Tag Archives: fashion

Sizing Up the Fashion Industry

12 Nov

I majored in magazine journalism in college. I thought I’d either be a writer or a designer. Even though I now work in newspapers, I still love magazines. I have been a longtime subscriber to Elle, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Esquire.

As you can tell, I like my fashion magazines. I’m aware of the fashion industry’s lack of representation for all types: height, shape, size, skin color, etc. Last year during Paris Fashion Week, a designer broke the mold and used regular women, not professional models in his show. They were a glorious rainbow of shades, shapes and sizes. They stomped down the runway and all anyone could talk about the next day was how brave Rick Owens was for breaking the mold. Again, that was a year ago.

Last month, Calvin Klein launched its new “Perfectly Fit” underwear campaign featuring six models, seen above. Looking at the photos, you wouldn’t be able to tell that the female model in the bottom-right corner, Myla Dalbesio, is the larger of the five women at a size 10. She looks beautiful, just like everyone else.

It wasn’t until recently when Elle published an interview with Dalbesio in which she was called plus size that social media went into a tizzy.

To be fair, it wasn’t Calvin Klein or even Dalbesio calling herself plus size. It was Elle. The magazine’s site updated their story and even changed the headline to read “The Rise of the In-Between Model,” but the url is still “plus size.”

DalBesio went on the Today show to discuss the hubbub about her ad, saying, “Life doesn’t work in only extremes.” Most fashion campaigns and runway shows feature models who are very thin. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum where a designer will create pieces specifically for a much larger frame or even go on to shock the world with a fashion show featuring and abundance of sizes.

I applaud Calvin Klein for using a model of average size and not making a big thing about it. It’s a step in the right direction to show that women of all sizes need to be represented. My waist is a size 8, but my hips and thighs will at times put me in a 10. I don’t see myself as plus sized. I’ve been plus sized. I used to shopped at stores that catered specifically to plus sized women when I was an 18 flirting with a size 20. Nowhere in the racks did I see a size 10. For Elle to fall back on the trope of plus sized just because DalBesio wasn’t their norm is offensive and short sighted.

I wish more brands like Calvin Klein would take into account the women of varying shapes and sizes that want to wear they’re clothes. Some of us are tall or short, curvy or straight. Some of us have pear shapes, while others are hourglass. All of us are different hues. And we’re all looking for the “Perfect Fit.” I understand it’s not feasable to cater to every size for every piece. But just to acknowledge that we’re out there will make a world of difference.

Outfitting Your Exercise

7 Nov

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At this point in my life, I’ve accumulated enough clothes for every occasion. I have my work clothes. I have my clothes that work well after work. I’ve got my bar clothes, not to be confused with my club clothes. I’ve got Sunday brunch clothes that can lead to the day party later. And, best of all, I’ve got my gym clothes.

I’ve been working out so much over the years that my gym-clothes drawer is spilling into other drawers. I’ve got a decent amount of running pants, more than enough running shirts, quite a few bras with a few pairs of shorts sprinkled in. I’ve learned how to dress for every workout. What I’ll wear on a summer run may not be suitable for working out at the gym at my job. The running jacket I have for the fall and winter serves as just a jacket when I’m going to a class or the gym. And I’ve got plenty of items to keep me happy.

But I like shopping. So…I’m gonna buy more stuff if there’s a sale or I see something I like.

Which brings us to two completely different incidences where choosing the wrong item could have wreaked havoc on my bank account.

Fashion designer Alexander Wang released his new collection in collaboration with H&M yesterday. He previewed the collection a few weeks ago, which was where we saw the newly slimmed down Missy Elliot. I looked at the clothes online, and some of them seemed really cool. I liked the crop tops, though I’m not ready to expose my stomach to the world outside the beach. Some of the pants and shorts were nice, too, and they looked like they’d function during one of my many high-intensity workouts.

Um…not so much.

I went to the launch yesterday—twice. During my lunch break, I walked up the block to H&M only to find there was a barricaded line outside the store. Then the line went inside where it snaked around another barricade. I hadn’t planned on a two hour lunch, so I decided to browse the store. I’ve always liked H&M, even though it’s Old Navy with better looking clothes. There were some cute coats and dresses I saw, but what really intrigued me were all the people walking around with Alexander Wang bags. Many customers went through the long line, bought their stuff and continued to shop. One woman I talked to had gone through the line and seemed unscathed. “How was it?” I asked.

