In 2010, it blows my mind that this is the first year that New York Fashion Week will host its first ever plus-sized fashion show. Not only is this long overdue, it’s unfortunate that the OneStopPlus.com show will be housed next door at the Atrium in Frederick P. Rose Hall on September 15 and will not be in-conjunction with IMG Fashion Week. Brands that will be shown include, Avenue, Women Within, Jessica London, and Ellos: all known for their plus sized fashions. Why is it that plus-sized models are always tucked away in their own category or separate hall? I’m waiting for the day that curvy women walk alongside the size zeroes.
There has already been a full figured fashion week for two years now in Manhattan, but it seems more like preaching to the choir. The current show will take place next to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in order to make greater impact. No doubt they’ve already gotten a tremendous amount of press, but I ask for what? We are still not seeing a size 10 working it down Anna Sui’s runway.
In an age where the average woman is a size 14, it’s preposterous that designers cannot keep the designs the same and make the sizes larger. Still high fashion designers seem to be hesitant to make plus a part of their collection lines. Karl Lagerfeld has gone on the record defending skinny models. He has also stated that any show featuring regular sized women is “absurd.” Designer Julien MacDonald has called plus-sized models a “joke.” Charlotte Dawson, Australia’s Next Top Model judge, called the curve craze “tokenism.” “We could have a plus-size model win the competition and she would end up doing catalogs for Target.”
Yet not all fashionistas feel the same. Robert Duffy, president of Marc Jacobs has tweeted about “being in the beginning stages of talking to a partner about plus sizes.” Duffy was quoted on Twitter as saying “I don’t like the phrase Plus Sizes. Any suggestions?” While we may see an expanded size range from Marc Jacobs (which already goes to size 14) he will not be showing at Belle Epogue, the plus-sized runway show.
Eighteen full-figured models will grace the catwalk including famous plus-sized models Tocarra Jones and Emme who will host the event. Jones appeared on Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model. While she didn’t take the title, in cycle 10, Whitney Thompson another plus-sized beauty won the coveted prize. Banks has always featured voluptuous models on her reality competition and even launched the Fiercely Real Teen Model Search this year for plus-sized girls. While Banks and Jacobs embrace bigger sizes, much of the fashion industry is still in a stand-off on whether fuller-figure women should walk the runway. With sample sizes traditionally being a size zero and plus being associated with fat, the industry seems to be at a stand still on whether to go inclusive.
Either way, having a show as high profile as the one at Fashion Week will no doubt draw attention to the fact that the high fashion world is very outdated in its thinking. Size zero samples are the real joke when the rest of the country weighs in at an average 162 lbs. Designers must realize that in order to serve their customers appropriately they must advertise in a realistic light. I’m not suggesting having morbidly obese women model their lines because that’s not healthy, but having someone that’s 6 feet tall and 110 lbs is just not healthy either. How much quicker would a woman buy a dress if the person wearing it more closely represented her body type? You can only sell so much when the clothes don’t live up to the reality of today’s sizes. Retail gets it. No longer are plus-sized women being relegated to stand-alone boutiques such as Lane Bryant and big-box chains such as Walmart. Brands such as Forever 21 and Eli Tahari both carry a plus-sized line. After all, at the end of the day beauty comes in all sizes and shapes, but money spends the same.