Fashion's Plus-Sized Double Standards

The designer of the new Biggest Loser fashion line has accused the fashion industry of peddling double standards when it comes to celebrating womanly curves.

Bruno Schiavi's Jupi Corporation announced in May its appointment as the official designer and distributer of the Biggest Loser Apparel Range, a spin-off of the hit TV series, with the US network NBC.

The Australian lingerie designer says the industry is being hypocritical in supporting plus-sized models on the catwalk while neglecting larger women at retail level.

Schiavi says there is still a massive gap for plus-size women who want to look fashionable.

"It really irks me ... when designers go out there and say 'yes we are behind plus size' and yet their collections are never made for a large size, it's really a double standard," Schiavi says.

Due to launch in the US this September, Schiavi won the international Biggest Loser deal partly because of his track record, which includes the "Dr Rey Shapewear" collection and the Peter Morrissey Big W range which is designed to include plus sizes.

The 40-year-old fashion veteran also insists on booking voluptuous models to showcase his ranges. He says women should be empowered by fashion no matter what their size.

"Every year a lot of these designers come out and say that they embrace curves, but it's a lot of rubbish because they don't," he says.

Schiavi says designers are too worried about margins to produce plus-size fashion, because it costs more to manufacture.

Despite the average dress size in Australia being a 14, the retail reality, from high-end boutiques to major fitness brands, is that the plus-sized consumer is being left out in the cold.

"If you go into any major sports retailer have a look at what they basically do, you will never find a size XXX in women's in one of the major brands," he says.

"Large sportswear brand stop at large. How are these men and women meant to dress if they can't buy something to look great?"

His attack comes as the June/July issue of Australian Harper's Bazaar features an article on The Return of Curves, complete with a photo of Australia's Next Top Model 2009 winner Tahnee Atkinson looking voluptuous in a Herve Leger dress.

Australian Harper's Bazaar editor Edwina McCann says the move towards more normal sized models comes as a backlash against past trends, such as the "waif", "alien" and "heroin chic" looks.

"I don't think that the fashion industry can deny that the models did become in some cases terrifyingly thin and I think there is a general movement publicly to see them shift back to curvier then that," McCann admits.

"Off course more women would like to see reality reflected back at them, and that's why you get with the winner of Master Chef, or even Tahnee winning Australia's Next Top Model - people like to see more normal people winning because (of the)'hey that could be me' kind of thing."

But she admits she probably wouldn't put a "general plus size model" on the cover of the popular glossy.
"Primarily we wouldn't have the sample size clothing to do that ... we are a fashion magazine and the fashion on the cover is the foremost issue for us," she says.

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