The term "plus-size" clothing is a very recent coinage. And by recent, it means the 20th century because the fashion industry was not there before that. People either made their clothes or went to their favourite tailor to make them a well-fitted dress. It was only after the fashion industry started in the 1920s that the term came into being as people began buying clothes and manufacturers mass-produced. However, it has been a long journey to go to today's easy availability of affordable plus-size tops.
Let's first look at the journey of plus-size clothes until today. The term was first used in the American women's fashion industry by the brand Lane Bryant. Founded by a young widow, it was a well-known boutique on Fifth Avenue in New York. This retailer was the first to advertise clothing for people with higher body measurements. Evans was the first retailer in the UK to enter the plus-size market in 1930.
In the 1980s, Italian apparel company Max Mara was the first to introduce a high-end apparel brand in plus size. However, the mainstream fashion industry generally didn't cater to this segment that well and plus-sized women found it difficult to find clothes that fit them well from their favourite mainstream brands.
However, in the 21st century, the plus-size industry for women (and men) exploded. The biggest change in this fashion industry segment is the visibility of plus-size clothing across all segments. Whether casual, comfy clothes or evening gowns, you can find your size from many mainstream brands. Not only are more options available in the market, but the brands also advertise their lines prominently to their intended consumers. Also, brands used plus-size models to market these clothes, which helped people feel connected as they could see someone like them in the ads from their favourite clothing brands.
Social media is the single reason for this change in attitudes regarding the plus-size fashion industry. It gave the power to the common people regarding what was fashionable, what sizes were normal and who looked good in what from fashion industry gatekeepers, magazines and advertisers. With plus-size fashion influencers gaining more momentum, the fashion industry changed with the changing time. So, the next time you shop for women's athleisure wear in London, thank these pioneers for the easy availability of clothes in your size.