Plus Size & Pint Size | The small company sizing debate
Published: 11th June 2019
A few months back we were contacted by the lovely Miss MozzyDee – Plus size pinup model and rhythm and blues singer Miss MozzyDee, a frequent advocate for diversity, equality, and plus size representation, regarding our current size range. We pointed her in the direction of our size charts & this blog which explains a little about why we do the sizes we do. Being the driving force for supporting diversity, she did the right thing, and pushed us for more answers. This blog is a combination of Mozzy Dee’s email (included with permission), our responses and some additional information.
The aim here is to try to express why we have the size range we do. Plus create a constructive way to help you, our wonderful customers and wonderful future customers. Read to the bottom to see how you can be a part of informing changes to our size range.
Product & Size Development
LKL – When we first created our Classic style, we asked our fans on facebook and twitter (before people used Instagram like they do,) for their waist, hip and inseam. We used this information to develop the first prototypes. Then these were worn for a few months to test them out. See where changes may be needed to be made etc. We also used the information of waist and hip sizes to help develop the size range. I was aware that some people might not feel comfortable sharing this information, particularly not publicly. So I did my best to make it clear there was no judgement, just that we needed the information to develop styles and people could DM us or email it over to keep it out of the public space.
Over time, we collected feedback (when someone returns any item to us we ask why, to help us guide other customers and to help see where we may need to tweak a pattern before the next run), along with seeing people try items on, etc. We could see there was a clear need for jeans with a bigger hip to waist ratio. At that point brands in the rockabilly and pin up clothing community didn’t offer the range of denim they now do. The high street also didn’t do a tight high waist option and we were one of very few who did. So we developed the HMB pattern, from the Classic block. We measured and requested measurements from around 30+ people. Then traced the shape of people’s hip profile to get the distance and angle between waist and hips right. We made and tested and refined and tested numerous samples. It took around 2 years to bring them out.
The Le Wild style again followed from feedback online and in person as did the Polly. Following a very similar process as above. For the Polly in particular we had feedback from people returning jeans where the rise was too long, our process of asking customers why they were returning helped up form the cut of the following styles.
Size & Fit models
MD -I would also recommend hiring several different shaped plus models to measure them, research sizing, and mold the plus size standard to your needs. Ask them how they would like to feel in the jeans or clothing you create. Asking more plus size women, not just myself, would give you better insight as to what we are looking for. Also, when you do create plus size clothing, be sure to market to the demographic and not just show regular sized models in your clothing. Hire plus size models! Show women that you are also inclusive in your sizes and embrace plus size women as much as anyone else.
I am a size 20/22 depending on brand when it comes to dress size and/or jeans. I have full hips and a long torso, however plus sizes are not all one particular shape. My waist to hip ratio is high, from a 38″ waist to a 52″ hip. The rise of jeans usually range from 16″ to 16.5″ when it comes to high-waisted styles in my size, which I find is a comfortable range.
LKL – We absolutely agree that no body is the same and no body is the right body! All bodies are great, what ever their size, shape, colour, and ability range. When we create new styles we try them on a range of people, which all fall into the same body shape that these items are intended for. With our Hug Me Baby style we tried on a range of people with similar body shapes and similar measurements
To produce a successful (and we’re meaning successful because the items make women feel great about themselves) plus size or petite range, we need a range of fit models to try and test products. Lady K Loves would want to follow our previous process to produce the perfect 50′ jeans for plus sized dames, and rockabilly denim for petite femmes. Ensuring the quality is high is important to us, and that starts with making sure the fit is right.
We don’t work with ‘models’ as such, we regularly feature girls we swoon on across social media. The emphasis is to work with a range of looks, from skin tones heights and body shapes. Depending on when the items are being photographed and what we have in stock we are at times limited by sample sizes.
We do however have a shoot planned we’re really excited about as we feel it’s a important move in representing our diverse audience…..watch this space.
MD -Mozzy also mentioned specific brands and their ranges, we’ve removed this because we don’t feel it’s our place to comment on how other brands manage their production or product development. However we have included our response below
LKL – We have some plans afoot for our denim range currently. Should these go in the direction we would like, this would mean we’re able to look at further developing our denim ranges. It would need to wait until much later in the year, but what we really need is to have a clear call for it. Ideally emails with measurements, including waist, hip, front and back rise, in-seam, preferred style/look.
This is all before we look at the delicate subject of costs.
There’s lots of toes to tread on and feelings to hurt around this and we would want to make sure we had advice from a small collection of people who would be able to help us navigate this in a way which wouldn’t make people feel bad about themselves, because it’s the last thing that we’re about.
In terms of small businesses you mentioned. It really depends on the company’s production style. I know some smaller companies who work with out-workers. These people are seamstresses/tailors in their own location and make handfuls of each style. Other companies work with factory’s like we do. Out-workers gives more flexibility on sizing because each person will make say 10 of the same item. 1 person might make all a certain size. However there are drawback on prices, quality control and range of logistical issues to navigate.
With regards to the much larger brands mentioned, these companies aren’t small. They have a lot of capital behind them, are making en-mass and so have large bulk order discounts. They also quite possibly don’t have the intentions we do with regards to sustainability, ethical production, environmental considerations etc. I wouldn’t want to say comment on specific brands as I haven’t looked at their values or philosophy. Lady K Loves makes sure to work with sustainable and ethical factories where the employees are treated fairly. The environmental impact of production is considered and lessened and where our issues and requests around these concerns are taken seriously.
MD – Usually when this happens, they find that they have to constantly order more of these sizes and frequently run out of stock. Eventually, they make a profit because they have introduced the range and now, plus size women know that they can rely on the company to have their size.
LKL – Head on over to our sale section and you will see a theme. X’s, be it XS or XXL the majority of sizes which hang around are the extremes of our size range. The ideas we’ve already spoken about help you understand why this is. Someone who is a size XS may be naturally very slim with little to no muscle or fat on their body and as such may not fill out clothing in a way they like, or they may be really curvy but petite. No one is a right or wrong body, but we find we sell less at either end of the size range. We work with our factories to make sure where possible there is a sensible ratio made. From time to time it needs a little tweaking but for the most part we do ok at hitting the sweat spot of holding enough of the right sizes.
As a small business holding stock which isn’t selling means we can’t make more styles. We have to balance what we want to do, with what we can do, and what the most of our customers want from us.
For us to stock a larger size range we need to know there is demand for it. Read until the end to find out how you can make this clear.
MD – Small businesses that provide plus size pin up & rockabilly clothing have done market research on designs and measurements for their brands.%