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FIT Launches Plus-Size Design Course Led by Designer Mallorie Dunn


In my younger years, if you had asked me where to find on-trend plus-size clothing, the first thing that would’ve come to mind was Forever 21+. Partly because I was young and broke, but also because I was a fashion student, I had little interest in the offerings of well-known brands that provided plus-size options consisting solely of matronly clothing. Anyone who’s part of the fat community knows exactly what I mean.

After that period, I noticed a shift toward more size-inclusive fashion choices. Eloquii, initially launched as a part of The Limited, regained independence and became available online in 2014. In 2013, H&M launched their e-commerce site that featured extended sizes not available in stores. Target followed suit with its plus-size line, Ava & Viv, in 2015. The year 2019, marked the store’s 20th-anniversary collaboration with designers, including Phillip Lim and Anna Sui, and marked a significant step in offering high-end designs in a broader range of sizes. That same year, Anthropologie entered the plus-size market. Interestingly enough, I had worked there before this and often had to disappoint customers by letting them know that our store didn’t carry any clothing beyond size 14.

US sales of women’s plus-size apparel reached $21.4 billion in 2016, according to one market research group, and in the UK, the number of plus-size brands rose by 50.7% between 2015 and 2020, according to market data research from Gitnux. Plus-size clothing in retail stores has experienced significant growth over the past eight years. However, as highlighted by creator Eve in a TikTok video, all of this progress appears to be plateauing.

So what’s changed? In 2021, Vogue reported a resurgence of Y2K fashion trends. Kim Kardashian garnered significant attention for her remarkable weight loss efforts in her quest to fit into a dress originally tailored for Marilyn Monroe in 1962. Later that same year, Miu Miu put micro miniskirts on the runway as part of their spring/summer 2023 collection. And 2023, saw a rise in the popularity of Ozempic, a medication to manage type 2 diabetes, touted as a “magic” weight-loss drug, with a nature-made cousin, Berberine, following closely behind. All of this coincided with the usual New Year’s resolutions to achieve a ”summer body” and shopping for a new wardrobe. With these shifts in fashion trends and weight management perceptions, attitudes toward plus-size inclusion may diminish as societal desires and priorities regress.

Extreme diet culture is nothing new and does not change the fact that most women are plus-size. According to research cited by Racked, an estimated 68% of American women wear a size 14 or above. (The average size is between a US size 16 and 18.) And yet, only .06% of the looks during spring/summer Fashion Week in the US and Europe were size 14 and above.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.