Between being a mentor on Project Runway and serving on the faculty of the Parsons School for Design, Tim Gunn certainly knows a thing or two about fashion. But in a recent piece for the Washington Post, Gunn says that the very industry he’s been a part of for decades is severely at fault.
According to the Huffington Post, Gunn released an article on Thursday, Sept. 8, taking the fashion industry to task over its lack of size diversity. Pointing out the many women disserviced by the industry, Gunn wrote:
“There are 100 million plus-size women in America, and, for the past three years, they have increased their spending on clothes faster than their straight-size counterparts. There is money to be made here ($20.4 billion, up 17 percent from 2013). But many designers — dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or simply too cowardly to take a risk — still refuse to make clothes for them.”
The Huffington Post says Gunn argued that such a dearth of sizes and styles available for plus-size women makes for — at best — an unpleasant shopping experience. “It’s a horribly insulting and demoralizing experience,” he wrote.
Gunn even named designers and brands who have openly disavowed creating designs — or even showcasing women —beyond a certain size.
“‘No one wants to see curvy women’ on the runway, Karl Lagerfeld, head designer of Chanel, said in 2009. Plenty of mass retailers are no more enlightened: Under the tenure of chief executive Mike Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch sold nothing larger than a size 10, with Jeffries explaining that ‘we go after the attractive, all-American kid,'” he wrote.
While he admits that the problem is “difficult to change,” Gunn wrote that it is not impossible, citing “Eloquii for actually getting trendy clothing above a size 12 right, Christian Siriano for stepping in to dress Leslie Jones when she revealed that no designer would dress her for the Ghostbusters premiere, and Lane Bryant as his go-to spot for women above a 14 (although he admits ‘the items aren’t fashion with a capital F’),” in addition to ModCloth, the Huffington Post reports.
Gunn wrapped up his argument by saying that the fashion industry needs to let go of its antiquated standards in order to serve the diverse needs of women today.
“But this is now the shape of women in this nation, and designers need to wrap their minds around it,” he wrote. “I profoundly believe that women of every size can look good. But they must be given choices. Separates — tops, bottoms — rather than single items like dresses or jumpsuits always work best for the purpose of fit. Larger women look great in clothes skimming the body, rather than hugging or cascading. There’s an art to doing this. Designers, make it work.”
There you have it, fashion industry. Now go and “make it work.”