Plus Size Part 1 - The Industry / by Peter Nghiem

The fashion industry is for the most part, plus-size adverse. One of the many possible explanations is that manufacturing plus sized clothes can be more complicated. The amount of work required to make plus size clothes in relation to off the rack size clothes are quite significant and there are more considerations that need to be taken. As sizes go up, the difference in body shapes become much more pronounced. That’s why the industry standard of grading (where brands add/minus 2.5cm proportionally when they increase/decrease in size) works so poorly for larger sizes. The difference in body shape also means that it’s extremely hard for plus size women to gauge how an outfit will look without trying it on first. Darts, seams, and shaping require extra care  and this in turn results in increased costs.

Nadia Aboulhosn

Nadia Aboulhosn

This means for small independent companies, making a small mistake whilst trying to release a line of plus size clothing can leave a big hole in the business’ finances or can even be career ending.

Even for established brands this is a substantial undertaking. For example, if they make 300 units for a certain design, they would require a separate team of designers, machinist, pattern makers because the work they would be doing although from the outside looks the same, would be vastly different. All this compounds to be quite a significant cost. Which means that prices at the minimum will have to increase. And if the design fails, well you can understand why many brands are unwilling to take the financial risk.

To combat this, brands would need to price garments by the work required to be spent on them as well as the amount of raw materials that were used for each size of the garment. However, not all consumers understand the processes behind the scenes and the reasoning for different pricing. They just see that their clothes cost more than the size below and are understandably frustrated. The other option is to keep the pricing uniform across the board by increasing the price for the whole line. In both scenarios there are potentially massive risks involved and it’s easy to see why brands are reluctant to do either.

The next issue holding plus-size fashion back is the mentality of the industry. To most designers, fashion is a form of art and often seen as aspirational. When creating a collection, designers aspire for the catwalk of Milan or Paris, not your average Australian woman in Sydney or Melbourne . So, from the outset, these clothes are made for someone else and will never flatter curvier women. It’s bullshit and there needs to be a seismic shift in the industry’s mindset.

Our next blog will explore change in the industry.