My (Sustainable) Middle Finger to Size Biases in the Fashion Industry

Ah, the Chanel inspired suit.

She stormed our little screens during this lockdown and became the item that we just had to have. We were able to become Blair Waldorf with a simple purchase. But the gossip is that not every fashionista was afforded that privilege. 

I got so desperate that I was willing to break my two-year preloved clothes streak. I frantically searched different brands for one of these beauties. I found many, but none of them came in anything above a size 14, and if they did, the measurements were awkward and didn’t reflect the realistic plus sized woman – only an hour glass, tight-tummied one. What was I to do? I could lose weight – the Chloe Ting challenge was still sitting in my watch later list on YouTube after all. But I found myself frustrated at the wider problem at hand:

It wasn’t like these brands couldn’t make this suit in my size. Their designers were more than capable of doing it, even if it would cost a little bit more to make. There was a whispered assertion that the Chanel inspired suit was beautiful, my body was beautiful (in politically correct settings), but the Chanel inspired suit on my body was much the opposite. There was an elephant in the room, and it seemed to be me; the subtle fat phobia was not so subtle after all.

Sadly, I wasn’t alone; I spoke to friends, family, other writers and anyone who would stop to chat; there was a general consensus that they could not truly have the wardrobe that they wanted. Not because it was too expensive, but because it was not available in their size or the fitting was off. It almost felt as if the fashion industry had taken up some sort of paternal role, where they’d withhold the best trends from plus-sized women because they knew what was “good” for us.

Hello? Are we not the consumers here?

I was about to give up on this trend and admire from afar when I had a light bulb moment. I have a sewing machine. I have materials. I can make this suit. Not only that, but I can make it my own, and nobody on this planet will ever have my rendition of it. Call it exclusionary, but I like to fight fire with fire. So I got to work. Earlier in the month, I had thrifted a beautiful pair of dusty rose pink jacquard printed curtains for this project. My process was informed by WithWendy and other sewing channels that had made their own Chanel inspired suits. 

Other than Youtube, the colour was chosen under the influence of Pinterest, where my obsession with neutral tones really took shape. I was always thinking about what would look good against my skin and not wash me out, which led me to dye the suit brown. From there, I ordered 5 meters of cream chain trim and gold and some vintage buttons to attach. Alongside the complex physical process of making a suit, mentally processing the reason I had to make the suit in the first place changed my perspective on the industry completely. From that, I formulated some advice from me to me:

Like that one guy who doesn’t return your calls, if they wanted to they really would. 

If the fashion industry are not making space for plus-sized women, trust me when I say that they have the resources to do so. For obvious reasons there are some constraints on smaller brands but a lot of brands are without excuse. I was really glad that I could channel my frustration into something positive. If brands will not accommodate me, I know that my own creativity will, in a way that the world has never seen.

-Pepper

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