Friday, June 19, 2009

THICK AND THIN: Sizing up Plus Sizing

You know how it took Britney Spears like, half a millennia, to make her over-glorified comeback? On-lookers waited with fingers crossed and breath baited before she spoke or danced – or god forbid sang – in public; hoping she would be alright this time (simultaneously wondering why we cared), and then she’d go off and shave her head or beat a paparazzo with a golf umbrella. Well, one of the songs she produced whilst bookending the K-Fed era kept re-playing in my head today.

Primarily this one graph from "Piece of Me":

I'm Mrs. Lifestyles of the rich and famous
I'm Mrs. Oh my God that Britney's Shameless
I'm Mrs. Extra! Extra! this just in
I'm Mrs. she's too big now she's too thin
I don’t want to get all serious and women’s rights-y here, but HELL YEAH, BRITNEY. Someone said it. Women are constantly bombarded with conflicting images and messages addressing their physical appearance, especially their weight. And, while there are definitely way too many unhealthily overweight people in the world, the fact is, they weigh what they weigh right now. The fashion industry is slowing recognizing that growing market (no pun intended), not to mention the potential new revenue stream.

For one, Arcadia Group, parent company of Topshop, will soon unveil a collection by musician-turned-Kate Moss-groupie-turned-fashion designer Beth Ditto for Evans, the company’s plus-size division. And just last month, Forever 21 launched Faith 21, a plus-size addition to the store’s collections.

Automatically, my next question is: Who will Forever 21 be thieving designs from for this line? Surely not Ellen Tracey or Ann Taylor – a recent retail report notes that they’re actually dropping plus size production in light of the recession.

This move, however, makes no sense. Follow my logic here: Recession looms –> women indulge in stress-induced pints of Ben & Jerry’s; recession ends –> women need bigger sizes to accommodate results of Chubby Hubby habit. If I were a major retailer, I’d be investing in this market. Would it be wrong of me to suggest "putting your money where your mouth is," or have I gone too far with the food jokes?

While I’m not a major fan of Ditto, I would love to see a line co-produced by the likes of Crystal Renn – or heck, even Mia Tyler, if she promises to avoid appearing in future VH1 reality shows. Alas, the latest buzz around plus sizing could merely be a ploy to derail naysayers in their next crusade against anorexic runway models. Only time will tell.

Photo credit: Photgrapher Luis Sanchis for Australian Harper's Bazaar, April 2009.

1 comment:

Andres L. Ortega said...

Certainly the crusade for bigger sized models in the industry is no new effort. I'm sure you heard about British Vogue Editor, Alexandra Shulman's latest plea with the high end fashion world to stop size zeros.

If not, here's a link provided by the good folks at