Fashion

Does the fashion industry cater to all body types?

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The idea of the ‘perfect’ body image is ever-changing, but within the fashion world it looks to have remained fairly constant with designers seemingly only catering for those with tall, slim figures.

Sure, the ‘ideal’ body type for women hasn’t always been a size 0. In the 50’s society favoured an hourglass figure, whereas modern society has seen a shift towards more ‘bootylicious’ figure types. Major influencers, such as Beyonce and the Kardashian clan, are paving the way for curvier girls. So why isn’t major fashion catching on? Back in June, Kanye West sought out Amina Blue, a 5ft 1 model to walk the runway for his Yeezy collection and just last month Michael Kors chose curvy model, Ashley Graham to walk his SS18 show at New York Fashion Week. These instances were momentous in regard to showcasing different body types, however these examples are far and few between.

If high fashion can show subtle signs of adapting to this ‘love yourself the way you are’ era, then why isn’t high street fashion following suit? Despite the average* size of a woman in the UK standing at a size 16, many brands, such as ‘In the style’, only stock their main collections up to a size 12. Granted, not all high street fashion is at fault. Recent times have seen the rise of brands such as ‘Simply Be’, who cater for “plus-size and curve fashion”. The brand begins their range at a UK size 12, but should that be considered as ‘plus-size’? My personal opinion; no.

Boohoo recently came under fire for including Swedish model Anna Fritzdorf, a UK size 12, in their plus-size range which spans from a size 14 to a size 26. This sparked uproar across social media surrounding the lack of accurate representation of ‘plus-size’ figures.  This creative decision seems to be a massive oversight, especially when you consider that there are a ton of plus-size bloggers, models and influencers that would have been more than happy to model.  One positive to be taken from the situation is that it sparked a conversation, a conversation by which women were able to stand up for their representation and reiterate that they would not abide by unrealistic beauty standards.

Boohoo’s controversial use of a supposedly ‘plus size’ model.

 

It’s important for me to write here that men too are subject to idealistic body types. I can’t say in my 23 years of life that I can recall seeing a male model that didn’t possess washboard abs, a chiselled jaw-line and huge biceps. Yes, the ‘Dad-Bod’ did begin trending in 2015 after Leonardo DiCaprio was pictured looking slightly less toned than usual, though this was not embraced by the fashion industry. With the mounting pressure on men to look buff it’s time the industry also showed a focus on plus-size men to really allow for change.

I think the fashion world, and society itself, has a long way to come until it can be seen to truly cater to the various body types of both men and women. Yes, there are now more ‘plus- size’ clothing brands than ever before, but is it fair that those over a certain size should have to rely on ‘plus size’ specific brands, shouldn’t all shops simply strive to be inclusive?

Real change within the fashion industry will come about when it is forced to adapt in line with changing societal values. So, maybe it’s time that we, as a society, realise there is no such thing as an ‘ideal figure’. We are all different and we should all be made to feel happy and confident in the clothes we choose to wear, no matter where we buy them from.

 

Words by Rosie Mary Kathleen Boon

Edited by Holly Harper

Holly and Eleanor are your fashion editors

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