Major strides have been made in fashion over the last few decades. We’ve seen size inclusivity go from nonexistent to barely there, but for a while it felt like at least something was happening because the conversation had begun. It was just a few years ago that fashion blogger and Megababe founder Katie Sturino took to social media to ask brands to “Make My Size,” a practice she still participates in on Instagram and her 12-ish Style blog. Even then, back in 2018, it felt like more brands were willing to listen.
Fast forward three years and I’m still disappointed that I can’t walk into my favorite vintage-inspired designer dress store and buy one of their flowery, fluttery creations. Today, on the other side of a post-pandemic fashion resurgence, it seems as if we really haven’t come that far at all—or I wouldn’t be standing outside a designer store, like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, feeling excluded from high fashion unless there’s an upcoming Target collab.
However, 2021 is also the year that has brought us Remi Bader’s viral fitting room frustrations on TikTok, model Precious Lee ruling the runway at NYFW, and Lizzo celebrating every-sized body in both song and social media. To take the temperature on where we really stand today, I checked in with Sturino and model Hunter McGrady who often joined in the “Make My Size” campaign. Here’s what they had to say about the current state of size inclusivity.
Where We Are
If it feels like we’re a bit stagnant on the size inclusive front, Sturino says we are. My first question is, why aren’t more brands catering to diverse sizing and body types? Is it a financial concern or is it gatekeeping?
“I think brands will always list finances as a reason, because the idea is more fabric means more costs, but I’ve learned that finance is not really as big of a hurdle as we’ve been led to believe, and designers like Tanya Taylor have been really upfront about that,” Sturino says.
“I think what we are discovering is that some brands are just still going to stay in the old guard of fashion,” she adds. “I think that has to do with the way that they view themselves or the mindset that their founders have about themselves. I don’t think there is a desire to serve bigger girls. The attitude is, if you don’t fit into our clothes, then lose weight.”
“I know I’m going to sound like a negative Nancy, but I’m really not impressed when there’s just one model,” notes McGrady when asked about inclusivity at New York Fashion Week. “Brands have a responsibility, and you can make a change in this world, or you can stay complacent and stay stagnant. They can choose who they want to be. For me, when I look at fashion week, I still don’t feel represented, even after 16 years in the industry, and that’s really discouraging. I make it a point to skip Fashion Week for this reason and I have to turn down jobs and requests to work with certain people because it’s not a place where we are represented and I’m really picky about that.”
McGrady, who is working with Olay and Juicy Couture collaboration (for Cyber Monday, Olay is gifting customers with a free marigold-hued Juicy Couture tracksuit when they spend $150 or more on Olay.com) says size inclusivity is the number one thing she looks for when working with brands. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to say, ‘Oh, I wish I could work with you, but it doesn’t come in my size. So, [I love] working with Olay and Juicy Couture, who made special Y2K nostalgic track suits for this deal in sizes that go up to 4X.”
Where We Need to Go
Despite the lack of bandwagon for size inclusivity, Sturino believes there has been some headway made since she started the movement. “Madewell makes my size and actually has committed to doing it, Athleta has committed to doing it, J. Crew has even extended their sizes from when we started,” she shares, sounding more hopeful. “Veronica Beard was a major coup, I know they had setbacks with their extended sizing inventory due to COVID, but it’s all coming back. Old Navy also launched their #bodequality campaign this year to be more size inclusive, too.”
As far as the future goes, I too hope that we’ll see more of the high-end designer and luxury brands adopting extended size ranges, and not just for a fashion week show. Sturino says the only way to continue the movement is through our pocketbooks and our voices. “You do have a voice and I think that is something that we didn’t used to do is say something. Women have been used to just shuffling out of the store and feeling bad or calling a friend, but one thing we can do is say something to the manager. It feels better to say something, even if it’s on social media.”
And that’s really the thing about the Make My Size movement that Sturino and McGrady think is special. It’s not a movement for them, it’s a movement for other women, “to feel less alone and less defeated when they’re in the fitting room trying on jeans that won’t get past their knees,” Sturino adds. And while many of us know not to even walk into most of these stores to avoid that scenario, movements like this help shed a light on the collective experiences women above a standard size 10 continue to have.