We’re not entirely sure we like the term “plus size” – the statistics are, that the average woman in Australia and America is about size 14, therefore it seems quite ridiculous that the average size is considered “plus size”! But that’s a debate for another time…
We’ve been asked by a few customers to add a greater variety of larger sizes to our collection – we would love to (we have had a few), but we do face a few challenges while searching for the perfect pieces. At Omika, we specialise in dresses which are knee length, not low cut in the front or back and have short sleeves or longer. Finding stylish dresses which fit these criteria is a challenge on its’ own, and finding a greater variety of sizes, even more so. We aim to cater for all sizes, and where possible, have included plus size dresses in our collection such as the Shelby and Bailey dresses:
So why is it so difficult to find larger sizes? The first reason is resources: at Omika, we can’t wait to hire a fashion buyer, who can hunt down more amazing styles – this will happen as we grow and find the right investor. To give you an idea of how time consuming searching can be, American based Modcloth contacted 1500 designers and only 35 of those would supply plus size clothing… yet another needle in a haystack!
The second reason, is that designers face a few challenges which make it difficult to create a greater variety of sizes, and whilst these challenges do exist, we hope that more designers will take these challenges head on and create gorgeous clothing which we can add to our collection. Here are a few of the challenges they face:
When designing clothing for larger sizes, it’s not as simple as scaling up, in the same proportions from a sample size. Mariana Leung said “Merely sizing up from that (sample) into larger sizes would be treating a plus size customer like a rectangle – flattering no one… to produce full-figured clothing well, it needs to be fit on a model that represents the customer.” This means more time, more models, more cost.
Founder of Mei Smith, Ayanna Wu Celestin said, “Once you get past an 8 or 10, the sizing gets a bit trickier. You have to constantly look at how certain areas are designed, like the chest area or arm holes. You have to constantly adapt and adjust the measurements if needed.”
Designer Trudy Hanson said, “Garment production is a really expensive business… there’s just more stuff going on, like darts, seams and shaping…”
Naturally, as our bodies get bigger, exactly where we carry that extra weight can vary so much. Mariana Leung said “The bigger the size, the more ways a body can carry the weight. Very thin bodies don’t have a lot of places to carry the measurements, so it isn’t a problem in small sizes. The bigger you go, a person can be top heavy, bottom heavy, wide hips or full from behind and still be the same dress size.” Creating designs for larger sizes is more complex – a challenge that not all designers want to take on (but please, please do!!!).
Designers who don’t specialise in plus size fashion may have less time to create larger sizes, Mariana said “Full figured styles often take their direction from the brand’s main collection. While the central collection has an entire season to develop, the plus-size styles are often put into work only after the regular collection has been approved.”
Since it’s not simply a case of scaling up current designs, adjusting a great fitting dress for larger sizes requires more time, which is costly for designers. In terms of designers who do simply scale up, Mariana Leung said “There have been plenty of companies who try, and the clothing ultimately does not sell because the fit is awful. The executives then conclude that they do not have a significant plus size customer base and then refuse to invest in it.” Similarly, fashion blogger Sarah Conley said, “Retailers (are) not seeing the returns they want to see, and consumers aren’t seeing what they want to buy.” If customers aren’t seeing styles that they love, then designers and retailers wrongly believe there is no market for plus size fashion, that it doesn’t sell – when really, the problem is poor design. As some companies have found, being a dedicated 14+ designer is easier than trying to cater for all sizes.
So where does Omika stand on plus size dresses? We’d love to see more designs which fit our brand, in all sizes! If you have a favourite designer, tell us about them! In the meantime, we’ll keep searching! We also know that a few customers have said they’d love to see our dresses modelled on larger women too, and we agree, it would definitely give everyone a clearer idea of how each style looks on different body types – this is definitely in our plans for the future!