There’s a new player on the plus-size fashion scene, and she knows her demographic very intimately: The Gossip singer Beth Ditto just dropped her namesake fashion line yesterday. “I always have an event to go to or something to do, and I don’t have the beautiful privilege of being able to walk into a store and be like, ‘that dress, that’s the one,'” Ditto tells Refinery29 of the impetus behind starting her own line. “I’m always having to rush around or get creative, get someone to make me something, or wear something old.” “I know it sounds like fancy problems — and it is a fancy problem! — but the truth is, if you don’t have the luxury of just walking into a place and finding something you can feel good about buying, that’s made ethically and of extremely high-quality... ” she adds. “There’s just a huge gap: quality, ethics, love, consideration, and passion, because this is [a collection] made by a fat person, for fat people.” The debut collection, available now on BethDitto.com and at Selfridges across the pond, is comprised of 11 pieces offered in sizes 14 to 28. Ditto also rolled out the collection with a presentation at NYFW yesterday. “I want it to be versatile, and to look good on every single body; it’s very fit- and shape-focused, and I wanted everything to be durable.” Ditto’s second collection of her namesake line is already in motion, “and it’s even more fun to work on than the first collection, because I learned so much,” Ditto says.
Ditto wants to fill a void in the plus-size market with her eponymous brand: “There are a lot of high street brands, but they don’t always have what you need, and you can’t just find what you need in a department store, except, maybe, prom dresses,” she explains. “Even that’s new — when I was kid, there weren’t prom dresses in my size. We had to make them. Or, you could buy a bridesmaid dress and hope that would work, but who wants to do that?” Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Versace are labels Ditto highlights as being particularly great to work with over the years. Though she didn’t consult any of those designers for advice about launching her own line, Ditto did pair up with Gaultier on a special T-shirt to hype her collection. “So sweet, that man. I love that man — he’s the nicest person. He is a total dreamboat,” Ditto says.
Besides that T-shirt collab, Ditto and Gaultier’s fashion pair-ups over the years have included Ditto’s catwalk cameo in his spring 2011 show. When she moonlit as a model again in September, at Marc Jacobs’ spring 2016 show, it was, in a word, “hilarious,” Ditto says. “I was just trying not to laugh. I’m so short, and I had to keep up the pace. I was chuggin’ — I was booking it! I felt like a mall-walker. The models gave me a little session backstage on how to walk; it was really sweet.” As for the target audience for Ditto’s eponymous line? “I would love to see a girl walking to work in one of the skirts from my collection; that would make me so incredibly happy,” she says. Her ideal demo also includes drag queens, Gabourey Sidibe, Melissa McCarthy, and Rebel Wilson.
“I’m not super surprised, honestly. Change is slow,” Ditto says of where plus-size fashion is in 2016. “In the last 10 years, so much has changed, in large part because of the internet, but it isn’t anywhere near what it could be or will be, at all.” Her vision for the future of this segment of the fashion industry isn’t just about the range of clothes available — it’ll take a much more inclusive, less judgmental outlook on the plus-size community for things to truly be more equal for those that don’t wear straight-sizes.
“I wish that people would stop equating fat people with laziness, and with being unhealthy,” Ditto says. “I hope that will be reflected in fashion lines that cater to big people." It'll take a major shift in terms of size discrimination (however overt or subtle) for plus-size fashion to really evolve, according to Ditto. "There’s still this idea that we don’t exist, or that it’s only okay to be big if you’re pregnant or older," Ditto says. "That’s such an archaic idea to me! Especially as someone who grew up as a big person — I would really like for that to go away.” Check out a behind-the-scenes video of the lookbook shoot for Ditto's new line, below.