Plus-size women account for 33% of the American population and 28% of the purchasing power, but there's no denying: a lot is lacking when it comes to plus-size clothing. From the range of apparel options available to the frustrations with mass producing a standard pattern for a variety of plus-size shapes and sizes — to models to mannequins to just about everything else — the plus-size clothing and accessories industry is hugely flawed. In every facet of the industry, there are big, foundational changes to be instituted. But now however, there just might be some major improvements in fit thanks to two college students from Cornell.
Apparel design sophomores Brandon Wen and Laura Zwanziger initially set out to create a plus-size clothing collection for their Product Development class, but ran into a problem finding reliable dress mannequins or fit models to develop their patterns. Using the data gathered from thousands of 3D body imaging scans collected by Cornell's Fiber Science & Apparel Design department, the duo built a mannequin that most closely matched the median plus-size woman, a pear-shaped, size-24 figure. Their professor, Susan Ashdown, explained that their methodology went above and beyond merely just creating a larger mannequin: "Instead of just scaling up something designed for a different-sized woman, or even thinking about clothing as something to disguise a body or make a body look different than it is, the students sought to celebrate shape as it really is." The final collection, called Rubens' Women, (named after the Baroque painter, Rubens, who favored painting plus-size figures in his work), consisted of four jackets, a skirt, and a pair of paints, which were designed with their new dress form.
No news about whether the duo plan to sell their form to plus-size brands and retailers yet, but we think that this is a great first step to providing clothing for all shapes and sizes (and hopefully, soon, the shapes and sizes will extend beyond their pear-shaped, size-24 norm). Says Ashdown, "Issues of health aside, we’re all different body shapes and body proportions. Each person deserves to have clothing designed for them as they are, not as they relate to some abstract industry shape." (Cornell via Jezebel)