Why should I have a lesser experience when I’m out shopping than someone smaller? Why should we as an industry actively exclude entire groups of people? Everyone should be able to walk into the finest stores and know that they can buy more than a scented candle or pair of shoes. Just think of the most progressive and beautiful labels around right now and the power of entering their shop and feel welcomed instead of judged.
At this point, I’m a bit surprised we still have to have these conversations, but something has to change, and the shift we need is cultural. It has less to do with fashion or shopping and is much more about how we view and treat people. 70% of women can’t be considered a specialty category; you’re speaking about the vast majority of women who are buying clothes. Behind closed doors, decisions are being made that divide us into different groups based on our size. It’s been like that for so long that it seems natural, but it doesn’t make sense in terms of the retail numbers and basic logic.
A couple of years ago, I said that plus-size was over, and at the time, the statement was considered controversial. Many people said “how dare you,” but the point that I was trying to make was that our industry is divided, and many of the issues around inclusive sizing stem from this idea that there are “regular” clothes and “specialty” ones. Decisions are then made about which groups are considered deserving and who receives access to what.
At Universal Standard, we offer pieces from sizes 00 to 40, making us the most size-inclusive brand around. As much as I love what we’ve been able to create, we’re only one company and represent a singular perspective. As comprehensive as our sizing is, it isn’t enough for only a handful of companies to do the work. If we want to create genuinely inclusive retail experiences, more brands will have to get on board by expanding their size ranges and reevaluating who their clients ought to be.
Negative assumptions about what consumers of a certain size are interested in and longstanding prejudices about weight have imposed limits on who designers create for. An underserved market exists, one with billions of dollars of spending power and a desire to invest in their wardrobes. Fashion may have treated these women like second-class citizens in the past, but it would be doubly shameful to carry those exclusionary and demeaning practices into the future.