riverisland_89158108420785

River Island is one of my favourite high street fashion shops. I’ve always admired their clothes… From afar. Even as a teen I was always one or two sizes too big to actually shop there. So the news that they will be releasing almost a hundred plus size items got me really excited. And then came their press release, announcing RI Curve. Here are some tweets that summarise the disappointment better than I can:

RI Curve’s development has taken the exact same trajectory as boohoo.com, Missguided, Dorothy Perkins, Mango and Forever 21’s plus size collections before them: initial excitement, puzzlement at the misuse of body positivity slogans/”real women”/references to curves in their teaser campaigns… And finally, the disappointment when the official announcement comes around, because they only service a smidgen of women beyond size 18. Bonus points if it’s only available in a sprinkle of shops – everyone else has to order online (a.k.a. pay the Fat Tax).

In RI Curve’s case, the collection stops at a size 24 (a US20), and will be available in ‘top stores’ only. So, you guessed it, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to waltz into your local River Island with your head held high and try before you buy.

Only time will tell if they complete the set and end up revealing 75 sad, lifeless imitations of their main range.

riverisland_89158286979448

Look, I’ve got no doubts that the team are working as hard as they can on this, that they believe in RI Curve and want it to succeed. And I genuinely think the collection will be fairly trendy, given River Island’s brand. Indeed, the working illustration looks great! (Although blazers and jeans are not my thing.)

But this just cements – for me at least – that there is still such a cognitive dissonance between what fat consumers want vs what the fashion industry are willing to give them.

What does a fashion-conscious fat babe want? They want to wear the same cool, on-trend and downright fabulous shit their friends wear. Surely the logical solution for a fashion retailer looking to harness fatties’ spending power is to introduce larger sizes to the clothes they’re already producing?

But, fashion brands don’t. They won’t – and they insist it’s because they can’t. So they dance like fuck around the issue and act like it’s the same thing.

Personally, I believe their resistance has more to do with brand management than any logistical excuses. Fashion-focused retailers have thin women as their main demographic, for better or worse. That is who they’re looking to please. That is who they are: even in plus size only retail head offices, it’s really rare to see someone who is actually plus sized. And as any fat person who’s walked into a mainstream fashion shop will know, thin women do not welcome you with open arms on the shop floor. (Obviously #notallthinwomen, and all that malarkey. But way, way more often than many think.)

With that in mind, is it any wonder attempts at opening established fashion brands up to big(ger) customers has to be kept separate, and dulled down? Think about it. If your brand rests on a very particular demographic who famously do not want to be associated with fat people, are you going to enable those same fat people to parade about wearing exactly the same outfits? (My god, I wish someone would. That’d be brilliant, wouldn’t it?) If you’re a multi-national retailer, are you going to create a PR nightmare and go up against the likes of Jamie fucking Oliver and fucking Jamelia (lol), to create nice clothes for fat people and ENCOURAGE OBESITY?! No, I guess you wouldn’t.

This is exactly why Beth Ditto’s new collection is so important – there are no restrictions like this. No advertisers or industry bods to consider, or market research featuring solely women who hate themselves to base their final designs on. It’s by fat people, for fat people. It makes all the difference in the world.

Straight size fashion brands want fabulous fatties’ money but they want to assuage their core customers’ fatphobia at the same time? Maybe they’d be better off leaving us to it. I’d rather that than one patronising, separate-and-inequal collection after another.

All in, or out.


-There seems to be a problem with Bloglovin’, in that the new feed wasn’t pulling through. So if you use that, follow from this link instead

Hey everyone! Two days on the trot, wow. Remember to enter my birthday giveaway!

I do feel like I neglect the blog far too much, so I’ve resolved to update more frequently – well, as frequent as I can, haha. As a result, here is the outfit I’m wearing today, my attempt at dressing casually and/or comfortably.

fy horizontal stripes!
Top: H&M (BiB range)
Skirt: Yours Clothing
Belt: Very.co.uk
Necklace: Tatty Devine
Flats: Primark

What I’m wearing looks deceptively smart, but the fact is both the top and skirt are made of soft jersey, so are unbeliveably comfortable. The length of the skirt is perfect for me: not knee length, but not indecent either! Just a quickie about the belt: I can see in this photo and the one featuring it before that it looks as though I’m subscribed to the “boob under belt” phenomenon. I’m actually not – but I am so incredibly short-waisted that the belt covers my entire waist from straight under my boobs to the top of my bum! Just thought I would clear that up, in case you were wondering.

The top is my first ever purchase from H&M’s BiB range. I tend to find it awfully dowdy and old. Even this top is fairly plain but it’s at least fairly versatile. While buying it I did try on a dress from the main range, in a size L:

02
I loved it! I really am brainwashed by this season’s colour scheme now, although I’ve only let myself buy one thing in a grungy colour. That’s being saved for another post, however.

And check out this awesome punk PU bodycon dress from River Island, size 18:

04
What do you reckon? It was too tight to be comfortable on me, alas. But some of you on the smaller end of plus should definitely give it a go.

blackdreaa
Getting it on wasn’t any trouble at all – but you see how the sleeves are made of leather? Well it took me a long time to get those f*ckers off, haha! Actually it was only about 5 minutes, but felt more like 5 hours. After much huffing and puffing (and pausing to let out a massive guffaw at my situation) it did come off though. A happy ending, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Having read the recent ‘Plus Size Wars‘ article a few weeks ago, which focused on the difficulty of designing for plus sized people because of their eclectic measurements (as though slimmer people all exactly the same?!) it does make me think – there’s not THAT much going on with this dress. Sure, it has quilted PU, but they are only panels. The only vaguely difficult structuring is on the sleeves as they are also lined. I mean, is it really so inconceivable to create this in sizes larger than an 18? I don’t think it is. Perhaps the inconceivable thing is people’s attitudes to fat people wearing such daring clothes?