Despite the constant desire for diversity in fashion, we still rarely see a number of large bodies on the catwalks. Inclusivity and diversity are the words that are constantly uttered when a curvy model comes out from behind the scenes and steps onto the podium. But as the show ends and the final walk begins, we are left with several larger models used in the collections.
So how can we applaud designers for their diversity efforts if their collections are still focused primarily on sample size – something that the industry has created exclusively for thin bodies? We still don’t see an influx of large-sized models on the podium, and some students claim that the reason may be the lack of training on how to create models for full bodies. And for many students of fashion schools who are learning to model big bodies, this, unfortunately, is still not enough.
“Simply put, the only way to get a larger size experience is not to work with models provided by my school, [but instead] make models of my friends for my collection, and then have [my professors] show me what to do for my body and how certain things should be evaluated.” — says Iemi Ho Kyung, a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Teen Vogue asked for comments about the school’s initiatives regarding large sizes, to which Katrin Schnable, head of the Department of Fashion Design at SAIC, replied: “We invest in working and supporting different body types as part of our curriculum. We have a wide range of sizes in our clothing forms and we work with models of all sizes. At the beginning of the program, our students are encouraged to develop freedom of action regarding who inspires them, what they want to wear and for whom to design. Students can study the body of their choice as part of our design and construction curriculum, as well as electives.”
Template estimation is the process of turning a sample size into smaller or larger sizes. The evaluation is performed using a size specification sheet and does not create a new form. Instead, it increases or decreases the size of the original form of clothing. And, as many students have learned, simply increasing the size does not take into account how clothes should fit on large bodies. What is suitable for the second size will not fit and will not look the same for size 20.
“Because when you get bigger, the weight doesn’t really change the way you’re taught,” says Ho Kyung. “And even all people are rated from zero to 12, it’s such a terrible idea. We have to start from the middle and then move more and less in both directions.”
Large-size fashion has been in the lower echelons of the industry for many years, especially considering that designers constantly choose the “standard size”. Large-size design is considered a more complex and confusing design process, but many designers who have decided to explore its capabilities know that its problems are worth the opportunities.
“Of course, every body you design for has problems,” says Teen Vogue designer Christian Siriano, who is constantly making progress in design for all body types. “It could be the same for someone who is very tall. You know, it’s just a job challenge. I think it’s like an architect building a house for the first time. There are learning curves in a big house than in a small one. I think the best way to understand people is to know that it’s not more complicated, just the problems are different. Maybe he uses more fabric and decides where that fabric should lie. Maybe the bust is bigger than you are used to. Well, that’s fine. You just need to figure out how to make it fit for that person.”
Monica Palucci, a recent graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, says that her college has introduced new models of dresses of large sizes and additional courses on creating models of large sizes for students of technical design. And although she says that not all the professors at the school were incredibly open to studying large-size design, it was because of certain professors she had that they helped push her towards this knowledge. She thanks Professor Amy Sperber, who supported the design of large sizes and created various body types using CLO (a program for three-dimensional fashion design) and handmade to add to her mannequin when there were no mannequins suitable for her graduation clothes.