We’ve been enjoying a good debate on our Facebook page. We recently posted a picture of a plus size male mannequin on our Facebook wall and asked people who’ve liked our page would they like to see more plus sized mannequins in shops. Broadly speaking, the answer was “yes” from the relatively small number of people who responded. There were quite a few insightful answers too, which has given us some things to think about for the future.
It prompted us to post a link on our wall to remind our friends that we use size 16 and 18 models on our site and for them to go and have a look. Some of our readers then provided further opinion, some of which were questions and some were observations about how we present our plus size clothing collections.
As a result I’ve written 3 blog posts discussing the points raised. They are excellent points for debate and provided useful feedback for us and thus deserved a response longer than would be practical for a wall post. This is the 1st article in a series of 3, links to the other 2 can be found at the end of this article.
The first point made was that while our models are size 16 and 18 they are well proportioned and not truly representative of “average overweight women”. This is a fair comment and something we are going to experiment a little with next year.
Another reader commented that while she may find plus size mannequins helpful in judging shape and height she found them uncomfortable to look at.
When starting Vida Moda I considered this issue very carefully and actually went against the general trend. Today I’ve revisited my original research and nothing much has changed despite the relatively positive press that plus size models are receiving. I’ve revisited 7 competitor sites to see how they use plus size models to display their ranges.
Many of these competitors are very well known and all of them much longer established than Vida Moda. None of them use models larger than a size 14. Of the 7 there only 3 (at a push) that are using size 14 models and that is NOT for all their clothing. Go and check for yourselves.
None of the 7 sites or Vida Moda are using models that are representative of the “average overweight woman”. At the moment Vida Moda is the only one of the 8 who is trying to get closer to representing the average plus sized woman. Fashion industry specialists would tell us we are wrong to use plus sized models, that it doesn’t work, that people don’t really want to see plus size models displaying fashion.
Quite simply the fashion industry would much prefer that everybody was roughly the same size and the same height! The way clothes are manufactured and the way designs are scaled for different sizes is a testament to this. The fashion industry on a broad basis is pretty poor at accommodating different body shapes and it’s a factor I try very hard to take into account when sourcing our collections.
Feedback we’ve had on Facebook would indicate the specialists may be correct! Women are very critical of the way clothes look on other women and the word “unflattering” has popped up on more than one occasion, despite our models being plus sized and beautiful but well proportioned! The criticism is indirect but it is there.
Vida Moda is still a new business. We are trying to subtly buck the trend, but it’s difficult and we may well be wrong to do so. My own shopping experiences over the years have led me to believe that there can be a better shopping choice for larger women. Getting it right and communicating it clearing and effectively is a real challenge.
I hope in some small way we can change this position, but it is a long journey and we are only at the beginning.
Access the other two articles in this series by following the links below
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