Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Will Marc Jacobs Do Plus Size?

This is a bit of an essay and it's taken me practically all day to write but I've got a lot to say on plus size fashion, so it's worth reading if you have time. The president of Marc Jacobs label has hinted that the brand may branch out into 'plus sizes'. He tweeted that they are in the very early stages of discussing the venture and it should take around a year to materialise. I was beyond excited at first, but after reading the full article and laughing/shouting at the comments people left, it has thrown up a lot of mixed feelings that I'd like to discuss.

'Plus' in the designer fashion world is anything above a 14 and the article hinted that sizes would start there-how far beyond a 14 they will go though is the main issue for me. I would be extremely annoyed if sizes 14-18 were produced and classed as 'plus size', because lets face it, that's normal and average in the UK, there's nothing 'plus' about it and it would make the whole venture seem like a cheap publicity stunt. Although it's unusual in designer or boutique brands, most high-street shops do go up to a 16 or 18, so the idea that these women 'struggle' to find fashionable clothing isn't very realistic.
Other comments turned to the usual closed-minded opinions of being overweight=unhealthy. Should we be promoting plus sizes when it's dangerous and poses many health risks? Well, I can only speak personally and although I'm sure it isn't doing me any favours being this size (although I don't have any proof that it's 'bad' for me)-there's absolutely nothing I can do about it anyway. I'm not eating any differently (if anything less actually), than when I was a little size 12 and nobody had an opinion about my weight, health or eating habits then. Of course I'm not as active as I was, but that's entirely down to illness, rather than my size hindering my athletic ability and therefore why I've put on weight. The idea that 'fat people' sit around all day munching on crisps, doughnuts and fizzy drinks is ridiculous. I'm sure some do, but then so do some skinny girls-what a shocker! Just as I'm sure there are many people my size who are perfectly fit and healthy, because that is just their natural shape. It's not mine, but it's who I am for now and I don't think I should be unable to purchase stylish clothes because of it. How someone like Karl Lagerfeld could be such a genius and such a bigot at the same time is beyond me. SocalAlex provided a very useful quote, which I hadn't been aware of before (although I try to block out most of what Lagerfeld says) When he was told last year that German magazine Brigitte intended to use "ordinary" women in their fashion shoots, designer Karl Lagerfeld branded the move absurd and said that it was driven by "fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly." What an ass!

I know that many people retaliate by saying being underweight is just as dangerous as overweight. I personally think we need to be more accepting of all sizes. There are some people who are just naturally slim, but of course there are many that claim to be and it's pretty obvious they aren't. I don't really think I need to go into that-we all know what is healthy for us.
Another criticism was that plus sized models are somehow too toned, perfect and in proportion and that's not reflective of the real plus size women out there. Well of course that is the case-they are models! Every size 8 girl in the world doesn't automatically look like Gisele does she? Likewise I don't look like Crystal Renn, but that's why she's a model and I'm not! I am however divided about the use of 'plus size' models in the fashion industry just now. I don't like the idea of using them just for publicity and to try to appease the public over the last few years of the 'size zero' debate by putting one 'larger' model on the runway. Besides, models only have to be a size 12 or over to be considered 'plus size' and although it's a huge difference from the usual stick thin models, it's not exactly 'plus' to us, is it?
The article (and some comments) mentioned that proportions are different over a size 16 and that it's difficult to find a true size that fits most women of that size. They say different people put on weight in different places and how can you dress a full size 18, top heavy size 18 with 14 bottom etc etc? While I understand what they're saying (it is difficult to cut from one block to cater for the masses)-I don't really buy it. Women of any size have to maybe go up or down depending on whether they have big boobs, a rounded tummy, huge hips or are very tall or petite. That's just life and something that affects us all, regardless of being a size 12 or 22.
(Nearly) finally-maiaH said "fat people don't shop"-clearly you've never visited my blog! I'm still the same fashion loving, shopaholic I was 10 years ago, regardless of my size. It's only now that it's more difficult for me to shop-Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Oasis, Warehouse etc are not places that cater for me. Yes I'm angry about it, but it just means I have to shop elsewhere-not that I revert to wearing one-size-fits-all tents and sit and eat all day in a depression (sorry Karl)! I also didn't like that he/she said "people who buy A LOT of clothes care a lot about their appearance, so keep themselves thin" and suggested that fat women lack confidence. Have you seen the amazing fatshionistas out there who blog? I'm also sure I come across as pretty confident and I do care about my appearance, anyone who knows me is well aware of that-those comments are just bull.
I liked this comment from katybird "size 14 plus-size??! How depressing. Anyone who's shopped in Topshop will tell you that a size 14 in there is NOT big...". I hear ya! Philly82 reckons that bigger sizes sell out first on the high-street and shops are left with rails of size 8's "I wish stores would look at sales figures in relation to sizes and order in more of what size flies off the shelf first". This also quashes the theory that bigger sizes don't shop or that demand for bigger sizes isn't there. Of course I don't complain to Topshop staff every time I'm in that there is nothing in my size-I know there isn't before I even set foot in the door! Do we really have to do go through that every day to show there is demand for larger sizes? I think if any of these stores took a look around, they would realise the demand is there-I can't comment on why they are doing nothing about it. I think it's antiquated to suggest that we don't deserve to wear that hot Toppers dress just because we are curvier. I also think that if these shops believe there is a big enough demand for the size 4's (US size zero) that they stock (really?), which is honestly on the 'very thin' end of the scale (no matter if you get there naturally or not), they should balance this out with sizes on the larger end of the scale-and no, a size 16 doesn't count as 'very large' in my book! What I've never understood is those that complain when Nicole Richie, Victoria Beckham, Mary Kate Olsen etc are scarily thin and yet they don't pick up on the fact that their clothing fits them perfectly. People actually make jeans for adults that tiny! A size zero is the equivalent of a childs body, yet high end and high street designers cater for them but it's supposed that if you don't make clothes for 'fat people' they'll be forced to lose weight to fit smaller sizes.
Really finally, what made me laugh and I'm not usually one to point out or discuss a persons dress size, because we all carry weight differently and obviously our height matters when it comes to sizing choices, but the article said Beth Ditto was an 18...really? Really, really? She's never struck me as being an 18-I feel they got that wrong. If she is, what's all the fuss about her then? I'd love to hear your views on any of the topics discussed here.
Beth Ditto images zimbio, Marc Jacobs A/W '10 images Vogue


