More Fashion Week Designers Are Making Plus-Size Clothing, But There's a Catch
Curvy shoppers still face a host of obstacles on their quest for runway-worthy style.
Before we talk about just how many NYFW designers show — and then actually produce — clothing for plus-size shoppers, let’s address the elephant in the room. New York Fashion Week is dwindling. What was once one of the industry’s largest semi-annual affairs has shrunk in size substantially over the past several seasons. Its fall 2020 schedule, which spanned from February 7 to 12, hosted 69 designers recognized by the official NYFW calendar put forth by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). That's compared to 77 who showed their Spring collections in September. As we noted in our size report last season, the diminishing roster gives the impression that more designers are increasing their size ranges than is actually the case.
Fall 2020 saw 32% of designers up their size offerings, with 22% now producing a size 20 or above. On a superficial level, that’s great news! Yet those improvements occurred in tandem with a few notable shortcomings, like a 16% overall decrease in designers who produce a size 14 and above. Plus, Tanya Taylor, Tommy Hilfiger, and Studio 189, who went up to size 22 last season, were absent from the FW20 schedule, as was longtime size-diversity advocate Christian Siriano, who chose to show his collection the day before the official start of the NYFW schedule (and featured Rachel Bilson, carrying a bag made of literal junk).
It’s worth pointing out that of those designers who introduced newly extended sizes this season, nearly one-third did so with exclusive collections for plus-size webstore 11 Honoré. Though adding more sizes and making clothing accessible to more people is never a bad thing, it’s peculiar that the likes of Cynthia Rowley and Jason Wu would do so through a third-party website rather than simply upping the sizing on their official sites, which still offer a relatively limited range. This feels like a half-step in the right direction. Are there more designer clothes for plus-size people? Literally, yes. But they’ve got to hit up a niche, plus-only shopping destination to find it; they’re not being invited to the designer boutique (or website) enjoyed by their thin counterparts.
InStyle surveyed the size ranges of every brand on this season’s NYFW schedule. Read on for more information about which designers are pushing toward inclusivity (albeit sometimes only through 11 Honoré), and which could still use a serious reality check. To highlight the impact of 11 Honoré on brands’ sizes, we placed an asterisk alongside the name of every designer who has released extended sizes at that e-retailer and not on their namesake websites. It’s important to note that these are still the real-deal designer clothes, and not diffusion lines or mass-retailer collaborations; any of those are excluded from this tally.
A few things about our survey.
- We only surveyed designers that could be found on the official CFDA calendar here.
- We only included women’s ready-to-wear brands (denim and men’s, for example, were excluded).
- We did not include designers that only create custom clothing or do not sell in retail (like The Blonds).
- Brands that answered us in European sizes were converted to US sizing using this chart.
- For brands that size XS-XXL, we used the following conversion: XS= 0, S=2/4, M=6/8, L=10/12, XL=14/16, XXL=18/20. This was based on the average of the designers’ conversion estimations.
- In the instance that a designer offers extended sizing per request but does not produce it across the majority of their products, we went with the size run they create all pieces in.
Up to Size 28
Up to Size 24
Jason Wu Collection*
Up to Size 22
Up to Size 20
Up to Size 18
Kate Spade New York
Up to Size 16
Oscar de la Renta
Up to Size 14
alice + olivia
Up to Size 12
Up to Size 10
Alejandra Alonso Rojas
Snow Xue Gao
Up to Size 8