“That shit was ridiculous,” she said. “They kicked me out after 15 minutes.”

The store I went to was allowing customers to peruse the items in 15-minute increments. They even had a guy with a bullhorn announcing when time would be up. Still, I got a pretty good look at the items from the second floor. Just about everything is black, which makes them useless during the cloudy, dark days ahead. Some items had reflective fabric, but most were just for show.

In fact, just about everything was for show. When I came back that evening after the crowd had died down, I got a chance to look at all the clothes. None of them really seemed able to withstand a vigorous workout. Some of the capris seemed OK, but who wears a crop top on a run in the middle of winter? Not this gal.

Then there were the prices. Like I said, I like H&M, but making high-quality clothing isn’t their thing. That’s why most of their clothes are so inexpensive. Even though Alexander Wang is a top designer, the prices for his branded material was outrageous. Tank tops for $35, non-functioning sports bras for $40.

Where he failed in performance wear that you can perform in, he excelled in some dresses. They were designed to fall in line with Wang’s collection, but they had a “we’re gonna kick it hard” kind of vibe. Still, those dresses were about $200, way more than I planned to spend. So, I bought the one piece of sports equipment I could afford: a water bottle.

This experience was different from the last time I went sportswear shopping, which was a couple of weeks ago. I went to the Under Armour sample sale. This, too, was a bit overpriced. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as Alexander Wang, mostly because the clothes have better functionality. It wasn’t nearly as crowded as H&M. Plus, if you’re looking for stuff you can sweat in, the sample is your best bet, not the Alexander Wang collection.

Full-Figured Fashion Week

5 Feb

uptown-rick-owens-2Diversity on the runway has always been a big issue in the fashion industry. Designers have every right to place the clothes they’ve constructed on a model that fits with their aesthetic. But what does it say about the designer when all of their models look the same?

I can go on for days about the lack of racial diversity on the runways. There are others who do it on a regular basis. What I’d like to focus on is size diversity. We all come in multitude of sizes and we all can appreciate beautiful works of art. Fashion Week, for me, is a time when stunning works of art are put on display for our critique and enjoyment.

With Mercedes Benz Fashion week in New York starting tomorrow, I’m realistically hopeful to see different sizes on the runway this year. Last fall, designer Rick Owens stunned Paris audiences with multi-cuved, multi-hued models performing a stepshow on the runway. The women stomped down the catwalk with fierce aggression showcasing some pretty unique items. There were thigh jiggles, big boobs, little boobs and hair of every texture. It awe inspiring.

When I first stumbled on the show, I couldn’t help but rewatch it. And then it hit me that I was seeing something different, but not different. I see women like that all the time—at work, on the train, on the street. They’re everywhere…except the runway.

Yes, I’m “skinny now,” but I haven’t always been this way. I’m not not that skinny. I’ve said several times on this blog, my thighs jiggle and I’ve got a pooch of a stomach. And guess what else? I wear clothes. I like fashion. I get excited for fashion week.

Can the barrier that was broken last fall in Paris carry over this week in New York? Will designers look to other boy types to market their wares?

Fashion Week began as an opportunity for designers to showcase their goods to buyers. The commercial aspect of the event didn’t grow to its current height until recent memory. Buyers are still at the shows, they’ve just been pushed back a few seats to make room for the Kardashians. That’s fine. But the Kardashians aren’t the rail-thin girls we only see walking the runway.

I don’t take issue with the current crop of models being hired to strut. Personally, my favorite model these days is Joan Smalls. There is, however, room for designers to show buyers what a woman curvier frame would buy.

The fashion industry can be exclusive, but it doesn’t have to be. I only hope designers will recognize that a diverse runway will only help them in the long run.

It was a personal exercise to consider curves and size ranges in the clothes I sell. This was a great way for us in the studio to study more ways to make clothes available to more people. It was as simple as that.
—Rick Owens in Vogue Turkey

What do you think about diversity in the fashion industry? What other types of models would you like to see draped in your favorite designer’s clothes?