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In the fight for size inclusivity, tailored clothing is a secret weapon

Almost nothing about shopping as a plus size woman is fair. Many popular brands do not produce clothing for the 67% of women in the United States who wear size 16 or larger. Those who often produce watered-down versions of the pieces in straight sizes (think: a longer hem, shorter sleeves, a less fitted silhouette) – and almost never stock the plus size iterations in stores. In turn, taller shoppers are resigned to shopping online, where sizing is confusing and parts often arrive drastically different from e-comm models (mostly right sized). Welcome to a warped reality where tall women, who make up the majority of America’s shopping population, have to make do with rare and often deceptive online offers. “What’s this [society, as well as the fashion industry] taught us to believe [was the only option]”, Explains Marie Denee, founder of plus size fashion site The Curvy Fashionista, to Refinery29. In her own experience, shopping was never about what she did or didn’t want, but rather what was available. Denee had had enough and finally decided on a new way of shopping that met her needs and wanted better. Like so many other plus size women who wanted more choices, she turned to bespoke websites. While generally associated with durability (as a means ordered as needed, after all) or very expensive tailoring clothing, made to order means something entirely different for plus size buyers. According to Denee, the production approach, where every piece of clothing is produced to meet a customer’s specifications, allows women like her to make the kinds of styling decisions they have long refused. In the tailor-made space, large buyers don’t have to take it or leave it. Suddenly faced with a plethora of options, they can decide what hems they want and what sleeve lengths best suit their body. It’s liberating, and it’s also a lot more convenient than placing an order and hoping for the best. When a part is made to your exact measurements, you can count on its actual size when it arrives. It is not a new concept. “For more people, you say tailor-made, we think of eShakti,” says Denee, referring to the New York and India-based clothing company that allows women ages 0 to 36 to customize their clothes to suit their needs. their size and style since opening for e-commerce in 2001. (EShakti’s offices are in New York, while execution and operations are based in India.) “From the start, our intention has been to making clothes for real women and being as inclusive as possible ”. Sudeep Kashyap, eShakti’s CMO, tells Refinery29. Although it has never been specifically geared towards plus size women – the company focuses on all underserved markets, including plus size, petite and plus size consumers – its impressive size range and his dedication to fit made him popular on large social media sites and blogs. That, and they offer something Denee and other plus size women have always dreamed of: the ability to choose their own style, rather than just stick with what’s available. “We focus on delivering what the customer wants instead of trying to impose our aesthetic or preferences on them,” says Kashyap. “It gave us the flexibility to add those changes to the things we really needed or wanted. It allowed us to create. Marie Denee, Founder of The Curvy Fashionista On the website, shoppers can design clothes that flout the prevailing belief that being a size 20 automatically means you want a longer hem, a thicker strap, or a flowing silhouette. “It gave us the flexibility to add those changes to the things we really needed or wanted,” says Denee. “It allowed us to create.” Because of this – and the power of word of mouth – the brand has become the official benchmark of a cohort of buyers: “For more people,” Denee says, “eShakti is our destination.” Miranda Schultz, the blogger behind plus size lifestyle blog The Plus Life, learned about eShakti from one of her readers. “I struggled to find the perfect fit, especially for non-stretchy clothes, and I was tired of ordering clothes that didn’t fit well and living with a poor fit or finding the time to fit them. make to measure, ”she said. She loved the ease of the custom ordering process, as well as the affordable prices. At first, worried about whether her coins would eventually hug her arms properly – a challenge she faces when shopping online – her qualms disappeared when her package arrived: “It was perfect!” Emily Ho, the Louisville, KY-based blogger behind Authentically Emmie, also thought the retailer looked too good to be true when another plus-size blogger told her about it (the word-of-mouth really got off the hook. ): “But when you desperately need options and you have a long history of fitness issues, you’re ready to try almost anything,” she said. Ho was pleasantly surprised when everything she ordered arrived exactly as she had hoped. The only downside was the turnaround time: “In a world where we’re all conditioned by the speed of Amazon Prime and instant gratification, waiting a few weeks felt odd,” she said. Once she factored in the time it takes to create something from scratch, as well as the logistics of international shipping, she quickly realized how remarkable the whole process was: “This is about ‘adjust expectations.’ Other favorites in the plus size community are independent brands Blaq Velvette, Paint by Shawn Denise, and Demestik. “Most independent designers are made to order,” says Denee. “It’s not a mass produced thing with a small company, so when you place your order they manufacture your parts, which makes it a bespoke item.” This makes sense given that independent brands often cannot afford to stock large amounts of inventory. It is more sustainable for them to stay skinny, to only make a garment when it is needed. “Companies made to order with no size limits are the only brands that can qualify as size inclusive – and indeed height.” Miranda Schultz, the blogger behind The Plus Life It’s a refreshing way to think of inclusiveness becoming a buzzword that can be a cynical marketing ploy. “So many brands claim to be ‘inclusive’,” says Schultz, “but offering custom sizing is [one of] the only ways to truly include people with bodies of all shapes and sizes. Ho agrees, explaining that almost all brands that claim to be “size-inclusive” actually exclude her size 28 body. “Companies made to order with no size limits are the only brands that can say they are all sizes. confused – and in fact the height, ”she said. While these made-to-order brands have been a saving grace for many plus size women, they are not a long-term solution. Almost two decades after eShakti began providing plus size shoppers with clothes that not only conform to their body, but appeal to their tastes, many believe it is time to demand more from it. fashion industry as a whole. “Being able to buy all the same styles as a straight-sized person is what plus-size people have been asking for from the start,” says Liz Black, blogger at PS It’s Fashion. And they shouldn’t have to customize every detail of a garment to replicate what they see in the mainstream market. Denee agrees: “All we want is to be able to go [to the mall] and grab something cute. Like what you see? How about a little more R29 goodness, here? 10 Best Places for Sustainable Plus Size Clothing 25 Plus Size Stores That Aren’t Trendy Fast Shopping When You’re Plus Size Isn’t Therapeutic


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Mary Moser

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