Design educator, author and Project Runway co-host Tim Gunn published a strongly worded letter in The Washington Post, saying that the fact that designers do not create "plus-size" clothes is a "disgrace." Check out the most notable excerpts from his letter below.
Gunn says he often hears from "plus-sized" women asking what kind of clothes they should shop for in order to look as good as runway models.
"At a Q&A after one event in Nashville in 2010, a woman stood up, took off her jacket and said, with touching candor: 'Tim, look at me. I’m a box on top, a big, square box. How can I dress this shape and not look like a fullback?' It was a question I’d heard over and over during the tour: Women who were larger than a size 12 always wanted to know, How can I look good, and why do designers ignore me?"
Gunn says that the industry largely ignores the problem, even when clothing over size 12 could potentially make designers billions of dollars.
"I love the American fashion industry, but it has a lot of problems, and one of them is the baffling way it has turned its back on plus-size women. It’s a puzzling conundrum. The average American woman now wears between a size 16 and a size 18, according to new research from Washington State University. There are 100 million plus-size women in America, and, for the past three years, they have increased their spending on clothes faster than their straight-size counterparts. There is money to be made here ($20.4 billion, up 17 percent from 2013). But many designers — dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or simply too cowardly to take a risk — still refuse to make clothes for them."
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One designer Gunn says has slammed "curvy" women? Karl Lagerfeld:
"They say the plus-size woman is complicated, different and difficult, that no two size 16s are alike. Some haven’t bothered to hide their contempt. 'No one wants to see curvy women' on the runway, Karl Lagerfeld, head designer of Chanel, said in 2009."
Gunn even gives specific reasons as to how "plus-sized" clothing can make a woman look fabulous.
"There is no reason larger women can’t look just as fabulous as all other women. The key is the harmonious balance of silhouette, proportion and fit, regardless of size or shape. Designs need to be reconceived, not just sized up; it’s a matter of adjusting proportions. The textile changes, every seam changes. Done right, our clothing can create an optical illusion that helps us look taller and slimmer. Done wrong, and we look worse than if we were naked."
He ends the letter with a powerful conclusion that "women of every size can look good", adding his classic one-liner.
"Despite the huge financial potential of this market, many designers don’t want to address it. [...] But this is now the shape of women in this nation, and designers need to wrap their minds around it. I profoundly believe that women of every size can look good. But they must be given choices. [...] Larger women look great in clothes skimming the body, rather than hugging or cascading. There’s an art to doing this. Designers, make it work."
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