Are plus size models a good idea?

13 September 2014

Would you buy clothing shown photographed on a plus size model? We asked this question on our Facebook page recently and all our respondents said that yes they would. On one hand this was obviously great news for us to hear because as a specifically plus size retailer, we have thus far only ever used gorgeous size 16 and 18 models for our shoots. Incidentally only one of the respondents had previously purchased from us. Is it a question of say one thing and do another? It is a controversial question.

Catering properly for plus size women

Many high-end designers and high street chains alike have been scolded for not catering to plus size women, or for not representing the fuller figure in their marketing strategies. We’ve been critical ourselves of the lack of plus size models in mainstream fashion presentation. However, there has been much debate lately as to whether plus size women actually believe in what they say when appealing to designers to show their collections as worn on ‘real women’ (as opposed to the very slender models generally used by most commercial retailers.)

Studies on effect on sales figures when using Plus Size models

In fact, studies have been conducted by some brands where women have been shown the same garments photographed on a size 8 model and on a plus size model, and the styles shown on the slimmer model always seem to come out on top.

Industry led or plus size consumer led?

Of course it’s no secret that the fashion industry is very visually motivated, and perhaps the glossy magazines full of airbrushed size 8 models are in part to blame, but is there a chance that plus size women need to address their own misconceptions too?

Psychology of body shape and it's affect on shopping habits

One school of thought is that we, as plus size women are lead to believe that our bodies are temporary. That we’re just one ‘magic’ diet away from dropping two dress sizes, so why splash out on expensive designer or tailored plus size clothing from premium designer brands that hopefully won’t fit in a month or two anyway? Why not just hide your figure for now under ill fitting, shapeless expendable pieces for a fraction of the price?

Do women buy for the the woman they are or they woman they's like to be?

But there is another question to consider, other stores state that plus size women are more likely to buy clothes shown on size 10 and size 8 models. It is a view we will need to test from a business perspective ourselves. My theory is that maybe women like to buy clothes for the woman they’d like to be as opposed to the woman they are, perhaps it’s a subconscious decision. People often talk about “retail therapy”, as well as being about shopping pleasure is it also about affirming our vision of how we’d like to be or perhaps the lifestyle we’d like to have? We don’t know for sure, our own mini survey suggests that our readers are happy to buy clothing shown on a plus size model but the survey sample was much too small to be a significant indicator.

Our experience of women's view of clothes sizes

At Vida Moda, we aim to provide stylish solutions for beautiful plus size women who are confident and happy with their bodies. It is easy to say women should be happy with their body shape but the reality is that many of us aren’t and that undoubtedly affects our purchasing habits. I know plenty of women who associate themselves with a size, usually a 12 or a 14 and actually they are a 16. Of course this is a generalisation and not everyone has this view but it may be more common than we'd assume. A lot of women buy clothing that is a size too small just so they can say “this is a size X” or “I can fit into a size X”. Unfortunately when you wear clothes that are a size too small they just make you look bigger so their desire to wear a smaller dress size often backfires.

The importance of clothes that fit

I know lots of women who know their own style and they know that well designed, well fitting pieces are certainly worth their designer price tags. We’re proud to supply fashion conscious women with modern, on trend styles designed specifically with a fuller figure in mind. Quality designer clothing that fits like a dream, accentuating and flattering your figure rather than covering and disguising it with elasticated skirts and drawstring waistbands that ‘will do for now’.

Investing in good clothing is worthwhile

We believe that designer clothes are an investment, which is why we work so hard to source stylish plus size versions of style essentials that will last a lifetime and always be in fashion. By spending your money on fewer, well chosen, beautifully designed pieces, you will always look more stylish than in an outfit made of cheaper ‘make do’ styles.

Vida Modo's future use of models

So it’s safe to say, that while we won’t be advertising for size 8 models any time soon it is likely that we will do a trial of having size 12 models to see if it makes a difference to sales. It is worth pointing out that when I started Vida Moda I did a survey of what size models that other plus size retailers used. None I could see at the time used more than a size 12 or 14 and even then not across their entire range and these are very popular and well known brand names. Until now we have never used any ladies who are less than a size 16. I wish to continue to show you our new additions the way they are meant to be worn – by confident, beautiful, full figured women but we may need to adjust slightly.

This is a really important topi, so thanks for reading down to here! I’d really love to hear your thoughts on the issue – please do leave a comment here and I’ll respond to everyone.


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