It was around this time last year when Tim Gunn flooded headlines stating that designers really need to pay attention to plus size women. There are 100 million women that are larger than a size 12 and yet, most retailers don’t have anything above that. He blamed fashion designers and the retail industry for the lack of diversity in the plus size market. Designers seemed to be afraid to step outside of the box and retailers didn’t feel that plus size women were spending money on what they provided. With which Gunn retorted that of course we weren’t spending money. Most of the clothes available to us are hideous!
One Project Runway alum has not been afraid. In fact, he’s made his name known for doing what other designers wouldn’t, designing red carpet worthy pieces for plus size women. Christian Siriano has designed two collections for Lane Bryant that have both been amazing and has sent plus size models down his runways.
Project Runway has been one of my favorite shows since I was in high school. I’ve seen every single episode of every season multiple times. Each season they have featured a “real woman” challenge where designers have to create clothing for average body sizes instead of the 00 to size 2 that they are used to. Each season they groan when this happens. Designers seem to really hate designing for the average woman. Perhaps it’s because there is more of a challenge to provide a flattering silhouette. No matter what the case may be, the real woman challenge has made a big change for season 16.
Episode 1 opened up with a huge announcement and if I’m going to be honest with you, I got really emotional about it. Heidi introduced that one size does not fit all. Designers would have to work with models from size 2 to 22! I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear this news! Designers would go through a series of challenges working with bodies of all shapes and sizes. This means they’ll soon feel comfortable with plus size women and hopefully translate that into designs for the retail industry. For now, some of the designers aren’t comfortable. You can see they are afraid of curvier figures. In fact, many began using their designs to hide the curves. But what I love about this season is that the judges won’t stand for it. Nina Garcia urged designers to celebrate every size instead of camouflage it. And those who have embraced this have come out with some beautiful pieces.
Tim Gunn and Project Runway are making great strides in the fashion industry to get designers to finally notice a group of women they have ignored for far too long. Perhaps it’s working because this year’s New York Fashion Week is the most diverse it has ever been. Michael Kors featured Ashley Graham down the runway. Prabal Gurung, J. Crew and Who What Wear are a short list of designers who also decided to showcase plus size models this year. I can’t wait to see the fashion industry evolve. It is past time!