Yesterday I caught up with Sonya and her mother to do some shopping at the Boxing Day sales at the massive Chermside shopping centre. To put this in perspective, according to the centre’s website, there are 69 stores that cater to women’s fashion. Of these, there are three dedicated plus-size stores – Autograph, City Chic and MySize. Of these, City Chic is the only one that is geared towards a younger demographic. There are some others that cater up to a size 18 or 20, but generally speaking, most stop at 16 (or a 14).
Standing outside the door at 8:45am, waiting with a crowd of other plus-sized women, I began to feel irritated. The Courier-Mail online covered the sales, and City Chic actually got a name-drop, with the author noting that there were 30-40 shoppers waiting outside. My irritation stemmed from the fact that here we were, people lining up to get some nice clothes at a decent price, and yet retailers continue to insist that fat people don’t spend money, aren’t fashionable, ad infinitum.
(I bought a dress and a top, by the by).
But today, while talking to a few other like-minded fat people about store policies and supporting businesses with practices we agree with, I began to wonder: do stores that produce ethical clothing for fat people even exist? It is so damn difficult just to dress in the styles that I like, it seems like ethically produced plus-sized clothing must be like a frickin’ mythical unicorn.
I know that ethical fashion can have a wide range of meanings, from non-sweatshop produced garments, to retailers that treat their staff with fairness and follow the law, to just not treating their customers like fools, and who are pro-body acceptance. I can’t think of any Australia-based ones that I’m aware of.
When I think about what I’d like to see, it’s mostly to do with the third point. I simply adore Re/Dress NYC for this reason – they are explicitly pro-acceptance, in all forms. And since they stock mostly used and vintage clothes, I could shop there with a clear conscience. Sadly, being on the other side of the world from them makes it a bit difficult to get there regularly.
I’d love to see more retailers that engage with body acceptance. I’d love to see the moderators of the City Chic and Evans facebook pages delete shaming and negative comments, for example. (There were some simply horrible comments on a photo that Gazel of Bonjour Gazel entered in an Evans comp that were incredibly hateful).
The holy grail, of course, would be a pro-body acceptance, non-sweatshop-based, fair-wage-paying retailer that provided on-trend and classic pieces for men, women and everyone in between in a wide variety of sizes. Hey, a girl can dream.
So tell me – what do you want to see from your retailers? What does ethical fashion mean to you? And do any plus-size ethical fashion retailers exist?