Fashion Designers: The Real Electoral College

Lately, we have all learned a lot about the Electoral College. Basically, we the people have our say and our Electors are the ones who actually vote on our behalves. You may think that this only affects you once every four years. However, I have thought of another set of electors and their vote affects you almost every single day:

The Fashion Electoral College.

Yes, I just made up that term, but stay with me here and I think you’ll see where I’m going.

The national average pant size for a woman in America is 16. But good luck finding that size in most clothing stores. It’s pretty simple actually, designers aren’t making sizes over 12.

For real. If you aren’t above a size 12, I encourage you – go into your favorite store and try to find something in a size 16. Chances are you will find a few “plus sized” options, but look at how many options the average woman doesn’t have. Retailers simply aren’t making the same amount of choices for a woman over a size 14 that they are making for a size 6. In fact, earlier this year, if you went to Nike’s website, they only had FIVE plus sized options.


Now they have 70 plus sized options… vs. 933 options in their “regular” sizes.

Well, maybe they aren’t buying clothes…

Sure, you may think that this is a real ‘chicken or the egg’ kind of problem. That designers aren’t making those sizes because women aren’t buying them. Or is it women aren’t buying them because the clothes don’t exist. We may never know.

Oh wait! We do know! Women above a size 12 are spending money. Big time! Plus size women spent 20.7 billion in 2015. Think of how much higher that number would be if they had just as many options as their regular sized friends?  The thing is, designers are FLAT OUT refusing to make clothes for them. Tim Gunn has asked many designers why they don’t design for plus sized women. The reason he heard the most was, “I’m not interested in her.”

How do we fix it?

We need to talk about this more. The way we talk about all women’s issues.

The way we are now all actively talking about changing the Electoral College is the way we need to talk about changing the fashion industry. Electors are casting their votes for us when it comes to fashion. But they clearly aren’t listening to the women around them. Make it a part of the conversation. We’ve got a lot of work to do in 2017, and I would like to look good while I do it.

Sure we can all boycott places that don’t carry sizes over 12 or 14. But I love fashion, that’s why I’m writing this! So, I won’t tell you that you can’t shop somewhere and deny yourself the perfect top. I refuse to ask you that. What we can do is shop in the stores that carry a wider range of sizes first. Modcloth and Target are doing a great job honoring the plus sized shopper.

And one last thought, maybe let’s not call it “plus sized” and just call it what it is: a size.

Rebecca Edwards