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Tim Gunn Calls Out Fashion Designers for Failing Plus-Size Women

Sept. 9, 2016

'There is no reason larger women can’t look just as fabulous as all other women'

Project Runway co-host and fashion advice-giver extraordinaire Tim Gunn wrote a powerful op-ed in the Washington Post calling out fashion designers for ignoring plus-size women.

“I love the American fashion industry, but it has a lot of problems, and one of them is the baffling way it has turned its back on plus-size women,” Gunn wrote. “It’s a puzzling conundrum.”

Gunn said the lack of flattering and fashionable clothing for plus-size women a “design failure and not a costumer issue.” He wrote, “There is no reason larger women can’t look just as fabulous as all other women.”

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Gunn referenced a number of statistics that he said points to a massive plus-size market that designers could tap into: research from Washington State University shows the average American woman wears between a size 16 and 18 and there are 100 million plus-size women in the U.S. But, Gunn noted, a Bloomberg analysis found “only 8.5 percent of dresses on Nordstrom.com in May were plus-size. At J.C. Penney’s website, it was 16 percent; Nike.com had a mere five items — total.”

Gunn criticized designers’ attitude toward plus-size women, referencing Karl Lagerfeld, the head designer of Chanel, who said in 2009, “No one wants to see curvy women” on the runway.

Gunn also addressed Project Runway‘s lack of progress. “Project Runway…has not been a leader on this issue,” he wrote. Last season, Ashley Nell Tipton won the show with the first-ever plus-size collection, but Gunn wrote “her victory reeked of tokenism.” He added: “Simply making a nod toward inclusiveness is not enough.”

Read the rest of his op-ed here.