Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fashion's Dirty Secret: The Plus Size Fit Conundrum

Confession Time: I went to Parsons the School of Design because I wanted to establish a plus size brand that would appeal to all you chotto coquette's out there.

While pursuing my degree it became apparent that it just was not in the cards as I had serious misgivings about entering the market. One of the main issues that dissuaded me from doing so was the ability to create an appropriate fit for a plus size clothing line.

Why did it? The majority of designers only have access to "straight size" models, dummies, virtual size models, and body measurement data. This is the very reason that you see the people on Project Runway literally weeping when they have to use "real women" instead of models. They have no idea how to approach these body types as they have only learned how to design for a certain size range.

The designers themselves are also not always to blame for this either. In short, it is the costs associated with learning to design and produce an extended size range that is to blame. The additional investment needed is cost prohibitive for many designers, and as such there is a lack of ability to design for plus size frames.


That is also why more often than not many plus size items are "super sized" versions of straight sized styles, and it also accounts for the atrocious fits that abound in the plus size market. As for right now, there is hope that this will change in the future thanks to a joint project by Bekleidungsphysiologische Institut Hohenstein and the Institute of Textile Machinery and High Performance Material Technology at Dresden's Technical University.

They recently just released the results from their study on the measurements of the plus size frame in regards to optimum clothing fit. This is a groundbreaking study as it is the first time "the body measurements of the full-figured [were] comprehensively measured and evaluated scientifically".

What exactly does this mean for plus size shoppers?

"As a result of this effort, the garment industry will have current body measurement data, guidelines for optimised designs, and realistic busts in the form of virtual size models". In short, this means that now ready-to-wear markets will have more accurate information on fits and as such will be able to create clothing that not only fits a plus size frame better but also flatters it as well. Whether they chose to, however, is a completely different subject altogether.

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