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Plus-Size Revolution!

Friday, August 22, 2008

As regular readers of the Yours blog will know, I have often championed Trinny and Susannah as well as Gok Wan to be great advocates for the plus size lady. Last week, the two ‘fashionistas’ excelled themselves in taking the plight of plus size women in the fashion world to an even higher level. Their ITV show ‘Trinny and Susannah Undress the Nation” was entirely dedicated to women of size 16 and above who find shopping for fashion not only a struggle but also a disheartening experience.

To fully understand how difficult it can be to find the right balance between flattering and fashionable when shopping for plus-size clothes, the pair donned body suits in order to become a size 20 and then hit the shops with two women also of this size. It was apparent that neither Trinny nor Susannah realised just how little choice there is on the high-street for the forty-five percent of British women who wear a size 16 or above. This revelation encouraged them to tackle the issue head on and invite representatives from major high-street fashion retailers to a catwalk show of the best, and more importantly the worst of what the high-street has to offer. The models the duo employed were all real plus-size women who were clearly tired of feeling excluded. As one lady commented, when it comes to the fashion world she felt as if she was “on the outside looking in”. Having proven that there was a real need for improvement, designers from the London College of Fashion were asked to use the plus-size models in order to produce a collection of flattering plus- size fashion to present to the high-street retailers.

Throughout the hour long show, several points seemed to reoccur. Perhaps the most shocking, is that very few high-street retailers actually stock more than a handful of lines in a size 16 and above and in some cases, even a size 14 is hard to come by! Those who do offer plus-size clothing should certainly not feel smug however. It seems that it is deemed quite acceptable in the fashion world to ‘grade-up’ a size ten top in order to cater for a fuller figure. As Trinny and Susannah proved using their plus size volunteers, this is simply not acceptable. Garments such as a high-neck ruffle mini dress are offered to customers in sizes 8 to 20 in the exact same form! Surely as market leaders these high-street stores should realise that a size 20 lady would not suit this kind of dress?! Excuses such as budget restrictions and lack of demand were used to defend these retailers. Considering forty-five percent of the country is a size 16 or above there is clearly not a lack of demand. Another key issue which was brought up by the women interviewed throughout, was that plus-size clothing is rarely fashionable and more often than not, ‘tent’ shaped tops dominate the choice they are given. I’m pleased to say that having been named and shamed and introduced to alternative designs of plus-size tops specifically produced for the fuller figure, the retailers conceded that more attention should be paid to this under-represented market.

From this very interesting and positive show, I came to thinking how we at Yours approach the issue of designing fashion led products for the plus-size figure. As I mentioned, Trinny and Susannah were particularly concerned that retailers ‘grade up’ their smaller sizes in order to offer clothing to their plus-size customers. That is something that we at Yours are firmly against. As our sizes start at a 14-16, we exclusively design our clothes for fuller figures. As for the issue of ‘tented tops’ and a lack of fashion-led design in the plus-size market, being plus-size specialists we know what suits our customer and our design team ensure that they keep their eye on all up and coming fashion trends to produce our fashionable range of plus-size clothing. We use this combined knowledge to offer the customer stylish and up to date fashion designed specifically with their shape in mind. So, in conclusion, while Trinny and Susannah are right to point out the problems plus-size women face when shopping for fashion, we are pleased to see that the issues they brought up in their show are issues which we at Yours have worked hard to address for many years. As a result, we continue to offer plus-size women a confidence-boosting pleasurable shopping experience and up-to-date fashion all year round.

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