I make fun of ModCloth on the regular; it's kind of impossible not to. At times, their sheer tweeness is enough to make Lisa Frank look like Axl Rose, and there are only so many bespectacled cats you can fit on one outfit. But I have a (truly adorable) secret. The same day I wrote this article, I ordered this, this, and this. Because you know what? I want to put a fucking bird on it, too.
Yes, that's correct. I want to wear adorable shit — and so do a lot of women above a size 10. According to the CDC, the average American woman is 5 foot 4, 167 pounds, and has a 37-inch waist — roughly a size 14. Yet most designer styles top out around size 12. ModCloth has recently become cognizant of this fact, and their plus-size business is booming because of it. Within eight months of introducing their hefty hideaway collections (not what they're called) (but what they should be called), plus sizes represented 8% of their revenue.
Money talks, and thunder thighs walk straight into cuter clothes:
ModCloth found that new plus-size customers spend 25% more per order, buy 17% more items per order than regular-sized shoppers, and are 66% more likely to spread the ModCloth gospel via social media. The San Francisco-based retailer is now including large fashion models alongside slim ones in fashion shoots and investing in a specialized team to train clothing brands to make fashionable styles in big sizes.
"We think plus sizes could be even bigger than our regular sizes," ModCloth's plus-size category manager, Samara Fetto, told the Wall Street Journal. "Our small-medium-large customer has other options for retailers who can steal a portion of her wallet. For plus, her options are much more limited."
That is the Motherfucking Truth, right there! Why, just today I had lunch with a lovely, straight sized friend of mine and she commented several times on the adorableness of my Seahorse Ya Later dress*. I was all, "ModCloth, girl!" and she was all, "I'm always so nervous to order clothes online!" I had to explain that for me, it's not a choice. Even Old Navy has inexplicably taken its plus size clothing out of stores — there are very few places I can shop in person. And when I do, I gotta choose between frumpy mother of the bride (bejeweled mumus) and sulky teenage wannabe pinup goth (skulls and bones and cherries, oh my). (I know all you plus sized shoppers feel me!)
We want cute-ass clothes, and if Gabi Gregg's cute-ass plus size swimwear selling out almost instantly isn't a cue to fashion retailers, I don't know what is.
Luckily, there are some designers of the future who have heard our cries — and aren't responding by telling us to lose weight, fatties.
At Cornell University this semester, two apparel-design students found in their research that plus-size women hold 28% of apparel purchasing power in the U.S., while their spending accounts for only 17%. Laura Zwanziger and Brandon Wen created designs for a size 14 to 36 collection they called "Rubens' Women" for their product-development project. After body-scanning students on the school's Ithaca, N.Y., campus, they created a size 24 dress form. "You want to follow the curves of the body, not cover it up with fabric," says Ms. Zwanziger.
Mr. Wen wants to pursue a career in plus-size fashion. He says, "There is a lack of history in this field, which lends itself better to create completely new styles and visuals.
Excellent — we're ready for you, Brandon! Let's fuck shit up. Maybe one day I'll even be allowed to buy my size at an IRL store?? Oh, to dream such dreams!
Isn't it a little shocking that design students aren't flocking to this? I mean, I know the designers on Project Runway just about slit their throats when they have to design for a size 10, but don't these people have half a brain? If size 14 is really the average size of the American woman, it makes an insane amount of sense from a business POV to dive into the fat end of the swimming pool. Come on, don't be scared — the water's fine, and we have snacks! (Get it, cause we're fat!)
*or whatever delightful as fuck name they gave the dress covered in seahorses