10 June 2009
The Fat Lies the Fashion Industry Is Telling
Ann Taylor and Bloomingdale’s recently joined Ellen Tracy, the Gap, and Banana Republic in slashing plus-sizes (size 16 and up) from their store inventories. While some retail experts are quick to reassure the public that “it has nothing to do with fat phobia”—instead, they insist that that plus-size lines make bad business sense due to high production costs and low consumer demand—this doesn’t really pass muster given the oft-cited fact that American women are on average a size 14 and that 70% of women are size 12 and up. Great style blogs like Fatshionista and Frocks & Frou Frou (to name only two that we love) and the popularity of made-to-measure services like those offered by some ingenious designers on the online marketplace Etsy.com (see the black dress lillipilli of Frocks & Frou Frou is wearing in the image!) demonstrate how high the demand for stylish togs are among larger women.
Fat phobia cannot be explained away by economic determinist arguments. Anyone who caught the fifth episode of The Fashion Show (Bravo’s rather uninspiring replacement for Project Runway) painfully witnessed the foul attitude some fashion designers have about plus-sized women.* And as Tatiana the Anonymous Model points out, “[I]f the cost of garment development were the only reason that plus-size ranges are making a hasty exit from shop shelves, we would be seeing the discontinuation of petite lines [another non-standard size], because they face all of the same expenses. And that hasn't been happening.”
* And in the clips I saw, it seemed as if a number of the women were "normal skinny," as opposed to "model skinny," which nonetheless inspired tears and tantrums from the contestants. -- Mimi