The Rise of Plus Size Fashion

Find out more about the positive impact of the plus size fashion industry and the demand for 'curvy' fashion.

Recently there has been a strong focus in the media around curves and fashion which was kick started by Cosmopolitan Magazine’s ‘Cosmo size hero’ campaign. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics there has been a change in the Australian population. Women and men are getting “bigger” yet the fashion industry has had difficulties keeping up with these developments.

Between 1995 and 2011/12, the average height for men increased by 0.8 cm and for women by 0.4 cm, while the average weight for men increased by 3.9 kg and for women by 4.1 kg. From recent buzz around the internet and the focus around plus size models and fashion in general, it’s clear that there is not only a market for “Curvy” fashion but a strong demand.


Gone are the days of retailers offering unflattering baggy clothes, to compete in this market you need to have trend led, flattering collections. Online fashion stores such as ASOS have their own in house label, ASOS Curve, as well as stocking other brands such as Lipstick Boutique Plus. Many retailers and online fashion houses are looking to follow, increasing competition and ultimately giving women with curves more options when it comes to fashion.

Natasha Smith, Established Buyer at ASOS Curve  “The attitude towards plus size fashion has completely changed and with the industry finally seeing that plus size can be fashion forward and trend driven too, means that that as a whole the plus size fashion scene can only improve.”

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in events around the world especially tailored to the plus-size community. A prime example of this is the Curvy Couture Show which celebrates individual home grown designers that offer clothes for all shapes. The Roadshow is the first plus size fashion festival event in Melbourne that showcases independent Australian plus size designers.

Australian Models making an impact

In past five years, “plus size” models have started to make a real impact and are helping to make the fashion industry look at the term plus size in a different light.

Darrianne Donnelly, Director & Model Agent for BGM Models has nearly 20 years’ experience in the industry;

“I established BGM Models in 1996 nearly 20 years so I can speak with authority on how the changes have developed and how the industry has grown from a fledging business into a profitable industry for designers, manufacturers and most importantly models.

Ten years ago it was thought to be highly unlikely that a plus size model would ever make modelling her full time job; well this is now a reality where many BGM Models live and work internationally as full time models. The designers now understand how important it is to their bottom line on having clothes that are on trend and fit the varied body shapes, making great clothes is only part of it marketing it to the masses is the other issue.”

Donnelly goes on to explain Australia’s role in the market, “Australia has definitely made an impact on the international market with clients such as City Chic who are now an international brand, companies such as ASOS who showcase many labels and select beautiful models for the website. Imagine if you will trying to find a wedding outfit 10 years ago if you were a size 20, now you can go on-line and see hundreds of websites with great offerings of every design of gown possible worn by beautiful size 16+ models. As a model agent for 20 years I love the way the industry is embracing our models and they in turn are making a difference.”

There are so many fantastic Australian models changing the face of plus size modelling, breaking all the ‘typical’ fashion rules for curvy girls and looking great while they do it.

Robyn Lawely is proactively trying to bridge the gap between straight size and plus size models. She has actively spoken out about trends such as the thigh gap and regularly promotes positive body image.

Brisbane born Georgina Burke has recently smashed the myth that curvy girls shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes in her latest gig with Torrid.  In a recent article with, Georgina said that: “I always dress to work with my curves and not hide them. I break all the so called ‘rules’ for dressing a curvy figure; skinny jeans, stripes, patterns. I am always totally myself and wear what I feel great in.”

Bree Warren has hit up some major campaigns including ASOS Curve, Simply Be lingerie and she has even been short listed to appear in a Tom Ford shoot.


Not only are Australian models making an impact but so is the plus size blogging community. They are giving real women, their real opinions on the best stores to shop at. With bloggers displaying OOTD (outfit of the day) articles, their readers can see what the clothes really look like on. This is especially useful for those that regularly shop online.

Sunny Spiteri from Life of Sunny explains, “I believe the rise of the blogger is, in part, due to the public’s desire for bias-free reviews. I could write six billion sonnets to a skirt, but it would mean diddly-squat without a picture of me wearing it.”

“For so long there were harsh rules surrounding plus size fashion but the Body Positive movement has opened up a world of fashion we were previously denied. Suddenly there is a large portion of the market with just as much disposable income willing to literally throw money at the next sequin dress they find – they’re getting excited about shopping and willing to push their limits like never before. It is only because of retailers like ASOS who have opened their ranges to the bigger end of the market that these women are able to finally join the fashionable ranks of their straight sized friends.”

Note: Plus size is a term used in the industry this does not reflect the journalist’s opinions  

Want more? We thought you might like this video.


Sign Out

Join the Conversation

Please note, LifeStyle cannot respond to all comments posted in our comments feed. If you have a comment or query you would like LifeStyle to respond to, please use our feedback form.