For the past few days I have been silently fuming, unable to publicly comment on my disappointment regarding the two most recent plus size articles on MamaMia. I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from my outfit photos published there last year so the turn around baffles me.
As much as they enraged me it was a similar smack in the face that I find repeatedly occurs in this industry and I’m afraid I’m becoming a little numb to it. I feel like I’m repeating the same thing over and over again and the message still somehow seems to gets lost.
I thought instead that I might open up my blog to post a letter from Claire Primrose of 17 Sundays so she could publicly voice her well educated and experienced opinion on the matter.
“WOW……. What a reaction!
Personally I found both posts confusing inaccurate and pointless.
It’s the commentary I found interesting and depressing in equal measure, and to me that is the real story here. As a designer who has worked in regular boutique brands and plus brands full time over the past 20 years I have to say the plus size category and related media coverage is very interesting and fraught with some perplexing challenges.
So many women and girls in this country owe a lot to TS and City Chic for bringing options in the fashion offer to the Australian market in larger sizes. As businesses, they live and breathe plus size both here and internationally. They know their market and customer base inside out and have teams of people analysing the best way for their businesses to make money at retail, which in this country is a crazily hard task.
Given this, don’t you think that if shooting garments on a size 26 model actually sold garments that City Chic and TS would have done it? Why aren’t all the plus size brands designed BY plus size women FOR plus size women shot on plus size women (size 22-26 models) grossing the most money at retail???? I have seen so many of these brands start over the years, with the tag line: “I started my own label because there was nothing out there to wear” where are these brands now???
For a start, fashion is possibly one of the hardest businesses to keep afloat in this country regardless of category, based on issues like cash flow, consumer and media interest, creating valuable brand equity let alone the extremely high cost of doing business here. Even multi million dollar businesses like TS and City Chic have gnarly moments with cash flow and bad seasons and they are the absolute corner stones of plus size fashion in the country.
As a brand 17 Sundays have been embraced by Mamamia over the years and have had contact with their stylists, who aren’t plus size. But why does that matter?? They are FASHION stylists who live and breathe global trends, know exactly what is on trend or fwd, understand fabrications and how certain silhouettes sit in the seasonal offer.
They are fashion people and in my opinion the fact that they are willing to approach plus size brands in the same way they would approach Sass and Bide or Country Road is refreshing. There is a big different between plus size garments and plus size fashion. Fashion needs to be able to offer something seasonal and fwd. garments are for those that aren’t interested in the trends or expressing themselves in a fwd manner and don’t understand how or just simply don’t want to take risks with styling.
As a business who offers fwd styling to a specific demographic it absolutely blows my mind that the old drums come out almost with relish to be banged in a defensive manner. “These garments obviously haven’t been designed by a plus size woman”, “why aren’t these models plus size?” “Wet look leggings –AS IF”… These kinds of comments are old and boring, simply not true and if they actually effected the offer in plus size in dollar terms they would have been listened to years ago.
We are on our 4th repeat in the wet look leggings because they are an absolute winner in dollar terms. Oh and our model on the Iconic is a size 14, the ‘size 8’ was a typo. These comments do nothing but make the fashion stylists at Mamamia second guess themselves which given the call outs in this post they obviously are already, when they shouldn’t. As well as shaking the confidence of young girls who want to buy into the same trends their girlfriends are wearing.
Why bother sticking your neck out and adding a point of difference to plus size?? Mamamia fashion team aren’t going to want to touch plus again and due the back lash on this article and who else who else would? So yet again no one in the media covers plus, it will never get the respect it deserves as one of the hardest categories in fashion to get right and do well and any fashion legitimacy any brand offers to the market place gets so publicly slammed people are too scared to buy into it.
I would love to see some editorial and commentary done by some of the more prolific plus size bloggers as to why there is such reluctance to embrace difference and fashion fwd coordinates in plus size. It seems to me in plus size its people with no idea making throw away negative comments that bang the loudest drum and to be honest im so sick of it. Contrary to those who start their own brand for a few weeks because ‘there just isn’t anything out there’. There are heaps of options available and any look you want to achieve in plus is possible.
So It’s really simple, if you don’t like a garment or a brand or a trend don’t buy it, but don’t shake the confidence of those who are so excited to be trying something different. It’s negative and doesn’t help business or the media embrace plus size and shift the paradigm.”
– Claire Primrose, 17 Sundays
What are you thoughts on the issue?