“Yes, yes, we do Large Size, we go up to 42! » a saleswoman proudly tells me and I almost choke on laughter (nervous or yellow, your choice).
The scene takes place at the international ready-to-wear show in Paris, Who's Next : 1,500 French and international ready-to-wear and accessories brands flock there for 4 days to present their collections to retail buyers multi-brands, department stores or e-commerce. I went there to see the excellent Valérie Tribes, who created @chiffonlepodcast host a round table on fashion... and also take a look at the world of so-called plus size brands, curious to see its evolution...
Out of 1500 brands… there are only 34 identified as “plus size” or “Grande Taille”… which makes 2.3%! Is it possible ? So few brands? Okay, let's be honest. I know full well that there are many more in this universe but that not all of them are exhibiting at the show. Either they don't need it as they already have their own distribution network, or they are very young brands and exhibiting at this show certainly offers visibility but comes at a cost that is too heavy for a start-up structure to bear. But even putting this parameter aside…34 brands! 2.3% is so low!
I sift through the list of brands, without judging the style. This is not the objective and after all, there is something for everyone.
Many start at 42 and go up to 52, just like the Atelier 312 collection . Others start at 36 and go up to 50/52, specifying however that this does not concern all models or that certain models stopping at 42/44 are oversized and therefore fit large (great, but what about years when fashion moved to slim and small sizes? At Atelier 312, we also advocate consistency of sizes across models). One brand tells me to adapt the patterns from size 48 and not “just make them bigger”. Good point for her! And it is also our ethic to create cuts for curvy bodies (we tell you more about the expertise of a cut here ).
I hear everything: “we use stretch materials for large sizes, it’s easier for the cut” (argh…. Nothing against a little elastane if it helps with comfort, like for example in our Paris blouse or our Tokyo dress but not entirely stretchy only to facilitate manufacturing: technique at the service of style, and not to its detriment). Or the famous brand which goes up to 42. History of culture no doubt.
Other well-known brands are not identified in the large size category but I know that they go up to 48. They did not want to appear in this list so as not to be classified as “large size”…. Damned!
Ultimately I have mixed feelings…both disappointed but not surprised. The concept of plus size differs so much from country to country, from person to person, from brand to brand.
A good point however: the “Large Size” course has been set up at the show for several seasons. He keeps getting better. It is more and more visible, hostesses are now briefed on the subject and can inform visitors. We must therefore salute the organizers, aware that Plus Size fashion is a reality, and that it is necessary to disseminate it. The lines are moving. Finally !
And when you think about it, more than a size number, what is important is the accuracy of the cut and wearing the right size for you. And it is our ambition at Atelier 312 to advise women on the right size and to offer them pieces with a perfect fit, in which they will feel beautiful. Quite simply !
Sabine, co-founder of Atelier 312