Inclusive fashion is the future of runways and retail

This is how a high-fashion look comes to
life. The pattern is handmade, panels cut out delicately, then carefully stitched together. But what makes this runway piece really special is that it’s for women size 14 and up. — I wanted to disrupt the status quo putting it clear as day on the runway. I wanted to show that every size literally can be sample size. Last year ushered in the most inclusive Fashion Week’s to date, from a wider range of body sizes, to age as well as gender to racial diversity. It’s a win for those historically ignored by the industry. But the truth is there’s still a long way to go, and those who choose to embrace inclusivity are thriving. Proving that inclusivity isn’t a passing trend, it’s inevitable. We’re in the U.S. capital of fashion, New York City, to find out why. I’m Marc Bain. This is Quartz. Kellie Brown is a fashion influencer and
blogger. She says companies haven’t been thinking about plus-sized women like her. — I put style before looking three pounds smaller. I think that they historically
thought that we are trying to hide they’re usually dressing from a negative
space, meaning they’re thinking about what you want to minimize. Kelly says women of all sizes want the same styles afforded to smaller bodies. For years the latest trends were privileged to these straight body consumers meaning sizes zero to twelve. This left plus-sized shoppers to dig through shades of shapeless beige. in a section relegated to the far corners of a shop or the internet. Women over size 14 are estimated to make up 68 percent of the U.S. population but only 0.1 percent of the luxury market and 2.5 percent of what’s sold by the largest multi brand retailers are comprised of plus sizes. This is also a global reality. Not one plus-size model walked the London or Milan Fashion Week’s for Fall 2018. and only last year did the Middle East get
its first plus-size model. Carla Buzasi forecasts global trends in the
fashion industry. — I think if you look back actually not that long ago you had these highly influential creative directors who sat in their lovely ivory
tower and then envisage an amazing product whether that was a shoe or a dress and
then on consumers came and bought it. In the past consumers outside the norm were never considered. Few brands in the plus-size space have the same name recognition as the company where we’re standing right now, and that’s Eloquii. We’re in their Long Island City warehouse where they’re busy keeping up
with all the trends and an online customer base that’s really eager to
adopt them. Mariah Chase is the CEO of Eloquii. — Really fashion-forward customers said ‘Oh my god I have actually never had access to this type of clothing before and now I feel like I can, via my clothing,
express who I want to be.’ Why do you think so many brands have dragged their feet in you know expanding their size range to serve all these customers. — It wasn’t that this customer was considered and then designers were like ‘No no we’re not going to do anything for her.’ It’s that she wasn’t considered. There was stigma attached to it. Since 2015 the company’s revenue growth has tripled a lot of their success comes from the fact that they came of age alongside the internet and social media. — The power shift has totally changed now, and now it’s about consumer envisaging what they want, and the most successful brands are answering that needs from consumer. And this isn’t just about empowered consumers enabling choice, it’s about holding a brand’s core values its ethos to a higher standard. Kellie started the hashtag #FatatFashionWeek to call out the fashion industry on failing to serve the needs of plus-sized
women. And other women started using it — It started popping up at Fashion Week in London and in Paris. So people they thought it was cool and they thought it was a really cool way to go to this hashtag see what women were doing and
that we do exist in in this industry and looking good while doing it. And research shows that brand ethos is becoming just as important for the bottom line as product quality. Look at the example of Victoria’s Secret. They’ve lost their near monopoly on the lingerie industry. It hasn’t helped that an exec recently made transphobic and fat phobic comments. Sales have plummeted and the runway show views have reached an all-time low. The next step for a lot of these size inclusive brands is to convert mainstream retailers. — The size six woman does not have better taste she just has better options. Alex Waldman and Polina Veksler created Universal Standard, a high quality minimalist brand with sizes from double zero to 40, in store. Not only is Universal Standard providing women of all sizes with a space to shop and check fit, they’ve taken a revolutionary approach to fit. Most brands only use one fit model, which is an actual human being usually a size four or six. Designers then use a formula to scale up and down for size. Universal standard uses eleven fit models to make sure there’s integrity in the fit across all 42 of their sizes. — We dubbed it ‘micrograding.’ We actually looked between each size
sets and we recognized the fact that just because somebody is getting bigger doesn’t mean they’re getting taller Major brands like Goop and J.Crew have approached universal standard to learn about inclusive sizing. J.Crew is building out a line sizes 0 to 32. — We hope that other household name brands would see the value in being inclusive. When it comes down to it size
inclusivity or any kind of inclusivity is not just the right thing to do, at the end of the day, it’s good for the bottom line. How big an opportunity and you know
in terms of dollars are we talking here? —This is hundreds of millions of dollars
worth opportunity. The plus-size market in the US was estimated to be worth 21 billion in 2016. Companies can’t afford to ignore these
shoppers. But the truth is size inclusivity is expensive. Universal Standard employs 10 more fit models than your average brand. More fabric is used and patterns need to be altered. — There’s some very real barriers to entry and doing this well is not that easy. Carla says ultimately it comes down to who and what brands value. —There are negative effects. But I think when people get over that, people thinking very much about short term costs this isn’t about a 5 year payback this isn’t about a 10 year payback this is about payback within a season. because the number of people who can buy that product is exponentially greater. Runways worldwide can’t continue displaying a fantasy that reflects a world for the select few, because clearly change is coming whether brands like it or not. — I hope that is no longer an issue or maybe in 5-10 years it’s just not a talking point and maybe then they can talk about the clothes again.


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