The Plus Sized Lowdown
For Designers looking to use time they have available to further their brand more, an area that has been increasingly in demand is an inclusive size range. “Standard sizing” has historically seen a size 14 or even 18 as “plus” or extra, above what they would usually sell. However the increasing call for a wider range has Designers hesitant.
So, what’s the hold up?
In a recent episode of the “Pretty Big Deal” podcast hosted by model Ashley Graham, Christian Siriano talks about the range of sizes and shapes he’s designed for, and says that “It’s not that hard… A lot of brands just don’t want to...” Though he acknowledges that it does take more time, money and resources to produce a line that fits more of the market.
Realistically, offering more than four or so sizes for each style IS more work. Usually a Patternmaker starts with one “Core Size”, and then uses a standard formula to “grade” the pattern to fit the next size up or down. You can only grade a pattern a maximum of three sizes in either direction, or your accuracy and fit goes off the rails. (For example, many Designers will start with their “Size Medium” and then grade down for XS and S, and up for L and XL.)
So if you want to offer a wider range, say 2-30, you would likely break it down into three grading groups with 6, 16, and 26 being your Core Sizes (grading up and down from there to fill in the full range). And while your design work may be done once, you then still end up patterning almost three times as much as a “standard size range”.
So you have to ask yourself… Can we make all that work worth the increased percentage of the market that you could reach? Or maybe the question is “Are we doing enough to fit most people well?”
Industry educational platform MOTIF tackled that question at Alvanon’s latest webinar ‘Fitting Plus Sizes Digitally’. Here are some of Senior Consultants Tracey Rickert and Alice Rodrigues’ biggest talking points to size yourself for success.
Pick a Fit Model. “As bodies become bigger, the variance in shape becomes greater.” It just becomes more obvious that people don’t carry weight in the exact same places of their body. It’s unlikely that you can accommodate EVERY fit (“apple”, “pear”, etc). So take a closer look at your market demographics and pick one or two.
Make sure that you pay attention to your grading. Some areas of your body will increase as your size does. But your skeleton stays the same… Your shoulder width isn’t going to increase like your waist or thigh could, so make sure you keep things proportional. NO ONE likes to feel like a potato in an over-sized sack.
Decide when a style needs to look exactly the same across the size range or if you can make “aesthetic changes”. Designers should pay attention to where another dart or additional pleating needs to be added to maintain the design balance as well as how the fabric fits around a 3D body. As well, similarly to designing for “Petite” sizes, you may find places where you need more or even less exaggeration of shapes, such as less fullness in a straight leg pant.
A custom 3D avatar can help lessen the amount of time and resources you spend in prototyping, by giving you a chance to really see what the changes are going to look like without having to build so many physical prototypes during the design stage. You’ll still want to test each style out before you hit send on that initial production order though.
MOTIF is also offering a Free Trial of their ‘Fundamentals of Plus Sizes’ online course, available now.
To watch the full episode of 'Pretty Big Deal' with Christian Siriano, check it out on YouTube.
To get in on Alvanon's new webinar series, take a look here.