That's the title of an article written by Gina Bellafante in The New York Times Magazine section this week. No more than four people sent me a note about the article and there is a folder about it on the Plus Size board on Patternreview.
My first thought when I was reading the article was "Thank God I sew!" My second thought was that designers and retail outlets that refuse to take the time to make this product are full of crap! Seriously! It is fat prejudice plain and simple. It doesn't fit with their "ideal" of the perfect woman so they treat this customer like a stepchild.
However, this is the portion of the article that set my teeth to chattering:
"The most formidable obstacle lies in creating a prototype. If you already have a line of clothing and a set system of sizing, you cannot simply make bigger sizes. You need whole new systems of pattern-making. “The proportions of the body change as you gain weight, but for women within a certain range of size, there is a predictability to how much, born out by research dating to the 1560s,” explained Kathleen Fasanella, who has made patterns for women’s coats and jackets for three decades. “We know pretty well what a size 6 woman will look like if she edges up to a 10; her bustline might increase an inch,” Fasanella said. “But if a woman goes from a size 16 to a 20, you just can’t say with any certainty how her dimensions will change.”
Thin people are more like one another; heavier people are less like one another. With more weight comes more variation."
Seriously...THIN women are alike! You have got to be effing kidding me! If that was the case then ALL thin women would go into a store and put on a dress, pay for it and walk out with it. But how many THIN women have to go from store to store...designer to designer...RTW label to RTW label to find an outfit that fits! This is oversimplification in the worse way and another example of fat prejudice!
No...the most formidable obstacle lays in the fact that manufacturers and designers don't want to take the time to create the prototypes. They don't want to take the time to work out the challenges. They want to throw some scraps into the store...complain about the space that these larger garments take up...use a so-so presentation and then when it doesn't sell say, "Look it doesn't work. Plus size women don't want to buy our garments so let's move on!" Only one manufacturer of plus size garments was mentioned in the article for taking the time to overcome the challenges associated with clothing plus size women, Marina Rinaldi.
And don't get me started on the pattern companies...because they are not far behind their compatriots in the retail world. Though I will give Simplicity Patterns a job well done because they at least have a fashionable line for plus size women...but Vogue, Butterick and especially McCalls...not so making the grade.
If I, who has limited patternmaking skills, can figure out how to reproduce a designer dress to fit my plus size body then it seems to me that with the resources a RTW company or designer has at their disposal they can do the same. And if it was so horrible to make clothing for plus size women and be successful at it, then stores like Lane Bryant, The Avenue and Torrid wouldn't be doing such a booming business.
To me "Plus Size Wars" offers nothing new and insightful to this discussion. It is just a rehash of why this market is underserved. It was written to ride on the coattails of some of the recent European magazine articles and pictorals glorifying the plus size woman.
If you are plus size and sew like me...be grateful! Continue to work on learning to fit your body, figuring out what colors and styles work for you and be glad that you can make your own clothing because your plus size sisters that can't sew are settling...and you don't have too!
p.s. I am not upset/mad/angry with Kathleen Fasanella...my point is that I was not impressed with the article and with manufacturers reasons for not servicing the plus size market. I understand that she was just a contributor to the article.