The fashion industry has long been rightfully criticised for not accepting the bodies of its customers. Despite the average woman wearing a size 16 (in America, she wears a size 20), high-end brands rarely have acknowledged that most women are unable to wear their clothes. But if recent events are anything to go by, we might be reaching a landmark moment in terms of inclusivity. And it's about time.
From Michael Kors to Mary Katrantzou, the autumn/winter 2019 collections embraced size diversity more than ever before. And now, Dolce & Gabbana has announced they are extending their size range up to UK 22. In fact, not only are the Italian fashion house upping their size offerings, but they will also feature plus-size models in their future campaigns.
Dolce & Gabbana's new size extension goes up to a UK 22
Mary Katrantzou announced earlier this year that they are branching into swimwear with Mary Mare, a new size-inclusive range that will be available year-round, alongside her main collection.
Prabal Gurung – who has previously offered his designs up to size 22 – has collaborated with the US plus-size label Lane Bryant on a collection of 22 pieces, modelled by the beautiful Candice Huffine, who sat down on BAZAAR's podcast to tackle the issue of size inclusivity in the industry. "What I wanted to do was have the platform that reaches a large audience and have the conversation," he told Refinery29. "If I did it on my own I could have this conversation, but to have a bigger conversation I needed them."
Victoria Beckham has also recognised that it's a market that has a lot of potential. Her debut high-street offering with Target carries pieces up to XXXL. She also featured Candice Huffine in her lookbook, highlighting the importance of inclusivity. "I feel there's something here for everybody, no matter her age, her size, where she's from," she told BAZAAR US. "For me it's about being inclusive and that's how Target feels as well."
Candice Huffine modelling for Victoria Beckham
Earlier this year, the Middle East's first plus-sized model from the region got signed by an agency. Ameni Esseibi confesses to BAZAAR that her end game is less about fame and more about uplifting young girls. "I'm endlessly grateful for every opportunity I'm given, but at the end of the day, I want to do whatever it takes career-wise to make young girls feel more confident and loving towards themselves," she says. "The biggest accomplishment of my career so far has been all of the young girls who've reached out to tell me I've inspired them to feel more confident."
In the fitness market, brands have traditionally only catered for women who are already 'slim' in the traditional sense of the word, and only produce exercise apparel for small sizes. However, Nike launched a more inclusive offering last week with sizes going up to XXXL – featuring sports bras, running tights and hoodies.
The reality is that the fashion industry would be short-sighted not to take stock of the now booming plus-size market. Last year, it made $21.4 billion, compared to $17.4 billion in 2013, according to the NPD Group. WWD also reports that plus-size teens are a key force in this, accounting for 34 per cent of the market in 2015 compared to 19 per cent in 2012. It's a fact – plus size is the future.
Ashley Graham on the Michael Kors catwalk
Women above a size 14 are looking at the same catwalk collections and shows as everyone else. There is no reason why they should get at best a diluted version, at worst be excluded entirely from a world that they want to buy into. Being a larger size does not mean that a woman doesn't have the money or the inclination to invest in fashion, but attitudes are changing. It goes without saying that the industry should have acted sooner and that there's still a way to go, but better late than never.