#ANeutralChat: Is the Plus Size Fashion Industry Over? Universal Standard Thinks So.

Picture it: literally anywhere in the world, prior to the mid-2000’s…

…plus size fashion is relegated to frumpy over-sized and shapeless dresses, terrible floral prints and just overall badness. The words “plus” and “chic” did NOT go together and if you were over a size 10/12, forget about wearing any of the fabulous trends coming down the runway.

I mean, look at this Roaman’s TV advertisement from 1997 (and this is NOT a dig at Roamans! They have got some amazing pieces and are expanding and growing along with the rest of the plus size fashion community!); over-sized cuts and suburban mum fits galore! Let’s just say that the plus industry has come a LONG way since then. And we still have a long way to go.

Knowing that w’re still on the plus fashion journey, imagine everyone’s surprise when the founder of size inclusive fashion brand, Universal Standard, Alexandra Waldman, shared that the company was moving away from the term “plus size fashion.” Ahead of the company’s first SXSW appearance, with include a panel (aptly titled,” Plus-Size Fashion Has No Future “), Waldman shared her very candid and poignant thoughts about the term “plus size” with online fashion and beauty outlet, Glossy:

“The topic of our panel is “Plus-Size Fashion Has No Future,” and that name came about because if you are making something for a size 6, there should be no question that you should be making it for a size 20. If there is always going to be a divide or separation between these two camps, it doesn’t matter how good the plus-size fashion brands get, they will still be secondary to whatever else is happening in fashion.  Yes, 100 million women in the U.S. alone are a size 14, but we can’t keep subscribing to those old rules of plus if we want to change it.”

Let’s dissect that statement - because I am actually loving the concept behind Waldman’s statement, even if her words come across as not so positive. How many times have we gone into our favourite retailer who makes items in both straight size and plus size, only to find that a full 75-80% of the line simply doesn’t extend into the plus category? Or if the full line magically extends, the plus size range is priced much higher than it’s straight-size counterpart pieces?

And why wouldn’t a size 20 or 24 or 30 woman be interested in the same style as a size 6 woman? It’s clearly not for a lack of a customer base, since 68% of American women wear a size 14 and up; and it’s certainly NOT because there isn’t money in the plus size fashion market, as it has been estimated that plus fashion is a $20 BILLION industry. So, what could the disconnect be?

Waldman brings up a great point about how we must move past the “old rules” of plus fashion. And that includes ALL plus size ranges ending at a size 20 or 22; in fact Universal Standard’s new denim line extends to a size 40!

Universal Standard Denim

Waldman is actually preaching size inclusiveness in her seemingly shocking piece. Though I disagree with her choice of words (plus size fashion is NOT dead, nor will it ever be; as long as plus bodies exist), I do think that Universal Standard has put their money where their mouth is and are working to create truly size inclusive clothing that’s chic, trendy and wearable.

What do you think? Do you agree with Alexandra? Do we need to do away with the term “plus size fashion",” and more importantly, how much more pressure should we be putting on brands to start being TRULY size inclusive?

Head over to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (or below in the comments!) and let me know what you think!