• Tayeeb Khan

Evolution of Plus Size Fashion – Why, How, When & Where of Plus Size Fashion Clothing Through Years

(How Plus Size Fashion & Plus Size Clothing come to be, where is it today and Where is it heading?)

Before I get into the actual topic of the blog, I just want to get this out of the way. My belief is that the whole "Plus Size Fashion" or "Plus Size Clothing" was never supposed to be a thing. It was supposed to be as common as any other size of clothing. This just highlights how much we need to grow in terms of our mindsets. All thanks to the technological advancements & the industrial revolutions. You will understand why I am thanking these in a bit, so read on.

Plus Size Fashion or Plus Size Clothing has always been a relatively controversial topic. But it's not something that is new or a trend that has come to light in recent days. This has been going on for over centuries now.

I just realized that the "Plus Size" is one of the prime examples of the good & bad sides of Technological advancements and the advent of Social media in our society.

Plus Size is a broad topic and there are so many topics to write about under its umbrella-like Myths about Plus Size Clothing, Plus Size Fashion Bloggers, Plus Size Fashion Blogs you can follow, and the list just goes on. My choice of topic for this post is when did this all start, where does it – "plus size fashion" - and where do we stand as a society in this regard, and where the whole thing is heading. Though the major attention will be given to the history of plus size fashion.

Let us jump right into it then.

What was there before the whole plus-size cul-de-sac?

Well, it's hard to say what exactly was the scenario before the whole plus-size impasse began. Though the term "Plus Size" was not around at a certain point in time, but, the problems plus size people went through were still there.

Everything was hunk dory (Pretty much) till the 1800s. For over 400 years, curvy was actually the ideal body shape. Then came the 1900s and so did the industrial revolution & technological advancements.

I am going to side-line a bit here, but to give you an idea of how we Indians or Asians have perceived the body shapes throughout our history. You don't have to go back and read history to understand this, all you need to do is have a look at our sculptures at temples, museums, etc.

During my research for this post, I came across an amazing essay about Learning Body Positivity From a 700-Year-Old Hindu Statue. You must give it a read, it's beautifully written, positive and educational. In this essay, the author quotes a note written below the statue of Parvati in a museum that says, "Parvati is shown with the large eyes, round breasts, narrow waist, and broad hips that were elements of ideal beauty for a woman in ancient India.”

All I am trying to say that there was a time when body size or shapes did not matter. There was no discrimination until the end of the 1800s. Everything was good and then came the 1900s and it's ironic too. Keep reading and you will understand the irony of it all in the next section.

History of Plus Size Fashion – Where & How it all began.

In the previous section, I mentioned that it is the advent of technology and its advancements that lead to discrimination of Body shapes and sizes.

You might ask what technological advancements has to do with Plus Size fashion or plus size clothing.

Well, you see, until the 1800s all the clothes were made to order. Technological advancements made it easier to mass-produce clothes. The mass production led to fewer variations in sizes since the factories wanted to cut costs and save a buck or two. Stout Wear – that is what they called it at the time – was separated & most of the stores never sold them. People started having issues with choosing the right size of clothing for their bodies.

Ironically, it is in 1904 when the first-ever exclusive plus-size store was started by Lena Bryant. Lena Bryant was skilled at altering already produced or readymade – as we call it today – clothes. She put this skill of hers into use and started this plus-size store of hers in New York. Also, here is an interesting fact for you; Lena Bryant was the one who coined the term "Plus Size”.

Soon after this, lots of fashion designers and clothing merchants saw this as an opportunity, and various plus-size stores sprung up.

While all this happened in the early 90s. Something completely contrasting was happening in India during the late 90s - 1960s to be exact. The obsession of Bollywood with slim-fit clothing was taking over. With actors sporting Tight-fitting jackets & drainpipe trousers, a new trend was beginning in India.

Where are we today in terms of Plus Size Fashion & Clothing?

Image Source: freepik.com

It was only in 2006 that plus-size clothing stores came to be in India that too online store. Having said that, I definitely can see improvements in the mind-set of people and the industry as a whole. There are being Fashion Shows conducted to promote Plus Size clothing designs & Plus Size Fashion as a whole. Times are definitely changing. But my question is, is it still discriminating or uplifting to promote a size that should have been common all along? Ponder over it and let me know your views in the comments down below.

While most of the outlets and e-commerce websites have included plus size in their collections, there is still a long way to go for us as an industry as well as humans respecting each other regardless of body shape or size.

2008 is the year that saw the inception of plus size blogs in the Fashion industry & in 2009 we saw the first-ever fashion week dedicated to just plus sizes in the name of "Full Figured Fashion Week" which was organized by a former plus-size model Gwen DeVoe.

Today, we can plus-size models walking the shows, emerging in Magazine covers & actresses starring in TVs. Well, there is still a weird aversion towards these women in entertainment, but we can see it changing.


While there is a change in the wind in the mindset of people and the Fashion Industry, we still got an awfully long way to go. Yes, there are several websites that provide a myriad of options in plus size clothing, but the access is still nowhere near when compared to other more common sizes.

PS: The views mentioned here are my own and the facts mentioned are based on an awful lot of research. Apologies incase any part of this post was offending in any way. I was just trying to put forth the facts. In case you find any discrepancy in the facts, point it out in the comments below. Don't just point out the mistakes, instead, let us know your opinions on the topic as well.

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