Plus-sized fashions don't skimp on style

Tops featuring smocking on the shoulders and dolman sleeves are among the styles to watch for....

Tops featuring smocking on the shoulders and dolman sleeves are among the styles to watch for. (Courtesy of Addition Elle)

HEATHER TOSKAN, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:16 PM ET

Call them real-sized or plus-sized, women of all shapes are establishing a weightier presence in the fashion world, garnering greater attention from fashion designers, retailers, and advertisers.

Many women accept themselves, whatever their appearance, and wish to see to see this sentiment reflected in the use of models of all sizes and ages both on the runways and in advertising.

A growing number of international designers, including Prada, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana have recently sent plus-sized models down the runways.

It’s a borderless trend, as Canadian designer Mark Fast included at least one plus-sized model at his show at London Fashion Week, and both Yves Saint Laurent and Canadian brand Joe Fresh Style have featured plus-sized model Crystal Renn on their runways.

“At Joe, we thought it would be great to show a diverse cast on the runway – including women with womanly bodies. So for the Joe Fresh Fall 2010 RTW show – we used Crystal Renn, a real-sized or plus-sized model and Kirsten Owen, an uber model who is still rocking the runways and magazines in her forties,” says Adrienne Shoom, head stylist for Joe Fresh Style.

Canadian designer Jessica Biffi also ventures into plus-sized designs, with her capsule collections for retailer Addition Elle.

“For the longest time, plus-sized women have felt that their voices have not been heard by the fashion industry. It’s great that designers are finally getting on board and realizing that this is not just a niche market. I’m plus-sized myself and although I also design a regular line with smaller sizes, I’m glad to be part of this trend toward designing for all shapes and sizes,” says Biffi.

“Following the negative press around models that are too thin, it appears that designers and retailers have finally realized that they can no longer avoid demographic facts about the women they serve; specifically, that the majority of women today are a size twelve or more,” says Kerry Mitchell, president of Addition Elle.

Mainstream retailers such as Sears and Zellers also see futures with heavier shares of plus-sized clothing.

“Sears offers over ten brands for plus-size women in response to demand from the buying public. We’re expanding the casting demographic in printed media to better reflect our Canadian consumers and are very excited to launch our first plus-size catalog, to be released in September, which focuses on the latest trends, styling tips and the best of fall fashion,” says Cynthia Florek, a brand and trend director at Sears Canada.

In store this fall at Zellers, Canadians will find an expanded plus-sized Pure collection by Canadian designer Alfred Sung, along with other plus-sized apparel.

“Fashion and style are not limited to size or income. Our plus customer is appreciative of the fact that they are being given the same trend-forward options that other customers have,” says Carrie Kirkman, a merchandise manager for Zellers ladies' apparel.

This inclusivity for all women also extends to the beauty world, in advertising for established brands such as Dove.

“We’ve been using real women in our (advertising) campaigns since 2004 and receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from women demonstrating their support of our commitment to showing realistic and attainable images of real women, to represent beauty of all ages, ethnicities, shapes and sizes,” says Sharon MacLeod, a Dove Director.


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