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Journey from size zero to plus size: Creating

identity
Drishti Singh

National Institute of Fashion Technology, Mumbai

Abstract
After studying for a period of time the fashion acceptance and shopping pattern of plus size women, it has
been observed that as compared to earlier times now days women in plus size category are as much
interested in looking good and feeling good about their body as any other lesser size women. They have
started looking forward for plus sized pattern garments which fit them well, are stylish and according to
the latest trend and are readily available in the market. There has not been much in the fashion market for
these plus size women as earlier there was not much of acceptance for them in the industry as a identity
and personality. They were not given any attention in the sense of bold and fashionable garments and
hence there was a lack of confidence in bigger size women in terms of dressing up confidently and
accepting themselves as they are. But now the designers in the market are trying to get the best out of all
types of body images. This paper shows the change in the thinking of the society and acceptance towards
the bigger size women and their fashion needs. It also tries to show the journey of a plus size women and
how it has been till date and how they have dealt with it to overcome certain fears and taboos of the
society.

Key words: plus size, size zero, body size, plus size fashion, bigger size fashion, plus size pattern,
patterns for bigger size, plus image, body image

INTRODUCTION
A great shift of mind set is required for accepting plus size and creating a bold identity for them. It was
very difficult for the plus size women to find bigger patterns and more appealing designs for themselves
as many upmarket department stores keep their plus size clothing section poorly organised, badly stocked
and dimly lit if they stock larger clothes at all.

When a woman sees herself in the mirror, despite her size, she still thinks Angelina Jolie, not Jennifer
Hudson as the mindset is created that only a smaller size women looks good and not the bigger size. Such
a identity was created that women started losing confidence in themselves.

Lately people are becoming aware of importance of giving an individual identity to plus size women too
as there are many initiatives taken from the industry and the plus sized women themselves. And now
we've reached a point where people are actually starting to parade bigger bodies on the runway.
Dove's campaign for real beauty, launched in 2004, took aim at beauty stereotypes by using real women
with representative bodies, rather than models, in an effort to redefine body shapes and creating their
individual identity.

To break barriers, brands have made sizing more consumer centric with sexy appealing advertisements as
inside every women despite her size is a longingness to be recognized for her femininity. Many plus sized
women have created their own identities like Emme, who was the first plus size model to achieve high
profile status. She also has a women's sportswear line (size 2 to 26) and is also an author, consultant and
television personality. Similarly Whitney Thompson broke all the stereotypes and came through the
barriers and became the first plus size model to win America's Next Top Model in Spring 2008.

In the research papers that were went through while researching, most of them speak that plus size
women have come out really confident and made their identity stronger in past few years as there has
been a commendable effort from design industry side as well in enhancing the plus size body type
through new bigger and appealingly patterned garments for them which has now also created a big scope
in plus size apparel market.

Different authors have stated in their earlier research papers that as compared to past scenario there has
been a great shift in the mindset of people. They have grown out their thinking and started accepting the
bigger size as the part of fashion industry and started to develop more fashionable clothing considering
the plus size.

The current market has been improved so much in the terms of plus size fashion clothing that some
brands or designers are only dedicated to the bigger pattern clothing. for example: Dressbarn, Gwynnie
Bee, Eloquii, Modcloth.com, Asos Curve, Adrianna Papell, to name a few. These brands have brought the
revolutionary change in the plus size clothing market.

Significance of this study is to make people aware of how new designers and brands are working to bring
up the fashion market for plus size pattern. And how the plus size fashion grew and was recognised by
our society.

OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY


- To make people aware of the journey of fashion from size zero to plus size.

- To study the mindset of people regarding plus size fashion from past days till the present day.

METHODOLOGY
The present study was carried out using the following methodology:

-The sample of the study was taken from different research papers and articles written by different
authors.
- In the first stage the data collection was very random. the papers related to the topic were taken at
random and later segregated according to their relevance.

- Data collected from these papers was picked only on the bases of the relevance. Not everything was
very relevant to the topic in the selected research papers (not a lot of research has been done on the topic
selected)

REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Fashion has come a long way, but in all the years of its flashy existence, this world had a dyed-in-the-
wool image of depicting slender and tall as “beauty.”

Vidit Sehgal, Head (Marketing and IT) and co-founder of LURAP someone who makes ‘extra large’
clothing, said that the global fashion industry has always been rightfully criticised for only accepting
models who are skinny, be it for posing in shopping websites or walking down the fashion show ramp.
The notion of a woman’s beauty has been formed around the size and shape of her body, and because of
that the idea of women with fuller-bodies has been taken as visually unappealing. women who for any
reason are not able to fit the existing and decided parameters of ‘slim’ by the society end up feeling
marginalised.

