Plus Size Representation and Why We Need More

Summer Deciucis

Summer Deciucis

Highlighted Models from Selkie’s Spring 2024 collection at NYFW 2023

With another New York Fashion Week in the books, we saw a multitude of exemplary collections, inventive shows, and endured yet another season of failed plus size representation. 

The comeback of early 2000s fashion has not only brought back low-rise waistlines, micro-mini skirts, and high-contrast color pallets; the Y2K body has returned and is more sought after than ever before. Being unattainably tall, and impossibly thin are the two main traits of the “ideal” runway body, and while there are a plethora of models who naturally look that way, we need to embrace other bodies as well. Over the last 20 years, our society has evolved in nearly every other capacity; it’s time we ditch a 20 year old beauty standard.

Each year that goes by, it’s more apparent that most designers want bodies that fit their clothes, they don’t want to make clothes that fit every body. Brands should not be ticking an ethical box of inclusivity by only including one or two plus size models; they should want to rewrite the fashion industry narrative. After all, they set the rules

During this year’s NYFW, Selkie delivered the most diverse show, and arguably the most entertaining. Not only did they highlight plus-size bodies, they also held space for models of all ages, genders, and abilities. Instead of bodies being used simply as garment racks, it felt as if the clothing items were made for every model, making the pieces even more alluring. Throughout the show, there were a number of almost theatrical performances, and even a touch of burlesque. Selkie deserves its applause for another year of progressive runway casting. 
Christian Siriano similarly embraced more plus-sized models during his 15th anniversary show this season, sporting a collection full of “ballerina chic” looks. Siriano has been a lead trendsetter in making his runways and collections more size inclusive. He told Elle Magazine in 2018, “Adding plus sizes to my line tripled my business. Why wouldn’t you do that?! Do we not want to triple the business? Do we not think these women should wear our clothes? Do we not want these women to have beautiful things because we’re afraid they’re not beautiful? What is going on here?”

Models Tommy Dorfman, Aaron Rose Philip, and Hari Nef walking in Collina Strada’s spring 2024 show

Other shows from Coach, Collina Strada, Bruce Glen, and DapperQ included some plus-size representation as well. While there were a few shows who made efforts to showcase plus size models, the majority failed to do so. 

There are many “excuses” that the fashion industry has clung onto as a reason for the lack of plus size representation. Plus-size models being too expensive, too scarce, and it being difficult to alter garments to fit properly are just a few of the reasons they have come up with. While there is some data to back up a few of their vindications, they simply aren’t good enough. Some advances have been made in this realm, but mostly by underdog brands. 

We can support the brands we love, while also encouraging them to branch out through inclusivity and size diversification. The beauty of fashion is that while being cyclical, it is also ever changing, and we the consumers have a very large voice for our opinions. This season’s New York Fashion Week undoubtedly brought us amazing collections, and spectacular shows, but it also revealed how much work still needs to be done to finally establish size equality in the fashion world.