Tim’s Smoking Gunn; It’s Not Designer’s Duty to Offer Plus Size

It’s a weighty topic but I decided to weigh in for FashionUnited.com…timgunn

In a display of designer-shaming last week, Tim Gunn wrote a lengthy piece for The Washington Post published just in time for New York Fashion Week in which he addresses the “puzzling conundrum” of why designers refuse to provide clothes to accommodate the 100 million plus-size women in America. He explains, “There is money to be made here (20.4 billion dollar, up 17 percent from 2013). But many designers — dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or simply too cowardly to take a risk — still refuse to make clothes for them.”

In his rant, Gunn positions himself as champion of fuller-figured females everywhere, villainizing those designers who don’t cave under the fall of his gavel as he presides over the court of popular opinion. It’s a win-win situation for him; a PR coup. But the above argument, which has economic gain not concern for a neglected customer at heart, supposes that if there’s money to be made, any designer worth his CFDA membership should be hurtling towards that plus-size pot to empty every cent out of it…Please continue reading here

6 comments

  1. I have to digest this. Really gutsy. I never considered how a design can or cannot be altered depending on size. For that matter, I never considered what it might feel like to go to stores and not being able to find anything you like that fits. Now that many stores have created petite sections for their smaller customers maybe they can do the same for plus sizes?

  2. It’s so rare and so amazing in our society to read that someone’s going to take a moment before firing off an opinion! But I would expect nothing less from you. You’re a class act.
    I felt a sense of duty to speak on behalf of the designers who can’t seem to catch a break anymore. And I have nothing to lose not currently being active in design. But the expectation that they should jump right to order or bullying, whether they want to or not, strikes me as wrong.

  3. You raise some interesting points, both by critiquing what is seen as a ‘brave’ stance and suggesting some real ways towards change that do not stigmatize designers. Personally, I know little of the fashion industry and cannot comment as to whether its role is to create art and fantasy or to serve real women. I do know that my body is very far from sample size and that it is difficult to find things in the shops that make me both feel and look good. But I would rather see plurality in the design world rather than the dictates of the politically correct!

  4. What a fantastic article, Jackie, really well-written, and made me think. As a plus-sized woman myself with actual woman parts, I do find it frustrating that high fashion doesn’t seem to be for me at all, and therefore feels about as relevant to me as a hammock made of carburettors. I completely understand your frustration with a clickbait-seeking, cash-driven and solution-empty attack on designers, but I would also like the dichotomy between fashion and real humans to be reduced, however creative the clothes. For instance, I never look at a painting and instantly think “oh, well, that’s obviously nothing to do with me.”

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Tara. And the hammock of carburetors visual. I completely hear you regarding frustrations with the marketplace offerings for boobs and butts and all those other pesky things that “disrupt the line”. I think some designers will always struggle with the idea that a dress is not a painting. But living in the US where commercialism and milking every marketing angle rules over integrity or artistic endeavor, I often rear up in reaction. I think if I was a designer with my own line (God help me, I never choose that route now that I should know better) I would do whatever the carburetor I like and to hell with populist opinion. I’d never be accused of trying to be all things to all folks but I think that’s ok too. I’d be out of business within the year but what an adventure, eh! 🙂

  5. Wow! Much to digest. I work with some larger individuals and see first hand their challenges, but I see the need for a vision to be shared as is…that person’s vision. If that is not for fuller bodies – ok. got it. Perhaps there are more visionaries out there who will do great things with new shapes – they just need a hand, push, venue or to be tapped.

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