In a bold move, I have opted to remove all sizes from the labels in my garments, and am replacing the sizes with shapes.
After seven years on the shop floor at Hayley Joy, I feel it’s time for me to lead the way in eliminating body shaming, with dignity. I’ve spent many hours in one-on-one consultations and it always comes down to the same thing – low self-esteem – which isn’t helped by having to buy clothing with a 5XL, 6XL and 7XL label in it. Removing sizes from my garment labels, seemed the most obvious thing to do, after the umpteenth call from a client asking us to cut out the labels from their clothing, because their husband, son, son-in-law or boss were coming to collect on their behalf, and “they absolutely couldn’t have them see what size she is buying.” The final affirmation for me was when a client sent me a picture of a Hayley Joy garment belonging to her mom, that had the corner of the label cut out, where the size normally is.
I’m never one to play it safe, so I decided to go where no other clothing designer and manufacturer has really gone before. I allocated colours to the various sizes, and it felt so good to say you’re a yellow, or a pink, or a green. And then at 3am one morning, which is when my brain tends to decide to have its real moments, I woke with absolute clarity…I needed to have coloured labels with shapes. This would mean that instead of clients referring to their size as a 2XL, they become a pink heart (which is the new label for a 2XL HJ garment). As a shapely women, it made perfect sense to me, and I knew would make perfect sense to my clients, and in turn, would eliminate the stress of a number in a label. Many clothing brands are dropping the plus-size from the description of their ranges, and are seeing a marked increase in profits, but nobody has gone as far as removing sizes completely. Practically I think it’s difficult to remove sizes if you are a store carrying multiple brands. For Hayley Joy it makes perfect sense, because we manufacture all our collections in our own production facility, exclusively for our retail store. It’s easier for us to educate our present and future clients on how to buy the ranges. It also allows for us to demonstrate our respect for the issues around sizing. I’ve spent months on the internet reading comments on anything Plus-size related, and the recurring gripe is this, ‘Why do we have to be labelled, why can’t we just be part of the consumer chain?’
I have given it much thought, and am in agreement. It’s time to start offering fashion in all sizes, with no stigma. HJ is known as a Plus-size brand, but the reality is that we cater for all sizes. I have many clients who buy HJ small, because they like the styles and the look and feel. They are really not fazed by what size we go up to. In fact, they are often in awe, that there is a brand who is taking a small pattern, and sizing it all the way up to a 7XL.
As a small independent boutique, attempting to do something this radical, within the clothing space, is risky. But for me, I believe that the time is right, for somebody to make a move in this very maligned area of fashion.
Plus-size clothing has a stigma, there is no denying it. I’m hoping that by making this change and removing sizes completely, HJ can create a precedent going forward, and at the same time, demonstrate to women out there, that somebody has taken heed of all the feedback, and come up with a fun, quirky way to limit the stigma and remove the trauma of shopping by size. I think we’ve been so fixated on size for so long, that we’ve forgotten that we have a shape too, and it’s our shape that defines the clothing we wish to wear.
I hope that this will revolutionise the way women are marketed to in fashion, globally. It’s time for women of all shapes and sizes to be honoured. I want this to become a global undertaking. We the designers, who are claiming to know a thing or two about Plus-size fashion, need to start realising that our clients needs are not that complicated, they just want respectfully designed, well fitting, fashion forward clothing, without stigma around their size.
I want to be that designer who changed the way women of all sizes are marketed to. In my own I hope that this will revolutionise the way women are marketed to in fashion, globally. It’s time for women of all shapes and sizes to be honoured. I want this to become a global undertaking. We the designers, who are claiming to know a thing or two about Plus-size fashion, need to start realising that our clients needs are not that complicated, they just want respectfully designed, well fitting, fashion forward clothing, without stigma around their size.mall way, I believe the first step is to take the trauma out of sizing…and the first step for HJ, toward this, is by making fashion about a Shape, not a Size.
Welcome to my Shape revolution.