It has been a good year for plus size fashion, with lots of high-end retailers and mainstream brands expanding their lines. But one of the biggest things that took place was a ton of plus-size collaborations, some which were good (Roxy Earle and Sheertex, yes please!) and some which were downright bad.
One such example of ‘the bad’ was back in November when brand Ashley Stewart announced they would be collaborating with Kendall + Kylie Jenner.
You know them. They’re famous sisters from Keeping Up With The Kardashians. The line, available in sizes 10 through 24, was to feature 7 pieces and almost as soon as it was announced, the plus-size community on the Internet had something to say.
For those keeping track, the Jenner and Kardashian family have had a largely fatphobic past.
When they aren’t promoting fit teas and appetite suppressants via their social media (with complete ignorance mind you), they have used their brands to reinforce unattainable and unrealistic beauty ideals. Who can forget teens rushing to participate in the Kylie Jenner lip challenge in 2015 and seriously injuring themselves?
This is why it is so important when brands do decide to reach out and begin a collaboration with someone for their brand, it is a fit.
Not just for them, but for the community at large. It is so important for brands who talk about being a part of the plus-size community to continue to stay engaged with their consumers and also, the audience they are serving to stay relevant. What do these consumers really want and who would fit our brand?
Let me say this: I would never purchase plus-size clothes from Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and I watch the Kardashians.
I remember when I was growing up, my plus-size idol was Beth Ditto from the band, The Gossip. She had the most incredible style, and to be honest, she was someone I looked up to. So when Evans (a UK retailer) announced in 2009 that it would be collaborating with Ditto for a clothing line, I immediately knew I needed to have it.
I marched down to Holt Renfrew and asking them if they would be carrying it, and they thought I was nuts. But at the time, online shopping wasn’t as sophisticated as it is today. I watched from as far as Beth’s collection sold out and repeat collections followed.
This collaboration kind of set the standard for how plus-size collabs should run in the future, and well, who they should serve.
Just this year, Universal Standard collaborated with Rodarte, J. Crew, and Adidas! When I was visiting New York City, I had the opportunity to go into the showroom and see, feel, and try on the Rodarte collection in-person.
Honestly, I’ve only ever seen Rodarte on the pages of Vogue and it was everything I ever dreamed of and more.
This is why these collabs matter: it gives customers the possibility to have access to contemporary, ready-to-wear fashion in sizes 0-40 from brands we know and love. As soon as I slipped the bright red ruffled jumpsuit while I was at its showroom in New York City, I felt transported into a whole new world.
At the end of the day, as customers, we want to feel excited by the designers or celebrities who are partnering with the brands we know and love.
They don’t necessarily have to be a part of the plus community, but there has to be the right energy for that partnership to make sense. When Christian Siriano teamed up with Lane Bryant, I got that.
All this is to say in 2020, I want brands to take a good hard think before they just decide to collab for the sake of collaborating with someone. Your partnerships need to make sense because at the end of the day, the Internet always talks and you WILL hear it. Sure, Kendall + Kylie Jenner is popular for a lot of people, but they don’t inspire me.
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