Size Inclusivity in the Australian Fashion Scene

We don’t really know currently what the average dress size is for Womxn in 2020.
The last data by Australian Bureau of Statistics was put together in 2012 and stated the average waist circumference of an Australian Womxn at that time was 87.7cm, which equates to a size 14-16.
So why are most brands stopping at size 12-14?
Costs of R&D
We hear this one all the time.
Patternmaking, fitting, PR samples etc. It all costs, but how much?
This is what I pay:
For me, I wanted to launch Sanct with a size range of 8-22 (8 sizes).
So compared to a brand that offers 6-12 (4 sizes) I spend an extra $406 approx per style for my professional patternmakers (who have been doing this for 25+ years) to grade 4 more sizes including having them printed on card.
I fit my samples on people I knew for my first collection but if I used a model that would be around $150 an hour.
I will pull my PR samples from bulk which reduces the cost of sampling which can be 3x bulk price.
Then I want to shoot my collection on two models, one straight size, one size 18-22 so my customers get an idea of what my garments look like on both shapes.
I’m doing a half day shoot. Hiring a model for half a day costs between 500-1300 depending on experience. I want 2x models so that cost will be doubled. Hair and makeup fees would also be doubled. The photography isn’t an extra cost because you would already be using them for one model. You may pay for an extra 1-2 hours to shoot two people. The same goes for hiring a studio.
So all in all, a worthy investment that I don’t believe breaks the bank. Especially for brands who are making hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
Straight up fat phobia is rampant in a lot of fashion workplaces. And thinness is put on a pedestal as the ‘ideal’ and ‘aspirational’ body type.
As well as this, brands often sell to your own insecurities (ie. internalised fatphobia). They think many Womxn will buy from a thin faced brand because thinness is seen as ‘aspirational’ in our society.
Size Diversity in Campaigns
Even when brands offer sizes beyond size 16, they often don’t show it in their campaign imagery.
The sample size for most brands is usually a 6-8. These samples are then often used for PR and photography, so any models/influencers used must fit into this size.
Again, this is because of the fatphobic idea of thinness being ‘aspirational’.
We need more consumers asking for diverse representation in models. Brands need to know their customers are breaking up with fatphobia and view thinness and fatness as NEUTRAL.
Only then will it become a priority to invest in other PR sample sizes and hire models of different shapes/sizes.
Demand for Larger Sizes
If a brand has been in business for years servicing size 6-12 customers, chances are they have cultivated a predominantly straight sized audience.
This audience hasn’t really been demanding size inclusivity because they’re already included.
There has always been a small number of people asking for size inclusion but it is only in the last few years this pressure has really increased to the point it can no longer be ignored.
But we need to see demand for larger sizes continue to grow. Unless there is a huge demand, brands won’t feel confident investing in the minimum order qty required to cut another size/s.
Minimum Order QTY’s
Which brings me to MOQ’s.
Factories often have minimum order qty’s per size, lets say this is 100 units.
A brand that doesn’t think it can sell 100 units of size 16+ for example, (because their customer base is overwhelmingly straight sized) might not want to invest in that many units.
This is why it is so important to keep asking for larger sizes.
If a brand sees 100 people demanding size 16+, they will feel more confident investing in that 100 unit MOQ.
Designing for Size Inclusivity
Not all styles will grade well between an inclusive size range. Pattern pieces can distort when grading up or down too far. That’s why designing for inclusivity is important.
I only design styles I know will grade well between my full size range and eventually beyond. I purposefully choose not to make styles that can’t be graded inclusively.
So Where Do We Go From Here?
1. Be persistent in telling brands what you want.
Continued, growing pressure is WORKING. This is the only way we will see extended size ranges and diverse model shapes/sizes in campaign imagery.
2. We need to see brands hire employees with diverse body shapes/sizes, not just for photography.
But a lot of fashion brands need a huge culture shift to make their workplaces safe for people who aren’t straight sized.
3. Fashion needs to break up with fatphobia, urgently.
Consumers showing brands they have moved on from fatphobia will pressure brands to kickstart this work.
Until this happens, change and associated costs simply won’t be a priority.