Every year before birthdays, the first day of school, and class pictures, my closet would get a major reorganization.
Clothes kept flying in and out as I fretted over what exactly I should wear. I put a lot of thought into the different components of my outfits (specifically for school).
Throughout elementary school, for many days at a time I would wind up late for class, simply because I just had to change what I was wearing. Either this top was not quite right, or those pants did not go with that shirt. It was these various outfits or articles of clothing that did not meet my standards, or those of my classmates.
It took me some time to realize that at most points in your life no one will even care about the way you choose to dress. (No one other than maybe your employer, and some unfiltered fourth graders of course.)
You could wear anything from a navy vest, to crop tops, to bell-bottom jeans everyday, and if they do choose to notice and nitpick then let them. Walking out of my house each morning, I wanted to feel that every piece of clothing I was wearing flattered me, celebrated me, and was something I felt stylish yet also comfortable in.
In order for anyone to meet this criteria, a variety of options should be available when it comes to shopping, which a large part of the fashion industry is failing to give to a large number of people.
Walking around a local mall, you’ll see many stores marketing clothes to teenagers with brightly coloured displays, highlighting cute summer outfits and adorable articles of clothing. What you will not see is a large variety of sizes, catering either to the smaller or bigger individuals that will also be walking through those doors in search for items to purchase.
Our shopping environments are littered with brands like Brandy Melville, Urban Outfitters, and Garage, which leave very few options for those tweens and teens that do not fit into their size ranges. There are few businesses that carry extended sizes in-store within Canada, and some companies have even chosen to discontinue these lines or make them available only online. The options that are more readily available tend to cater to older women or professionals, leaving the young people striving for “trendy” clothing out of the mix.
Many brands are also choosing to approach these extended sizes with the mentality that it is the same clothing, plus or minus some extra fabric. This should not be the case as different sizes means different body types, where certain styles will look better than others. Many a time it is this addition of extra fabric that will cost consumers exponential prices, in comparison to pieces that are offered by a neighbouring, “regular” retailer.
What is this telling people, specifically those who are plus sized? Do they not deserve the opportunity to shop for a variety of accessible, affordable clothes if they are different from the established “normal”? Do they not deserve to find clothes that make them feel that flattered, celebrated, stylish yet also comfortable?
Some brands have made strides towards inclusivity in recent years, specifically Nike with their addition of plus sized mannequins within their stores, Forever 21’s growing plus size selections, and Zendaya’s extended sizes in her Tommy Hilfiger collection. While some backlash has been received, they are mainly gaining positive traction in the media and on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Hopefully these campaigns and brands begin inspiring others in the industry, showing them that there is in fact a profitable demand for these sizes.
Simply, the fashion industry still needs to do better. The large remainder of brands still stuck in the early 2000s mentality need to realize that clothes are a necessity, and medium of expression for all. All consumers should have a variety of accessible, affordable, and stylish options available to them, regardless of size.