The images of models got more liberal with trends becoming broader and more complex - ramps were
graced by the women who decided not to be dictated by the fashion norms made by the society.
According to data from market research firm NPD Group, U.S. sales plus-size apparel of women’s,
including those for teens, rose 6% to 21.4 billion dollars in 2016.

Last year another NPD study released which showed that the percentage of purchasing plus-sized
clothing by US teens is almost doubled from 19% in 2012 to 34% in 2015. It was studied that despite of
wearing a size M by an Indian woman and the average female in American wearing a size 20, many
high-street and premium brands have refused to accept the fact that most women were not able to wear
clothes from their catalogues.

There have been developments in recent days - like a law in France is been passed that no one can use
unhealthy this fashion models. then in Madrid they banned the anorexic models from walking the fashion
shows and Israel banned the models with Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 18.5% - this indicates that the
mindsets of people is gradually changing day by day.

Many women who are plus size are also fervently pushing boundaries and demanding for the beauty to be
all-inclusive despite the shape or colour. Many fashion shows are now introducing plus-size women on
the ramps for the fashion shows in the West. Victoria Beckham has launched her own plus sized line after
recognizing the potential of this market for high-street clothing with pieces which go up to size XXXL.

Many retailers introduced their own plus-sized collections after 2015and many more brands joined in.
Last year, retailer JCPenney (JCP) unveiled its Boutique + collection in conjunction with ‘Project
Runway’ winner Ashley Nell Tipton.
An expanded Plus size collection was recently launched by Nike for sizes 1X to 3X and Walmart (WMT)
announced the acquisition of the independent online retailer ModCloth, which the retail giant described as
a pioneer in the fashion industry on issues of “size diversity, lifestyle inclusiveness, and body positivity
over the last decade.

McKinsey & Co reported that mentions of “plus size” in the fashion press was tripled in 2016 as
compared with the past years. The haute couture world’s scenario has changed in the recent years with
plus-size models landing big fashion gigs. Plus-size model Tess Munster, aka Tess Holliday, became the
first woman of her size and height to score a contract with the prominent modelling agency, Milk Model
Management, in 2015, while Candice Huffine became the first ever plus-size model to be featured on the
Pirelli Calendar.

Headlines were hit by the fashion magazine Vogue by featuring for the first time plus-sized model
Ashley Graham on its March cover alongside other models. Plus-size models may be having their
moment of glory internationally, but in India, they still have a long way to go.

India, too, is joining the bandwagon, even if at a much smaller scale,” Sehgal continued, “Lakme Fashion
Week launched its Plus-Size fashion show last year, which saw curvier models owning the runway with
grace and elan. Dove too introduced its #RealBeauty project, calling women of all ‘shapes and sizes’ to
share their photographs on its website and join the conversation revolving around body image and body
acceptance.

Plus-size and curvy fashion bloggers are proudly taking the Internet by storm with their blog pages like
Curves Become Her, Beyond That Bouffant, and Girl with Curves. “Renowned designer Prabal Gurung,
known for designing clothes up to size 22, has teamed up with the U.S.-based plus-size label Lane Bryant
for a collection of 22 pieces. Online fashion websites like Lurap are also catering to this demand by
offering a collection of plus-size boutique clothing for curvy women that are tasteful, fashion-forward,
and aspirational.”

Sensible efforts are being made by a lot of influencers and brands from the industry to create a niche,
where plus-size women can express themselves and celebrate their bodies.

This attitude of the Indian fashion industry needs to change, desperately and immediately; the stereotype
that ‘all plus-size women are fat’ needs to be shattered, because it is, like all other stereotypes, demeaning
and erroneous. Before plus-size can become mainstream and aspirational, there is a dire need to bring a
halt to different kinds of size supremacy.

CONCLUSION
The study states that there has been a great change in the mind set of people from past few years. Plus
size is widely been accepted now and many designers and brands have come up with special plus size
range for their stores. People have started appreciating the bigger size and now they are been introduced
as the models for many fashion shows in many countries. A large number of designing brands and
designers have been working on improving fashion for plus size. They are creating fashionable garments
for big sized women. They feel more comfortable and confident in clothing these days. There are more
number of designs available in the market for bigger size. Now the industry is going towards plus size
from the size zero.

LIMITATION & SCOPE OF STUDY


There were very less research papers written on the chosen topic. Very few people have gone through the
issue and done a proper research. More of survey can be conducted to know the actual issue faced by the
plus size women and later can be studied to come on a conclusion and come up with solutions for the
problems or issues faced by them.

The study of how the fashion evolved and accepted the plus size is also not very prominently talked or
discussed in any of the research papers or articles, to overcome this limitation one on one interviews can
be conducted with people in fashion industry who have been working for very long time now. Interviews
with people relating to the topic can help come up with more accurate conclusion and give more specific
information.
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