In the UK, approximately 4.9 million women wear a size 18+, while our national average dress size is a 16. But in the mainstream media, “straight-size” models – the ones you see every day in fashion shoots and on catwalks – are a size 6-8, while our plus-size modelling industry starts at a size 12 and stops at a 16. Confusing, right?
When I started Slink magazine, the UK’s only glossy aimed at women size 14+, the plus-size fashion industry was much more niche, with far fewer supermodels of its own. Aside from the likes of Crystal Renn, plus-size models had failed to make an impact on the industry as a whole. Things are different now. Models such as Robyn Lawley, Denise Bidot and Candice Huffine are booking jobs everywhere from Tom Ford to Ralph Lauren, walking at New York fashion week and shooting international covers for Elle and Vogue Italia.
But as much as I love and respect the plus-size models we work with, I see the flaws in the industry, vocalised by consumers of plus-size clothing and our readers. While many plus-size lines go past a size 26, the models do not. With the majority of plus-size fashion transactions taking place online, visualising what that dress will look like on a body shape very different to that of the model wearing it on screen is a conundrum for both customers and brands.
Finding an agency in the UK specialising in women above a size 16 is near impossible, so when I met the fashion brand Elvi and they asked for my advice on finding models that better represented their consumer base, it became clear we would have to find our own.
The Elvi/Slink model competition is searching for four women, one in each size category: 20, 22, 24 and 26. The winners will model (and keep) outfits from the spring/summer 2015 collection, which they will also model online on the Elvi site and in SLiNK magazine. If you think this is for you, simply send your name, dress size and a photo of yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org (TCs apply; click here for more details).