Retail therapy should come with an all-access pass, but a lack of size options can be a real buzzkill. With the average Canadian woman wearing jeans with a 33-inch waistband (around a size 14), there’s still a serious disconnect between the need for variety of fit options and killer style. But there are signs things are starting to shift, as both independent labels and mass-market brands, such as Joe Fresh and LOFT, are stepping up to offer more inclusive sizing.
“I think it's hard for brands to ignore the variety of womanhood, and if they do, it’s a detriment to their bottom line,” says Canadian designer Kaelen Haworth, whose label, Second Sight, offers sizes 00–24. Crediting the influence of body-positive models like Ashley Graham, Candice Huffine and Lauren Chan, Haworth says the industry is moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.
The Canadian plus-size market is worth about $1.6 billion, so what’s stopping more brands from getting on board? In a nutshell: It ain’t easy, and it ain’t cheap. “It’s difficult to add extended sizing — the fit process is a little bit different, and it takes a significant investment of time and money to get it right,” says Haworth.
Toronto-based designer Hilary MacMillan, who just expanded her fit range, agrees. “It is very expensive to broaden size offerings,” she says. “Our struggle has been in marrying our brand’s beliefs with that of our capital capabilities when looking at costing, production, and manufacturing.” MacMillan is committed to running an environmentally conscious business — and if she doesn’t sell garments in extended sizes, that means waste.
Part of convincing brands to take on the challenge means shoppers making their voices, and their buying power, heard. Haworth points to the hashtag #makemysize, created by Katie Sturino (whose @the12ishstyle Instagram account has more than 242,000 followers), as a way to call designers and companies to action. “Hopefully brands will respond and realize they are missing market share,” says Haworth. “The opportunities are endless.”