When we came up with the idea for our science, tech, engineering, art, & math inspired women’s line (Svaha STEAM Angels), we immediately started getting lots of questions about what sizes we would be offering. For Jaya and I, there was absolutely no question as to whether or not we would be offering plus sizes. It was a no brainer - of course we would be! We spoke to so many women who were absolutely relieved that we would offer dresses in their size and we were flooded with kind emails thanking us for doing it. Though we loved hearing the positive feedback, it made us pretty sad about the state of the apparel industry in the US. If we had this much of an outpour of support over a decision to offer sizes that will fit 65% of American women, Houston, we have a problem. Why shouldn’t all women be able to feel beautiful in their clothes and why aren’t companies catering to this demographic?
A few days ago, Tim Gunn put out an amazing Post article on his frustration with designers refusing to make clothes for plus sized women, and boy did it ever strike a nerve with me. (It’s a good read, though it will probably take you longer than normal to get through, since you’ll read it in Tim Gunn’s voice). He wrote, "I love the American fashion industry, but it has a lot of problems, and one of them is the baffling way it has turned its back on plus-size women.” This article absolutely infuriated me and rang home a point that I had been thinking about since we started our endeavor into women’s fashion.
Like most people, my childhood had a big impact on my perceptions today. My mother has been such a huge inspiration in my life. Her mixture of kindness along with her “can do” attitude made her a force to be reckoned with. She also happened to be plus sized. I loved my mom so much, and I was completely blind to her size as a child. She was perfect to me. Then as I grew up, I saw how horribly complete strangers treated her. The sneers. The nasty comments directed at her. It was shocking. One of the hardest and most demoralizing things she had to do was to shop for clothes. Plus sized choices for women were (and still are) a complete joke. She had a selection of loud, hideous, boxy clothes that only seemed to emphasize the areas that she wanted to minimize. Regardless of her size, she was the most beautiful person in the world to me. I desperately wanted her to be able to feel gorgeous and I saw how soul-destroying these clothing choices were to her self-esteem. Shopping for clothes should empower you, not want to make you want to hide in your house away from public view.
My mom. She lost the extra pounds she put on growing & raising kids. She is still the most beautiful women in the world to me & an inspiration.
Every woman out there deserves to feel beautiful. Is the plus sized selection offered to women some kind of sick joke from the fashion industry? It’s like the apparel industry is saying, “You don’t fit the mold of an anorexic, prepubescent girl, so we’re not going to make our fashionable clothes in your size! You get to choose from the ugliest, loudest clothes EVER that will make you feel shame for being curvy! Mu-hahaha!” (Yes, they all sound like super villains and have evil laughs.)
I am so proud to be a part of a company whose goal is to make everyone look and feel amazing on the inside and outside. For other companies out there who aren’t offering plus sizes, I am here to help address your hesitation about catering to larger sizes and busts the myths that exist. Ready? Let’s go!
Myth #1: Plus sized women are harder to make clothes for since no two size 18s are the same.
Hey, guess what? No two size 8s are the same either. Every woman out there has a unique body type. That’s why successful apparel companies have great return policies. Sometimes a dress that looks absolutely fabulous on someone else makes you look like a circus freak. There is a simple solution. Make a wide selection of fits and styles so a woman can find the perfect dress to fit her gorgeous, unique shape. Problem solved!
Myth #2: Plus sizes cost more to make and ship, so it's not worth it.
Well yes, it does cost marginally more to manufacture & ship clothes that are made from more fabric. However, do you know what costs even more than that? Losing out on 65% of the women’s apparel market in America for refusing to make clothes that fit people! I guarantee that the increased sales will help you forget the $1-5 difference.
Myth 3: No one wants to see a plus sized model.
I can argue this in 2 words. Tess Holliday. Thin being the standard of beauty was created by the fashion industry. Real beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Fact.
So, here is my advice to other companies. If you aren’t making plus sizes, or you are making awful looking plus sized clothes with fabric that looks like wallpaper from the 1970's, you are sincerely missing the mark. Not only are you missing out on potential revenue, but more importantly, you are missing out on the opportunity to make women feel beautiful. Take it from me - it feels pretty darn fantastic when women reach out to you to let you know that your clothes make them feel like one million bucks. That alone is worth the effort! Step out of your “thin is the only pretty” mentality and you will be vastly rewarded in money and warm fuzzies.
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