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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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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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.
 

DazzlingAnna

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A few weeks ago I received the brochure of a plus-size store showing their current spring collection.
I am not a big fan of these brochures because the shown models don't represent their own target group. They cover European sizes from 42-68+,(matching US sizes starting at 12) and I think their main customer group is between 48 and 58. I am not sure but when I am at the store I see women of that size.
The models presenting their clothes for sure hit the plus-size criteria of the industry. They don't represent real plus size, at least not me.
When I was having a look at the spring collection I decided to ask them why they don't chose models of various sizes in their product presentation to represent some more of the different body shapes of big women. (They run a campaign about diversity and acceptance in shapes in sizes). I pointed out that I don't need to see super-size models on every page but I'd be happy to see at least a few.
So, I got in contact with the company again and this time I received a reply.
It was a bit more than I expected. The said due to the fact that they produce these brochures very early they just have the sample of clothes availsble once and these samples usually come in the smallest size. So in the brochure the women have to be rather small.
For me that's plausible but still a pity they cannot manage to show more different shapes and sizes.
 

luckyfa

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The said due to the fact that they produce these brochures very early they just have the sample of clothes availsble once and these samples usually come in the smallest size. So in the brochure the women have to be rather small.
To me, that sounds like an excuse, but can‘t know for sure
 

Orchid

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I have this german catalog , the page is dresses in plus sizes.
Goes up to size 56 but only has2, size 54 has 41dresses size 52 has 46 dresses size 50 has 45 the plus sizes go to size 42 but if you are busty it does not fit. The clothes are cut straighter/narrower/squarer so does not fit hourglass. I have one bias cut skirt but that takes too much fabric so is not used, but drapes nice around curvy body. I watch youtube the fashion ateliers where they pin clothes on live model and the thin figure they do not need to know to drape adjust to busts etc.
A size 42 in EU is seen as fat/overweight. I know it is insanity.
Europe got fat. is more and more fat folks here. Food habits changed also.
 

luckyfa

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Paris
I have this german catalog , the page is dresses in plus sizes.
Goes up to size 56 but only has2, size 54 has 41dresses size 52 has 46 dresses size 50 has 45 the plus sizes go to size 42 but if you are busty it does not fit. The clothes are cut straighter/narrower/squarer so does not fit hourglass. I have one bias cut skirt but that takes too much fabric so is not used, but drapes nice around curvy body. I watch youtube the fashion ateliers where they pin clothes on live model and the thin figure they do not need to know to drape adjust to busts etc.
A size 42 in EU is seen as fat/overweight. I know it is insanity.
Europe got fat. is more and more fat folks here. Food habits changed also.
Then size isn‘t a reliable measurement of how big someone is, probably never has been. My wife wears stuff ranging from 48-60 (that‘s what the labels say), depending on the brand. She has to try them on if she wants to buy another brand but so do I.
 

littlefairywren

Wren aka ISFJ
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Sep 2, 2008
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17,485
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Sydney, Australia
A few weeks ago I received the brochure of a plus-size store showing their current spring collection.
I am not a big fan of these brochures because the shown models don't represent their own target group. They cover European sizes from 42-68+,(matching US sizes starting at 12) and I think their main customer group is between 48 and 58. I am not sure but when I am at the store I see women of that size.
The models presenting their clothes for sure hit the plus-size criteria of the industry. They don't represent real plus size, at least not me.
When I was having a look at the spring collection I decided to ask them why they don't chose models of various sizes in their product presentation to represent some more of the different body shapes of big women. (They run a campaign about diversity and acceptance in shapes in sizes). I pointed out that I don't need to see super-size models on every page but I'd be happy to see at least a few.
So, I got in contact with the company again and this time I received a reply.
It was a bit more than I expected. The said due to the fact that they produce these brochures very early they just have the sample of clothes availsble once and these samples usually come in the smallest size. So in the brochure the women have to be rather small.
For me that's plausible but still a pity they cannot manage to show more different shapes and sizes.
We have the same issue here, DA. I want to see what my body will look like in clothes that companies are trying to sell me. All too often the plus sizes are modelled by a slightly heavy woman with large breasts, and that's where it ends. I want to see representation for all shapes, including the super size gals, the ones with hips and bellies, but also the short ass ones like me.
A friend posted this pic on her FB page, and even though it's a BHM being represented, it gives me a little bit of hope that we'll get there one day, because it's long overdue.

1617749107031.png
 

DazzlingAnna

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Then size isn‘t a reliable measurement of how big someone is, probably never has been. My wife wears stuff ranging from 48-60 (that‘s what the labels say), depending on the brand. She has to try them on if she wants to buy another brand but so do I.
You are right about the labelled sizes not being a reliable measurement.
Even within Europe a size 48 isn't a 48 in another country. At least they differ between France and Germany. FR label says 44 = DE label says 46 for the same measurements.
In addition every brand adds its own cuts and every design requires certain adjustments that might not fit on every curvy lady.
I also vary between sizes (between 3 from one brand, well basically all brands ) but fitting between 48 and 60 (which means seven different sizes) is a lot and must be tiring for your wife to check all possible sizes.
 

luckyfa

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Apr 2, 2021
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Paris
and must be tiring for your wife to check all possible sizes.
You‘re right, it is tiring.

I‘d like to add that I find it tiring to buy jeans for myself. I might have trouble to get them over my thighs while they‘re sitting perfectly at the waistline. I need to buy them bigger in order for them to accodomate my thighs but then they‘re loose at the waistline. Sometimes I have to try on 5 pairs or more and salespeople shrug it off.

It seems to me that we all have our issues with the fashion industry. They don‘t cater to people‘s needs, regardlesse of size.
 

Orchid

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Feb 17, 2009
Messages
823
Location
Europe
S/O is very tall but not weight issues he watches his weight. But normal men's t-shirt is like a crop top on him. So finally after much searching online he found a reliable regional tall mens t-shirt online shop so he regularly buys 3 t-shirts there. Jeans is twice a year 2 pairs he buys and leg length is an issue. He is 1.96 mtr. He dislikes buying clothes. I used to gift him dress shirts he never wears them. I donated them later.
I have not been in a fitting room of a shop since ages but they were/think still are here in EU very cramped small , no place to sit etc. The sit is an issue it might fit standing upright but is it still comfortable to sit down wearing it.
I only buy online read the description thrice and watch the video and pictures and stick to things that fit, materials that are soft have a little give and buy 1 size up. I dislike tight clothes. Stretch waist is a must. In dress and skirts midi or maxi so always mid below knee. No black, no dark clothes. no unflattering square binbag.
Before last Xmas started looking for new spring clothes still nothing. I need some hospital clothes too.
The nightgowns and few homewear need replacing for wearing in hospital. Clothes for at home.
Clothes for my medical appointments.
S/O made a joke why you search so long....I answer because maybe for once want to look nice and pretty even if just at home for myself. There are no affordable pretty clothes for a plus size 61 yr old lady in EU.
Seamstress does not exist anymore in my youth place I lived overseas had skirts and dresses made to fit.
 

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