Not everyone can be a size two, not everyone can even be a size ten, so how is it, in this world of excessive consumption and larger proportions, do so many women get shut out of the world of fashion? If you’re too large, you seem to be herded off to the oversize sweater and sad saggy pant department, instead of experiencing the glories of high end fashion. But as pointed out by Christina Binkley, in a style article for the US’ Wall Street Journal, the tides may be turning.
Most designers only size their lines up to a size twelve, but the average American woman’s size is a fourteen, so clearly, there is a disconnect. Some designers however, are beginning to offer larger, ‘queen size’ garments up to a size twenty-four, opening up a whole new market that had essentially been outcast from the fashion community. Labels such as Tadashi Shoji, Anne Klein, Ellen Tracy, and a few others are recreating their ready-to-wear clothing for larger women, although this is hardly a trend embraced by the big-whigs in the community (would Kaiser Karl ever deign to dress a very curvy woman, no).
There are two looming questions that seem to swirl around this news: a.) when is fashion art and when is it commerce, and b.) when should fashion be inclusive, if ever? The first one seems quite easy; Martin Margiela‘s work is indeed wearable art, and like so many of his intellectual contemporaries (save except perhaps for Rei Kawakubo who is bridging the gap with H&M), their art has no concern for commerce. So few designers make any real profit from their work, that this question seems to divide many just starting in the industry: who wants to make money and who wants to love what they do? When funds are scarce, it’s difficult to balance the two ideals.
The second question; however, proves more difficult. One can argue that fashion should be egalitarian; that everyone should be able to participate; it is after all one of the most enjoyable forms of self expression, and everyone should certainly be allowed to express their style and personality. On the flip side, fashion stalwarts argue that certain things will only ever look good on a size two, and that fashion must remain an exclusive art form; after all, if we could all afford a Gautier dress (or fit into one for that matter) would we hold them in such high esteem? But what sort of message is the industry sending young girls when heavier figures are deemed ugly and unsuitable for such elegance?
What do you think? Is there such a thing as too fat for fashion?