She goes on to highlight that while a Kardashian might be able to afford surgery, meal plans, and trainers to change their body, many people, including the Black women who have repeatedly served as an inspiration for the Kardashian empire, aren’t able to so easily chase the trend of a new body. “There’s a lot of women who invested time and money in chasing that unattainable ideal, and it’s going to be particularly jarring that the rewards for having that body are no longer going to be available to you because that’s no longer the beauty standard,” Foster says.
Loft announced on Instagram last year that it would no longer be offering sizes above an 18; Canadian plus-size retailer Addition Elle closed in 2020; and it took less than a year from the August 2021 launch of Old Navy’s splashy plus-size in-store Bodequality initiatives to announce plans to scale back. This shift away from large brands investing resources into plus-size inclusion and expansion is something Nicolette Mason, a plus-size consultant and strategist, confirms she’s also seeing. “Expanding sizing is a very expensive endeavor,” Mason says. “Can brands afford it? Probably, but that’s almost besides the point when they’re focused on their bottom line, and customer acquisition is such an expensive endeavor. I do not think this is the right approach, but a lot of brands, rather than continuing to invest in customer acquisition, creating awareness, creating a great fit and product for a newer segment of customers than what they’ve historically catered to, are instead reverting back to focusing all of their resources on their existing customer base where they know they can make money.”
So is there a path forward for those of us who still hold out hope that diminishing plus representation on the runway doesn’t automatically equate to fewer plus-size designer clothes hanging in our closet? Relying on the plus community was unanimously the answer.
“As disheartening as it is to say that we have to put in more work ourselves, if we want to keep seeing change, that’s what we’re going to have to do because designers simply do not care enough yet,” Russo says, emphasizing that it is up to the plus community to show support for those brands making our sizes.