BBW’s and the Fashion Industry

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SSBHM

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I have experience in the fashion industry. I have an associate degree in fashion design and merchandising, I am a designer, seamstress, jewelry designer, and fiber artist, have worked in retail fashion, helped buy for a boutique, and have modeled professionally through an agency.

From the design end of things, fat bodies are difficult to design for because they are more diverse than thin bodies. The bigger a person gets, the less standard their body type is likely to be. Look at bodies of people who run from very thin to average sized. Aside from a bit of variation and the occasional outlier, they're pretty much the same. But once you get into the middle of the plus size range, things start to change. You start to see exaggerated body measurements that no longer follow the standard figure formulas. And the bigger the body, the more these measurements deviate from that norm.

Once you get past around a size 18, standardizing fit is a challenge. Past a 24, and it's impossible. All you can do is design a garment to stretch to fit the bigger parts, or loosely drape over the smaller parts. This is why so many plus size ready to wear clothes utilize stretch fabrics and stretch waistbands. Or oversized fit. They will accommodate more bodies than fitted and tailored garments. The more people who can wear the clothes, the better it is from a sales standpoint. Most ready to wear is manufactured under tight budget constraints. Companies can't afford to produce clothes that only a small portion of their target market can wear.

Modeling is a reflection of this. Manufacturers provide sample garments in standard sizes. The model has to be able to wear them. When I was modeling, my agency defined plus sized as 5'10"-6', size 14-16W, B-C cup bra, athletic to moderate hourglass torso, proportionate arms and legs. They wanted us to look like evenly proportioned mannequins. That's pretty much what we were. If we showed up for a shoot or a show and there was a rack of size 14's, we were expected to fit in all of them. There were no accommodations for pear shapes, big busts, tiny waists, or round bellies.

If a manufacturer or retailer sends a selection of garments for a shoot or show, and the model can't wear some of them because she doesn't have an evenly proportioned standardized figure, that's a problem. Time is wasted, money is lost. The agency is likely not to be booked with again. Maybe a shoot can be salvaged with clips, pins, and tape. Photographing from only certain angles. But it's a major pain in the ass, takes time (which costs money) and possibly runs overtime, throwing schedules off.

Fashion is a very standardized industry, fat bodies are usually more unique than standard. It's really more about practicality and logistics than fat hate.
You really nailed it. Bigger people have many more dimensions than smaller people. I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're spot on!

I was looking for some new pants on line and couldn't really decide until I found much more detail about the cut. I have to decide how high the rise of the pant I need is, the thigh size, the waist where it will sit on my torso, as well if it's stretchy fabric or not. Maybe custom clothing will become less expensive someday and I'll find something that's as comfy as sweats!

I'm entirely serious about all of my comments. I respect the insight you provided. Thank you!
 

SSBHM

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I feel so empowered when I see plus size models in print and being hired by big name brands. As a plus size model myself, I feel the pressure in the industry to be a "fit plus" or adapt to expectations rather than being accepted for the shape I am.
You have interesting perspectives on the industry!
It does seem that all the Plus sized models are all proportionate to smaller models.
Not the real world, but then again models are supposed to represent the prettier of us. It's great that they represent all sizes though!
 

Rojodi

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Mar 6, 2006
Messages
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I have experience in the fashion industry. I have an associate degree in fashion design and merchandising, I am a designer, seamstress, jewelry designer, and fiber artist, have worked in retail fashion, helped buy for a boutique, and have modeled professionally through an agency.

From the design end of things, fat bodies are difficult to design for because they are more diverse than thin bodies. The bigger a person gets, the less standard their body type is likely to be. Look at bodies of people who run from very thin to average sized. Aside from a bit of variation and the occasional outlier, they're pretty much the same. But once you get into the middle of the plus size range, things start to change. You start to see exaggerated body measurements that no longer follow the standard figure formulas. And the bigger the body, the more these measurements deviate from that norm.

Once you get past around a size 18, standardizing fit is a challenge. Past a 24, and it's impossible. All you can do is design a garment to stretch to fit the bigger parts, or loosely drape over the smaller parts. This is why so many plus size ready to wear clothes utilize stretch fabrics and stretch waistbands. Or oversized fit. They will accommodate more bodies than fitted and tailored garments. The more people who can wear the clothes, the better it is from a sales standpoint. Most ready to wear is manufactured under tight budget constraints. Companies can't afford to produce clothes that only a small portion of their target market can wear.

Modeling is a reflection of this. Manufacturers provide sample garments in standard sizes. The model has to be able to wear them. When I was modeling, my agency defined plus sized as 5'10"-6', size 14-16W, B-C cup bra, athletic to moderate hourglass torso, proportionate arms and legs. They wanted us to look like evenly proportioned mannequins. That's pretty much what we were. If we showed up for a shoot or a show and there was a rack of size 14's, we were expected to fit in all of them. There were no accommodations for pear shapes, big busts, tiny waists, or round bellies.

If a manufacturer or retailer sends a selection of garments for a shoot or show, and the model can't wear some of them because she doesn't have an evenly proportioned standardized figure, that's a problem. Time is wasted, money is lost. The agency is likely not to be booked with again. Maybe a shoot can be salvaged with clips, pins, and tape. Photographing from only certain angles. But it's a major pain in the ass, takes time (which costs money) and possibly runs overtime, throwing schedules off.

Fashion is a very standardized industry, fat bodies are usually more unique than standard. It's really more about practicality and logistics than fat hate.
This is why my wife is loyal to certain clothing lines, those that can make her feel good about herself.

This is why, at the BBW bashes I attended, the women were excited when a manufacturer came and had clothing available for sale, and to be modeled by volunteers.
 

Tracyarts

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I used to love the fashion aspect of the bashes. I shopped from vendors, worked for a vendor, modeled for vendors, and was a vendor myself at the last event I went to.

This is why my wife is loyal to certain clothing lines, those that can make her feel good about herself.

This is why, at the BBW bashes I attended, the women were excited when a manufacturer came and had clothing available for sale, and to be modeled by volunteers.
 

Rojodi

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Joined
Mar 6, 2006
Messages
5,070
Location
,
I used to love the fashion aspect of the bashes. I shopped from vendors, worked for a vendor, modeled for vendors, and was a vendor myself at the last event I went to.
I loved them before they became meat/meet markets. It was fun to greet friends from the internet, she what clothes my wife was going to purchase, relax in a fun and exciting setting.
 
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