19 Apr 2019

Lack of ethical plus-size fashion neglects 'a large market'

3:34 pm on 19 April 2019

A Wellington woman wants inclusive sizing incorporated into the annual Tearfund ethical fashion report.

Woman holding folded clothes in hands

Photo: 123rf

The report, now in its sixth year, seeks to expose harmful business practises as well as guide consumers on where to shop if they care about where their clothes come from.

It rates companies on their policies, transparency of their supply chain, treatment of workers and environmental impact.

Jess Ducey said she was excited to use the report before going shopping but was disappointed to find not many of the companies made clothing above a size 16.

"I've been thinking in the last few years about how to spend my money better and so I saw that report and I was like, that's super handy and I started looking at a few of the brands and realised, 'Oh, I can't shop there. . . Can't shop there.' "

Ms Ducey said there were about five brands that ranked a C grade or higher.

"Some of them are Icebreaker and Kathmandu, which is great - except that doesn't really get me dressed for the office or day to day life and there's a few others that primarily make T-shirts, which again, doesn't really help if you need to wear pants to work."

Last year Ms Ducey created her own version of the guide, to share with like-minded shoppers.

But, she said it would be great if it was included in the guide itself, as an ethical consideration.

"If you make organic cotton T-shirts, and all of your workers are making a living wage, that's really great. But if half the country is sized out of the market and another chunk are priced out of by what you're charging, then is that the most ethical direction you can take your company?

"I'd like to see us talking more about what it really means to be ethical, instead of just taking, 'Oh, this one gets an A, great, I'm happy to shop there.' But let's look at how we can continually improve the fashion industry and then make it more accessible to people."

She said it also made business sense for designers to expand their size offerings.

"We like wearing clothes. There's so much money to be made if you want to cater for fat women.

"There's a large market of people who would like to dress themselves in interesting clothes and in new fashions and ethical materials.

"It just seems like such an oversight to decide that, you know, the integrity of your brand not being seen on fat people is more important than making money."

Tearfund's education and advocacy manager Claire Hart said she would be open to working with Ms Ducey, however incorporating sizing would likely be out of the report's scope.

She said it was great the report was encouraging conversations about ethical fashion.

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