  1. What an interesting and thoughtful blog post. I find it so patronising and annoying when anything over size 14 is considered to be plus size. Also, I agree that women are very differently proportioned, whatever their size. In my own case, I'm very top-heavy. I have extremely skinny legs - probably size 8 or 10, but big boobs and waist. I generally wear 14 in t-shirts, and 16 in jackets, fitted dresses and shirts. I also find it very difficult to buy trousers that fit my waist, but don't look ridiculously baggy on my legs. And I weigh less than 10 stone, and am about average height. So plus size on top, waif-like on the bottom. Hmmmm. Anyway, rant over - great post! x

  2. I don't even want to think what it's like to shop for clothes when you're size 14 and over... I am 8/10/12 (different measurements for different body parts heh, and also every shop seems to have their own size chart which is infinitely annoying) but I've got quite large hips and I'm very short (5.2) so shopping for me is already agony :/ I can't recall the last time I'd walk in a shop and not get completely mentally drained after trying on tens and tens of jeans, for example. They just never fit me.
    I seriously admire you for all the strength of mind; how come we ended up living in the times where shopping can bring a person to tears? I thought fashion was supposed to be fun. Regardless of the size :/

  3. Thank you so much for your kind words and for reading it all ladies!

    TBBB-I'm very top heavy, tiny waist, skinny legs-so often need a size or two bigger up top and as I mostly buy dresses this often results in them being too large on the bottom half but fitting just right on top (although they always gape at the armholes).

    Ola-yep, every shop is different, which unfortunatley means us trying on everything! I can remember when I could shop in Topshop etc and struggled to fit what was supposed to be 'my' size (yet it could drown me in the shop next door). I know what you mean, everyone assumes if you are small in height, you're tiny all over-most petite ranges carry very few sizes and I really feel for plus sized, short girls who don't fit those sizes-it must be such a struggle.

  4. It is quite the same here, in Montreal, Canada. In the "regular stores", the sizes 14-16 are always the first to go (quite normal when the ratio for size 14 is 3 item and size 4-6 is 12). In plus size stores, the first 2 size (the smallest) are always the first to go to. Everybody fantasizes about big boobs but no one makes cothes that fits those big boobs (big boobs...not that big but bigger than average?). Anyway, great post. its nice to know that other girls have the same problems (well "nice" in a way if you know what i mean:))

  5. Exactly! I often wonder with the rise in popularity of boob jobs-how these girls find clothes to fit them? I suppose they tend to buy tiny, stretchy clothes that stretch over the 'larger parts'! They must not look for tailored, fitted, non-stretch items. I could probably go down one or two dress sizes if my boobs weren't so big!


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