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Rise of the Plus-Size: Why Hasn’t Zara Joined the Party?

Photo by Chalo Garcia on Unsplash

“Big” is beautiful. Just check out Ashley Graham on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. As their first-ever plus-size cover girl, Graham is sexy, beautiful, and undoubtedly boy—and girl—crush-worthy on all accounts, if I do say so myself.

Ashley Tipton is also breaking down barriers for the community of curvier women. Tipton won the popular fashion competition Project Runway as the first-ever exclusively plus-size designer, bringing full-figure fashion to mainstream audiences. With her adorable and unique take on plus-size style, Tipton designs for a curvaceous girl with personality, spunk, and a desire to be a trendsetter.

Lane Bryant is adding to body-positive publicity with its #PlusIsEqual campaign. As are RunwayRiot—a shopping site that boasts 100 percent unretouched editorial fashion spreads and Straight/Curve—a documentary set to release this fall that aims to expose the fashion industry’s painfully slow movement toward plus-size inclusiveness. 

With deep pockets, to the tune of $18 million per year, the plus-size market remains largely untapped. There is an ever-growing demand for big brands to become more universally sized. So why would one of the world’s largest retailers and number 58 on the Forbes ‘The Worlds Most Valuable Brands’ list, not capitalize on the rise of the plus-size?

With more than 2,000 stores worldwide, Zara is universally loved for its clean silhouettes and chic-yet-affordable options. Its clothing is undoubtedly a staple in every woman’s basic wardrobe. It’s a shame to watch a brand with such great collections fail to embrace diversity while other big brands like H&M and Calvin Klein cater to women of all sizes and reap the economic benefits.

Browsing through Zara’s offerings, you would have no idea that the average clothing size of the American woman is a size 14. Curvy women have raised their voices in dispute, but Zara isn’t listening.

For the often overlooked and underrepresented community ​of over 100 million plus-size women in America, this is a huge miss. Rebel Wilson, a plus-size actress and body-positive promoter, recently commented, “Even though America is a larger size, there are not many designers or companies that are catering to plus-size [people] who are trying to be cool and on-trend.” Full figure ladies all over deserve and desire to have just as many fashion-forward, stylish options as everyone else and are willing to spend money getting it. For comedian and emerging fashion designer Melissa McCarthy, promoting and building size equality within the fashion community has become her personal mission. Her clothing line, Seven7, was designed to give all women a whole new love of shopping. “I want to help women lose ‘the uniform’ and discover their own personal style.” And she makes a good point, “It’s a strange thing to stop at a certain size. Women don’t, so why should clothes?”

It is no secret the fashion world can be arrogant and selective and most certainly not always welcoming to the needs of women with a little more junk in the trunk, but does Zara really want to join the not-so “cool kids club” Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, Mike Jeffries, tried to create back in 2013? The obvious answer should be ‘no.’ But their too-small-for-Americans sizes are saying otherwise.

It would be great to give Zara the benefit of the doubt and assume this has nothing to do with fashion snobbery and everything to do with the fact that plus-size ladies just spend less money on clothes; that they make do with what they are offered and focus their spending on accessories, hair, and makeup to add creativity and expression to their personal style. But this simply is not the case.

Hopefully, Zara will listen to the united voices of women everywhere asking for its clean lines and fashion-forward clothing in a size that lovingly hugs the curves of their bodacious bods, but until it catches up with the times, here are some amazing body-positive retailers that luscious ladies everywhere can turn to RunwayRiot, H&M, Gwynnie Bee, and Eloquii.

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