Is the term "Plus Size Clothing" a dirty word in the world of designer fashion? You could be forgiven for thinking it is. This time of year is buying season for us fashion retailers. We buy now for next summer and it will be about 6 months before we receive what we’ve ordered from the fashion houses. As a retailer we exist to provider designer plus size clothing for ladies with curves.
We are trying to add new collections to our store each season. Normally this should not be a problem. We could go to any trade show and have lots of exciting brands to choose from. But apparently we are not normal, generally we only stock fashion for women that are size 16 or over and there in lies the rub. There are very few designers that will design clothes above a size 18. Considering that a good portion of the female population of the UK above the age of 30 is size 14 or upwards this is quite sad.
It means designers don’t recognise what they are doing. Yes they are artists BUT it is real people, women of varied shapes and sizes that wish to buy their creations, and yet larger women are almost snubbed in the fashion stakes. We’ve seen some fabulous collections this year and been disappointed to find we won’t be able to stock them because they aren’t available above size 18.
We did find two new designers this season who design plus size clothing, one went up to Size 28 which was good (they are quite rare) and the other up to size 24 (better than most). However we won’t be stocking either of them and here is why.
The first designer wouldn’t let us take any photographs of pieces we liked. As a retailer it is essential to be able to do this as it is 6 months before we get to see the garments again and we need a visual record of some sort of what we’ve bought to be able to plan our descriptions and marketing etc. A second reason was that beyond their signature pieces their collection was relatively poor and uncoordinated, but they are new to the UK market and we’ll visit them again next year.
The second designer was also new to the UK and their collection of plus size clothing was quite refreshing and to be fair a little different. However they wanted to charge us a premium of £15 (wholesale) per garment over size 18. Yes you did read that correctly. Naturally we had some discussion on this point and they explained why they had this policy. We understood their reasons and to a certain degree empathised with them but not to the tune of £15 extra per garment. Indeed larger size garments do require more material and to be honest in some of collections today we do pay slightly (and I mean slightly) more for the larger sizes, but nothing like the percentage that this designer was hoping or having to charge.
So on the positive side of the scales we do have some further new brands coming this season and next season and we are likely to revisit an earlier collection too as their plus size clothing collection for summer 2013 is beautiful. But overall, finding designers who will design plus size clothing collections continues to be difficult and we do so wish that more designers would take up the challenge of designing clothes for the shapes that people actually are as opposed to the shapes designers would like us to be. Next year it looks like we are going have to venture farther afield to find what we’d like to bring to the UK market.
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