Article written by Natalie Wakeling
Plus-size fashion that’s relevant, bold, stylish, and easily accessible, this is what we want!
Gone are the days when a curvy woman would settle for what was an afterthought of bad florals cut into a shapeless sack. The more coverage the better, as apparently anyone over a size 14 doesn’t want to show their skin or look fashionable. How much further from the truth could this be.
The perception that every curvy woman doesn’t want to show her arms or legs is outdated. Look around your local mall, and if you do see a store offering anything up to a size 26 it is usually very dated, with terrible styling, bad necklines, and incorrect hem lengths. The silhouette has been given no thought at all, and the model is always portrayed as bubbly and funny.
After spending 22 years in the fashion industry, I can truthfully say that I have seen it all when it comes to the lack of thought and true inclusiveness of women above a size 12, be it in television, reality shows, and fashion. And the big moment for myself and many others is where I see this horror story played out in full display every year Fashion Week.
Then comes the media circus where a brand may throw in a few plus-size models in a parade and call it inclusive, not knowing that us curve babes are a very savvy bunch that can see it for what it really is – a publicity stunt and tokenism. There are panels and debates on TV, and women jumping up and down about the lack of representation and offerings for them, but every year thin privilege still remains the priority.
A real progressive change in the industry needs to occur at a grassroots level, with the organisers, the editors, and the stylists. We need allies. We need other women that are not plus size to champion this change for us.
So why are true size-inclusive designers that offer fashion-forward styles excluded from main fashion features? Probably because designers haven’t been given the opportunity to show how amazing we can make a plus-size woman look when her body has been thoughtfully designed for.
Look around your office, and you will see most women do not look like a supermodel, and they are more than likely wearing a size 14. The attitude in the fashion industry, and with brands not extending their sizes, is leaving them financially exposed.
I feel that women are annoyed, angry & frustrated. I can still squeeze myself into some items offered at a department store, so I can only empathise with women that have a lust for style and cannot find what they want.
In 2006 I launched “Embody Women” as I could see that there was a direct need for premium denim that wasn’t designed for barbie and went up to a size 26. People gasped when I told them I sold jeans online, I would hear comments that there was no way a curvy woman would spend $250 for a pair of Jeans.
I’m glad to say this opinion was outdated and old-fashioned, and my collection now offers resort wear to evening wear, and yes my clients are more than happy to pay for Australian Made products that have been made specifically for them.
I see a regression to old tactics, with magazines still publishing “How to Get a Bikini Body in 10 days”. I mean really, is this even relevant content? While we are starting to see women of all ages and races gracing beauty campaigns and high fashion brands, we are yet to conquer this space for curves in Australia.
Once upon a time, editors would use excuses to exclude curves from fashion, such as: “we can’t find any samples big enough”, or “there are no plus size brands available”. Today in Australia, we have a new breed of brave women that have flipped the status quo.
So, let’s make some noise. Write emails to your newspapers and fashion magazines, and request to see more features on fashion for women over size 14.
About The Author
Natalie Wakeling started her career as a global plus-size model in 1994. From Ford Models in New York, to proudly modeling some of the best Australian plus-size labels. Transitioning from model to designer, her philosophy comes from a very personal place. Natalie prioritises the fit, structure, and quality of each garment in her range. Her brand, Embody Women, was founded with the ethos that size does not define style and that all women should be able to find beautiful well-fitted garments.