Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Plus Size Is The New Black

For years the fashion industry has only hired skinny models to market their clothing. The thought process being that the clothes and not the model are what are on display. Women with large breasts, stomachs and behinds would take away from the clothing. That seems like a logical argument except for the fact that the average woman is not model size and perhaps she would like to see how a particular designer's clothing would look on her. This would be a valid argument for hiring more realistic looking models.

In the modeling world a plus-sized model is any woman above a size six. However, in the real world plus-sized is anything above a size 12. Fashion designers are starting to take notice of the plus-sized market as more plus-sized models are appearing in both print and television ad as well as on the runway. Now that women are becoming more vocal about wanting to see more realistic representations on the runway as well as in print ads the fashion industry is starting to take notice and respond to those arguments. It seems only natural that the plus-sized model does not have a greater role in the fashion industry. After all, designers, retailers and department stores generally ignore the plus-sized market. However, women are becoming more educated about what a realistic body type looks like and things are starting to change.

Recently, plus- sized models were represented at London’s fashion week with their own plus-sized fashion weekend. The show came under some scrutiny because while the models were very curvy the clothing that was presented was not what most people would consider plus-sized. Many people even go as far as saying that the term plus-sized is derogatory. Only 13 designers were represented at the plus-sized fashion weekend but that is primarily because the main attraction was London fashion week where skinny girls were the norm.

There are some studies that show that having plus-sized models actually helps to boost body image. In the same manner that young girls read fashion magazines and become depressed because they do not look like the women in the magazines, girls can now see models that look like the average woman looking beautiful and that boost their self-esteem. Many agencies have started hiring more plus-sized models as the demand for advertising plus-sized clothing increases. Some of the larger agencies actually have divisions that specialize in plus-sized models. For example, Ford 12+ Division and Wilhelmina ten20 Division are offspring of other large agencies.  

It is about time that the fashion industry starts to use more plus-sized models and recognize the buying power of the plus-sized segment. Many normal sized and curvy women are turning away from the larger fashion houses and toward small boutiques and 
relatively unknown designers because they are committed to producing quality clothing at an affordable price for the average woman. These obscure fashion shows like the one during London’s fashion week will continue to spring up. Hopefully, one day we will see runways with all different body types represented and clothing that everyone can wear.