Friday, August 23, 2013

Really Mr. Gunn?

Oh Tim Gunn.

So apparently Tim Gunn has discovered something all of us over a size 12 have known forever. Fashion as it is done in the mainstream is not for us.
Ahem. Sir, Tim I love you but really?

In short, it's time to get honest about sizes and bodies -- women shoppers come in all shapes, including "plus-size" ones, and there's nothing wrong with buying clothing that bears a size in the double-digits. There may not be enough stylish, trendy plus-size clothing on the market right now... but if the up-and-comers on "Project Runway" can be convinced to start designing those clothes, it might be a good place to start.
Uh...for real though?

So according to Wikipedia Mr. Gunn has been in fashion since 1982.

So tell me again sir, in all those years how did the fact that every model, every marketed line, 90% of designers you deal with will not deal with a body that is not a thin body, ALL of the advertising, ALL of the models you'e worked with you only just now have noticed that mainstream fashion industry is outright hostile to diverse bodies?

I love you Mr. Gunn but you are full of shit.

If Project Runway was in fact a good place to start, how about giving the designers some serious dressing downs about the complaints every time there is a challenge involving "real" models?

WHY wasn't the designer who essentially said his fat client was shapeless and had no style, some consequences for being such a fucking dick to his client?

Look. Fat people have been saying for years, fashion is doing us a disservice. I have said for years that if more designers, brands etc would stop doing fat fashion entirely wrong, they would in fact make their money.

If we're to believe as so many retailers claim that fat fashion doesn't sell let's look at the ways they have set it up to happen:

  1. Stores (Hi Old Navy) that make it so you can only order plus size clothing on line and are notorious for sizing issues.
  2. Store/brand owners, talk about how they don't want fat employees or shoppers in their stores.
  3. Fat specific stores tend to cater only to those with money, those who are small to middle size fat or their quality is questionable. Yes Torrid I'm talking about you.
  4. Brand name companies who are known for specific styling (Lip Service I am talking about you) get hyped up to sell their fat size clothes and the plus sizes have nothing to do aesthetically with their brand.
So stores/brands do this and then say oh but it failed.

Of course it failed because it is set up to fail.

Other ways retailers fail is that they don't use models who fit their clothes.

A thin model (hi Woman within) does not look the same in clothing made for a plus size body, as a plus size model would look.

When it comes to any non normative bodies whether they are fat, gender queer, etc retailers tend to act like they don't know what they are doing anymore.

So Tim Gunn, it's not a maybe it is an absolute.

Here's the thing. Retail is commerce and commerce is fueled by money spent. If we examine some of the more popular fat fashion brands, a lot of fat people have a lot of cash to throw at well made, well dsigned clothing. I personally don't but that's neither here nor there.

This is why the idea that fashion is for every body, as it is put forth by Thin Pretty White People who are sort of into body acceptance fails.

Now let's talk brass tacks real life.

My position is that regardless of my love of high fashion and that part of the industry, has nothing to do with my real life nor how I clothe myself.

The problems are not necessarily centered on me not being able to buy a Marchesa dress at Lord and Taylor. How many of us really need a lot of high end designer wear?

The problem is when say I need a pair of decent pants. I can't go try them on in a lot of places, a lot of stores don't use measurements on individual pants, you just have to guess and pray.

The problem is that if I really need to buy a bra I can't go to Target and buy one. I have to go to Lane Bryant where I'm going to spend two or three times more.

I can't just run down to the local whatever store and buy an outfit for an interview.

I can't just run down to the mall and have a 90% chance of walking out with exactly what I need.

This isn't a maybe this part of the population is underserved. This is a holy shit this part of the population is underserved.
As I've said before if we as fat people are supposed to believe that we should do anything necessary to lose weight, we can't even walk into a sports store or high end outfitter like Lulumon and get what we need.

It is bullshit.

And Tim Gunn, sir I am disappointed in you. You are smarter than that. You have so much more influence and power than I will ever have in my life and your conclusion is maybe?

I am disappointed.

I am pissed off and annoyed.

Don't blow smoke up the fashion industry's butt sir you are too good for that bullshit.

Homo Out.



Helena said...

Going into a local store to pick up essentials has been a problem my whole life but it is so much worse when I'm traveling and something happens to my luggage. The airline lost my luggage on a flight from JFK to Athens. For three days I had to rewash the clothes I had on, dry them in the hotel bathroom, and sleep naked. It was uncomfortable on the best days. I just couldn't walk into a store like my thin counterparts and buy some new clothes. Even if I drive someplace and forget a swimsuit or enough underwear, I have to drive around forever to find something I can wear. I've gotten really good at doing laundry in hotel sinks and know tips to dry my clothes before I need them again. How is this even necessary? I have money, I am holding it out, why won't anyone take it?

Tapati said...


This has changed only very slightly since my childhood and teen years in the sixties and seventies. More is available via mailorder/online ordering, true, but in stores they only go up a few more sizes if at all. I remember things stopped at size eighteen and at that size there would be a few polyester pants. I went to the men's section to get blue jeans and since my hips are large the waist would have a lot of excess material to scoop into a belt. It was so unsightly I would wear long shirts over it even though I was allergic to the belt metal and it rested against my skin. I had a perpetual rash from it.

They want to design for clothes hangers, not real people with curves.

Also, even in current large sized clothing there is no awareness of those of us who are larger on the bottom by one or two sizes. I have had to buy two sets of things to get the bottoms from one and the top from another.

People who figure out that there is a market and are not too fat phobic to design for us stand to make a huge fortune.

Kate217 said...

I was so excited to get Tim Gunn's autobiography. Then I read it. He says pretty explicitly that people owe it to the world to be attractive, even if they have to be uncomfortable to do so. I gave the book away, but I came away with the impression that part of the reason that the fashion industry doesn't want to cater to fat people is that, like a lot of our society, they want us to not exist.

Isabel Morales said...

@Kate, Suddenly I'm happy I haven't gotten around to reading his book.

I'll come out and admit that like many I've idolized Tim Gunn because of his logical views on fashion as well as the times he's come to the defense of "normal women." However, I have to agree with you that after 20 years in fashion, why is he speaking out now? Is it because the "body acceptance" movement is so hot right now?

Also, I wish there were more people talking about the points you made on fatshion retail industry. I recently went to the mall closest to me - which boasts of being Dallas' highest grossing per square foot - ready to spend some hard-earned cash. I found that even at a size 16 (small to middle size fat as you called it), I could not find anything I really liked at my price point. Forever 21 told me that they don't have a plus-size section in their two-story space. However, I could drive to another mall or buy online. But Forever21 doesn't offer cheap ship-to-store so a $23 purchase shoots up to the $30's.

Anyway, great post.

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