Monday, March 9, 2009
Plus Size Clothing
Recently, there has been a bit of a raucous about the fact that many clothing designers do not design for the 'average American woman' who these days happens to weigh 162 pounds and is overweight. This is something like 60% or more of the female population, so why aren't fashionistas tapping into this undertapped market? Does high fashion (or even regular fashion) necessitate having a smaller physique? Which leads to the question...can anyone whose body is overweight or obese truly ever look fashionable in the eyes of the fashion community? Does fashion rely so much on the body? I am inclined to 'weigh in' on this issue, but will somewhat refrain. It does raise a number of questions for me, not just about using clothing as a tool to regulate health/nutrition, but also about fashion: Does fashion necessarily hinge and rely on the framework of a svelte physique? Can a plus-sized woman be considered 'fashionable'? How does a canvas of art vary so widely in our definition of beauty, but body image usually stop at the slim and trim?
The LA Times ran a piece recently on this mentality that I admittedly at least used to adhere to at times. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this 'issue' these days. Full article can be found here. And here is some takeaway:
Designers whose bread and butter rests on their ability to create an aura of cool exclusivity (basically, the bulk of designers seen on the runway, save brands with lifestyle extensions, such as Michael Kors and Calvin Klein) worry that sallying into the market will dilute their brand's mystique and, ultimately, their sales.
Prada designer Miuccia Prada may have had these concerns in mind when she stated that she would not sell clothes over a size 10. And it's on these loftiest of perches that the hypocrisy of the fashion industry seems most glaring. Some of the world's most lauded designers and fashion critics are -- or have at one time been -- too broad in the beam to fit a leg into the designs they create and coo over.
Still, compassion is in short supply. When Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, who spent most of his adult life battling a serious weight problem, created a capsule collection for H&M in 2004, the newly svelte designer was incensed that the retailer manufactured the collection in larger sizes. "What I designed was fashion for slender and slim people," he said. And in an interview in the March issue of Harper's Bazaar, he sniffed, "The body has to be impeccable . . . if it's not, buy small sizes and less food." Issues, indeed.