I’ve been advertising some of my fashion lines on Etsy as multi-size. But the shoots tend to be with size 10 models. So even though I list multi-size garments you don’t see it on the images. Is this a barrier to encouraging curvier customers to purchase? I see a lot of it on Etsy and on the high street as well.
Articles like this worry me. Do larger dress size girls want to see garments on bigger models to want to buy? Or are we supposed to be buying into an idealised version of what we will look like when we step out of the changing room?
Shooting on real high street bodyshapes is not a new concept and I really don’t get why retailers and customers are still struggling with this. Be realistic about what you are. It makes for less disappointing shopping trips.
I thought about it a lot more when I saw the latest M&S campaign. You see, it’s all very snappy and up to the minute (as all M&S campaigns strive to be) but there is one glaringly obvious thing about them – no plus size. Where did they all go? Is the brand reverting back to standard formats because they didn’t reach their magic customer balance?
Clearly their last campaign didn’t achieve what was expected of it. Older and curvier are clearly being pushed out. So much for supporting the British woman. I knew it wouldn’t last
A few weeks ago I completed my first plus size fashion shoot (darn that’s taken an age to sort!). I am more than ever acutely aware of the lack of plus size in advertising, both in the media and on the high street, despite plus size being an actual real life, every day thing. You see, I think these photos look fantastic. Yes, the model is a size 16 and not a 10. And yes they look great. But they are also realistic. If you are a size 16 this is what you will look like in these garments. And what’s wrong with that?
If I was a size 16 (as is the average UK dress size these days apparently) fashion hungry twentysomething going into any high street shop, presented with emaciated mannequins, garments pegged centre back, it would probably kill my desire to try anything on. As it is, my heart sinks every time I have to go clothes shopping because I don’t fit standard sizes.
I don’t consider myself a plus size designer. If you look at my work, clearly I am not. But that doesn’t mean a whole bunch of my designs don’t work on larger figures. And as a designer who doesn’t fit into the size 10 category and struggles like hell to find anything to fit, I didn’t want to make garments specifically for larger women.
I don’t like the idea of segregating that part of my business – one half for size 12 and under and another for everything else. To me that’s not how it should work. Why shouldn’t a dress that’s designed for a size 10 also be sized up to accurately fit a size 16, 18 or 22?
I have the additional challenge of being a one man band. It’s just me in that studio, designing, making, selling. I have to work efficiently and cost effectively. It’s just the way it is. Hence, simple, flattering, easy to up-size designs that look gorgeous and are comfortable and flattering.
Most of the garments I designed to be multi-fit had never been on a plus size model. So my first shoot was an experiment. My model was my second guineapig (I was the first). And I was happy to see that most of the pieces worked straight off the hanger. Only one garment needed a bit of tweeking.
Finding customers that appreciate the work that goes into handmade garments is a hard task. Finding people willing to pay for those years of training, investment and outlay to get you where you are – and pay genuine prices for good clothing that fits – is even harder. Making clothes for regular ‘skinny’ girls is foolhardy. They can walk into any high street shop and buy a handful of garments that fit. To succeed at this end of the market you need to be able to make super-cheap, because you’re up against the likes of Primark. When trends change, clothing gets binned.
But if you’re super tall, plus size or have that hourglass curve that high street designers just don’t seem to believe exists, finding anything that fits off the hanger is nothing short of a small miracle. You want it to last forever! Therefore you (and that absolutely includes me) are more likely to invest in clothes that fit, work across the seasons and flatter.
I don’t fit into any size bracket. I am curvy and currently work across 3 dress sizes. I don’t like wearing really short hem lengths. I am also short in the body so not only do sizes not fit, garments like dresses are too long in the waist and far too short in the leg. Consequently I rarely go clothes shopping. It’s a depressing minefield I can’t be bothered with anymore. If I want trousers that fit I have to get bigger sizes with stretchy waists, tailor them or make my own. With dresses I usually have to take them apart and remodel them.
So it would stand to reason as a designer living and working in a country where the average dress size is now a 16, who has also designed for sizes up to UK30, that good plus size clothing would be a design aspiration.
Many of us might want to be a size 10 but there are plenty who don’t. And there are lots of others who will never reach that apparently magical size of happiness and need to embrace the way they already look. There’s also a whole bunch of us would be perfectly happy with our body shapes if only there were the clothing options to match.
Take a look at a few of my favourite images from my shoot. This is a starting point. And I want shoot more. I’m already back at my design table making the next batch. And I’m also looking at scaling up to remodel these designs for larger sizes. I realise that size 16 is not the be all and end all of the plus size market. But we all have to start somewhere.
To find these outfits and more drop into my Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/falcieridesigns