Tim Gunn Calls Out Fashion Industry for Excluding Plus Women
New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is in full effect, with models strutting the hottest new designs down the runway. But, Fashion expert and Project Runway mentor, Tim Gunn, is not happy with what he is seeing and, true to his say-it-as-you-see-it nature, he is letting the industry know.
Gunn wrote an editorial piece for the Washington Post, Thursday, expressing his disgust for the limited representation of women in the fashion industry and on the runway. Regarding the average American woman, Gunn points out that, “Far more women in this country wear a size 16 than a size 6, but the industry seems not to have noticed.” Instead, designers continue to create limited sizing, which makes the clothing inaccessible to many women.
Gunn expresses his love for fashion and the industry, but notes that it has many problems, with the lack of plus-size representation being one of them. Additionally, he discusses the amount of money that could be made if the industry were to become more inclusive, stating:
“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.”
Gunn has discussed his concerns with a number of designers, but often with disappointing responses, such as, “I’m not interested in her” and “I don’t want her wearing my clothing.” While many designers complain that plus women are difficult to design for, Gunn believes the real problem is that designers don’t know how to design for larger sizes.
“This is a design failure and not a customer issue. There is no reason larger women can’t look just as fabulous as all other women. The key is the harmonious balance of silhouette, proportion and fit, regardless of size or shape. Designs need to be reconceived, not just sized up; it’s a matter of adjusting proportions. The textile changes, every seam changes.”
Gunn acknowledges that this lack of plus-representation is a difficult problem to change and that fashion exclusivity and very thin models have a long-standing history. However, Gunn remains hopeful that change is possible and notes fashion companies and designers who are trailblazing this movement – such as Lane Bryant and Christian Siriano . Gunn ends by encouraging designers to become more inclusive, to offer more choices, and to “make it work.”