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The End of Plus Size Fashion Innovation?

Any shopper knows that the beginning of spring means the premiere of new styles. Gone are the frumpy monotone sweaters and jeans. In with the lightweight fabrics and beautiful prints. Spring/Summer is hands down my favorite season to shop because the possibilities are endless. It is so easy to mix and match and usually the cheapest season to shop. In preparation for the Memorial Day and Fourth of July sales, there is always a surplus of inventory. This means there is no need to rush to purchase because I know my size will be available. Except this year is drastically different. The plus size movement, which really hit its stride around 2015, has now dwindled down significantly. Most people would attribute this to the global pandemic. Covid-19 is undoubtedly shattering our economy and many people are still without jobs and disposable income for fashion. However, it became seemingly a little more blatant that plus size shoppers are being disregarded. 

When I went to Jamaica last year, I was disappointed to see that the summer selections left so much to be desired. Summer colors and prints were ditched for the Kardashian-esque, nudes and greys. Even the styles appeared as they were plucked straight from one of their dismal Instagram accounts. Full of oversized T-shirts and biker shorts. Luckily, I was eventually able to go into a Forever 21 to find some items worthy of the trip I was embarking on. 2020 brought the almost resurgence of neon colors. Naturally, I assumed summer collections would have better shopping options. Boy, was I wrong. In my search for fashion, it appears I stepped back into 2012. Poorly placed ruffles, ill-fitting mumus, denim dresses, high waisted sailor shorts and worst of all, the dreaded peplum. I thought designers had finally caught the hint that plus size women want sexier options. Alas, we are back to square one. In my desperation, I even went to Fashion Nova’s website and became disappointed by the selection. 

With the growing popularity of SavageXFenty, some brands have started to prioritize plus size intimates. While this is a great advancement, it is underwhelming that the underwear is exquisite and the outerwear is garbage. It should not be far fetched for adequate plus size fashion to exist somewhere between bodycon dresses and matronly mumus. The need for more, younger, plus size designers has never been more prevalent. If the demographic is 20-30 year-old plus size women and your design team is majority 40-50 year-old straight size women and men, there is a major disconnect. Do not claim to cater to the urban (i.e. Black) woman and nobody other than the unpaid intern is such. Layoffs are rampant right now to maintain the company’s bottom line. The first ones to go are the retail workers, interns, and assistant designers. These are arguably, also the most fashion forward. The higher up the totem pole we go, the less diverse and creative, the company looks. I am not sure how the country is going to recover from this new normal. While that alone is a depressing thought, I am equally afraid that 2020 marked the end of any innovation within the plus size industry.     


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