BY AJ PERRENOUD
Picture this: you’re browsing a sustainable shop’s website, thinking of all of the cute sundresses they have, all the cute styles of jeans. You find a pair that really catches your eye, you go to check the sizes and... They only go up to a 12. You sigh, but luck is on your side because they have an extended sizes section. But wait, they don’t offer the same style in a size 16.
This is a familiar story for us who are plus sized. Sustainable brands will often carry sizes 0 through 12 while the average woman in America is a size 16 through 18 (1). Putting an Extended Sizes section to carry sizes 14-18 “others” average sized women. Oftentimes brands may not even offer sizes after 12 at all. The lack of sizes even within extended sizes points to issues within fashion as a whole. Women past a size 12 are given limited options when trying to shop sustainably. If the average sized woman is 3 or 4 sizes bigger than a brand carries, they aren’t given the option to shop sustainably.
Brands will often not include the same style of clothing in their extended sizes range. They may have 300 styles in standard-size dresses, but only carry 15 of those styles in extended sizes. The limited catalogue for plus size women to pick from pushes them away from sustainable brands and ultimately the sustainable movement. Not being given options in clothing limits where plus size women will shop. If they believe that a company does not care to show a diverse size range, they will take their time and money elsewhere.
Sustainability should be including every body type in it, because everybody wears clothes.
Everybody creates textile waste but how we choose to shop can help to limit the amount of clothing waste we accumulate and how we choose to treat our clothing. Sustainable brands only including sizes 0 through 12 pushes anybody above that to look for clothing in fast fashion brands. That is the exact opposite of what we need. Fast fashion has various brands that cater exclusively to women who are size 12 and above. We need that kind of energy put into ensuring that sustainable brands also cater to size 12 and above, and not just with limited styles.
If we can see growth in size availability, we will see an increase of individual women supporting the sustainable fashion movement, because everybody deserves to feel like they can contribute to the cause.
Nunes, Mary. “It's True: The Average Size of the American Woman Is No Longer 14.” Byrdie, Byrdie, 13 Apr. 2020, www.byrdie.com/average-body-weight.