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As to the plus-size issue, Barry says, “We are not there yet. We are seeing a slow push, more representation in print and on the runway. Surface-level changes are well intentioned, but we need to be having larger, systemic, constant conversations. Bring people who are going to wear the clothing into the process as co-creators.” No one, he says, seems to ask plus-sized consumers what they actually want.
There is “still a lot of work to be done for plus-size clothing to reflect current fashion trends.” Barry says “fat phobia is present in the tropes around design. It is a system of devaluing plus-size consumers with unfashionable, ill-fitting, badly made clothing.” As to design, he says, “the concept is that bold prints and patterns are meant to disguise and distract. That core belief is archaic and discriminatory.”
To get to the place where all bodies are celebrated and showcased, he says, we have to change the way we think about those bodies. “Look at TV and movies,” he says, where plus-size actors are never the sexy, romantic lead, and aren’t given the range of clothing to express a full range of emotions. “They are the happy and funny best friend; they can’t be alluring or desirable, or fashionable,” he says.
Barry shares some suggestions for good sources for plus-size clothing with a minimalist vibe. He cites Vancouver’s Free Label, Toronto’s Hilary MacMillan and a great Guelph, Ont., consignment shop focused on plus sizes called Consign Your Curves. At the designer end, Barry points to the U.S. tech startup 11Honoré.com, which has developed relationships with international designer labels who have plus size options not previously available at department stores (that frequently max out at size 12 on the racks). Also notable: Nordstrom, ASOS, Joe Fresh and Old Navy are some standout sources for extended sizing.