like Toyota’s “green line” The prius was a risk that both paid off, and bit them at the same time. I think a similar stigma would be created in the designer clothing industry, Women would be self conscious of buying clothing from the designer’s “fat- line” and supporters of the designers run the risk of disliking that ” there are clothes with the same labels as mine for fat people”, destroying the exclusivity/ status symbol image that Designers have worked very hard to create.
– the Risk to the designer’s image. Again much like cars, the value a designer has, is in his/her name. Georgio Armani is such a highly held brand because every single design he releases is up to his standards, so whenever someone buys a suit with those little Armani markings on it, they can be proud to say it’s an Armani. The same goes for Dulce and Gabana, and Loius Vitton. Every new item that a designer produces is a huge risk that they are taking. That brand is like their seal of approval. The focal points of designer items are often different, whether they stand for their style, quality, or even exclusivity, Their name is still behind it and that’s all they have really. That being said, the affectionately self titled “fat-line complex” is a very real thing. Some people hold more value in the designer name than others, and of course when you are wearing that piece of clothing you are representing that name. For those women who wear only designer clothing and fit the slim figure they usually produce for, if they see a new line of clothing from a designer come out for plus sized women, I’d bet my bottom dollar that it’d be looked down upon by the current consumers of that brand. (no offense women, but some of you are crazy like that.) Any negative view on a designer brand can have pretty disastrous effects on the value people place in that brand. So naturally, if you’re a fashion designer, it’s a very dangerous move for you to release a line of clothing for people with fuller figures.
What we need now isn’t for ferrari and lamborghini to start making suv’s. We need people like Lincoln and Caddilac A company who SPECIALIZES in making luxury Sedans and big SUV’s. What needs to emerge is a new proud brand that makes those of us with fuller figures look his or her very best. Now we just need to find someone to play that part and make alot of money, anyone interested?