Sarah writes on her experiences as a plus sized shopper & the problematic ways the fashion industry can disingenuously tick and label themselves as inclusive.
"...From where you shop to the people you follow on Instagram - flow your energy in directions that tick the box with authenticity. Whether you're reading this and relate based on size, sexuality, work, relationships or religion. Fire up on your friend's behalf, ask the questions and don't get left behind..."
The shoes, pants, a crop, the bag - I love it, I'll always love it and you're probably reading this thinking, hell yeah - I love that too.
It's only as I develop in my own career, am I witnessing first-hand the process a business takes to make sure they understand their target audience, to research and breakdown what their consumer wants and needs. Yet there is an inequity towards an audience that are there and can only shop online or choose from a limited variety of clothing. I can't help but get a little frustrated on behalf of the marginalised shopper and most importantly, I feel ripped off for the healthy, happy, teenage me who thought I was the problem when a store's jeans didn't go up to a size 12.
It's only in the last few years we see brands - international, market leading brands - take note of this market uncatered to. They've sat in a boardroom, knocked their heads together and realised there's an empty box they can disingenuously tick and label themselves 'inclusive'. An 'extended sizing' section added to the bottom of their website or shoved in the back corner of their store for 'non-standard shoppers'. Clothing for those who are petite, curvy or tall. Clothing that doesn't look like a person of that category was even involved in the process - dull, dark, restrictive pieces as if you lose taste when you’re over a size 14. The assumption that a standard size woman wants to wear a plain black, sexy dress but a larger woman prefers a shapeless, uninspiring, floral sack is a huge oversight and shows your consumers you don't know them at all.
If you’re ever wondering why stores with curve ranges only stock these online, it’s likely they aren’t willing to remove standard sizes from their shop floor to make room, which certainly doesn’t enforce any messaging of inclusivity. It's like being invited to the party but told not to listen to the music. For those commercially minded, consider that party is a clothing store. You've invited everyone, they're listening to the music, they're digging into the charcuterie boards and - because we’re talking dollars here – you have a full party of people with money they’re willing to spend all in the name of an outfit that makes them feel good.
We can only see the start of an ever-changing consideration of the word 'inclusion' before it falls into the abyss of buzzwords that have lost their meaning. The potential to have style accessible to all expressions, not limited to size or ability and by categorized segments – a simple concept that only few brands have the foresight and knowledge of their audience to understand and not slip out of touch.
From where you shop to the people you follow on Instagram - flow your energy in directions that tick the box with authenticity. Whether you're reading this and relate based on size, sexuality, work, relationships or religion. Fire up on your friend's behalf, ask the questions and don't get left behind.
Written by Sarah Accorsi