At a first glance I think it is really easy to notice all of the negative elements that are still occurring within the plus size industry and how there are still many disappointed plus size/curvy/fat or whatever name you feel comfortable calling us fabulous women, still very unhappy with their choice of clothing, availability and lets not even get started on some the designer's choice of cut!
BUT the question is 'have we progressed? and I would have to say a big fat wobbly YES!
I have been working in the plus size industry for the last six years and feel that not only have I been able to see a change but I feel proud that some of the work that myself and team have done as helped to contribute to push things forward in a positive way.
I was just a normal plus size woman not a blogger or a journalist, I had never worked in fashion before and my background was working in television and music but I was simply frustrated about the lack of options of clothing and I wanted to see images that I could identify with - well that frustration led me to create an online fashion magazine called Evolve at a time when there was not much out there for us ladies to inspire to and from that I went on to create two award winning fashion events for the curvy community as a precursor to London Fashion Week called British Plus Size Fashion weekend and most recently the largest fashion event for us women with curves UK Plus Size Fashion Week.
But what I love most is the fact that the industry has slowly started to shift and embrace plus sized fashion but this was not because some retail executive suddenly decided they wanted to embrace us NO it was because we has a community started to stand up and refuse to continue to take the substandard sacks labelled as dresses, racks of the forgotten clothes pushed to the back of stores and images of women size 8-10 modelling plus size clothing and having no representation of us on catwalks as though we did not matter. I like to call it the Curvy Revolution we armed ourselves and took control by creating what we needed instead of waiting for it to be given to us - Go US!
We started to create magazines such as Evolve and Slink and others. We had a rise of bloggers stepping out and speaking up, we created events such as the ones I produced that gave us the opportunity to start to sit with the brands and voice our opinion of what we needed and wanted and we had a surge of new independent designers inspired to give us clothing with shape and style.
And slowly but surely the media started to talk about what we were doing and brands started to see what we have seen all along plus size fashion matters!
So what has changed I hear you ask? Well.
We absolutely have more choice now especially with the growth of online shopping. A variation of new brands now stocking plus size clothing around the world, some that were previously only stocking regular/smaller sizes such as Boohoo, Asos, Mango to name a few and we give credit to some of our original retailers such as Evans and Simply Be who we have seen actively looking at their designs and trying to make more edgier trendy collections, with larger plus size models over a UK 20 such as Tess Holiday and Olivia Campbell being signed to major modelling agencies and heading campaigns for brands such as Yours Clothing it just may seem like someone is finally listening to the masses.
But let's not get too carried away, we still have a long way to go and let's be honest there are some brands and designers who are just jumping on the bandwagon for the dollar signs that they see - the plus size industry is estimated to be at around 5.4billion in the UK and over 17 billion in the US alone.
I would not have a problem with them cashing in if they were all supplying us with great designs and fit that don't just go up by size but are altered to flatter both a size 16 and a size 26 woman - it's not one style fits all guys! And it is frustrating that there is not more brick and mortar stores holding our sizes on the high street and we are being driven to shop 90% online.
The truth is we are still one of the most underserved segments of the fashion industry even with all the work we have put in - BUT with new brands releasing curvy collections such as River Island and events such as UK plus size fashion week and allowing us to shop 'til we drop with designers from around the world - one thing is for certain it may not be changing as quickly as we would like but onwards ever backwards NEVER!!
This February, HuffPost UK Style is running a month-long focus on our Fashion For All campaign, which aims to highlight moments of colour, size, gender and age diversity and disability inclusivity in the fashion and beauty world.
We will be sharing moments of diversity at London Fashion Week with the hashtag #LFW4All and we'd like to invite you to do the same. If you'd like to blog about diversity or get involved, email us here.