Why is the fashion industry obsessed with the size 0?

Fashion industries have continuously been critiqued for exclusively presenting their clothing items on very slim models, but has anything really changed? If, like me, you religiously follow Fashion Week, then it is clear every model on the catwalk – as beautiful as they are – are incredibly slim. Luxury brands in particular do not offer clothing items for those with a different body type to supermodels. Flicking through the glossy passages of Vogue, every model that is presenting the newest fashion trends have a size 0 body. This leads to my question: why do luxury fashion brands exclusively cater to the body type that does not represent the average physique?

When fashion industries present a runway show and fashion magazines promote the current fashion trends, they try to create an image of perfection. The makeup is applied perfectly, the hair is shiny with not a single stray out of place, and the clothes are on the most ‘desirable’ body type. Regardless as to whether the average consumer actually has a size 0 body (spoiler, they do not), fashion industries are trying to create an ideal image so their clothes appear to be even more desirable. Instead of us looking at the clothing items and admiring how they look, we look at the physique of the supermodel and admire how they look. Fashion industries hope that we buy the clothing item with the belief that we will look and feel as good as the model looks. Luxury fashion brands blithely ignore the lack of consumer representation presented through the models because they are trying to sell a false image of perfection rather than the clothing items themselves. But this raises the question of if you need to depend on a slim model in order for your clothes to look good, are the clothes truly good? Doesn’t a skilled designer know how to dress and style every body type – not just the size 0? It really is a shame that as society evolves, body representation in high fashion has continued to remain the same for decades.  Every person deserves to have clothing that makes them feel like the best version of themselves, no matter what size that happens to be. I’m not critiquing those that are a size 0, I’m critiquing that luxury fashion believes only a size 0 is allowed to feel beautiful and confident in their clothing. Brands adopt the mindset that the clothes should fit the person, not the person fit their clothes. 

The luxury fashion industries are obviously classist with their high prices, but the catering to size 0 bodies has an element of classism too. In previous centuries, being a plus-sized body symbolised wealth, meaning it was the beauty ideal within their society. But nowadays, fast-food is set at such a low price and is often very salty, fatty, and sugary, meaning those who are able to afford healthier food and maintain a slim physique are often considered more financially comfortable. This ability to afford a wholesome diet in order to afford the size 0 designer fashion clothing perpetuates the classist, exclusive aura of high-fashion. 

Of course fast-fashion has many sustainable and ethical issues, yet they often cater to higher clothing sizes than designer clothing. ‘Shein’ sustains unethical practices for their cheap clothing, yet they cater up to a size 28 in UK women’s sizing. This is a common theme surrounding fast-fashion brands. Consumers are villainised for buying from fast-fashion brands, yet their sizing is more inclusive than the more ethical, expensive brands. Instead of attacking the consumer for buying clothes to fit their size, instead we should attack high-fashion for continuing to obsess for the size 0 only. 

Karl Lagerfeld once said “No one wants to see a curvy model” because high-fashion was meant to be an aspiration for an entire lifestyle, instead of pure lust for the clothes. But his problematic statement could not be more wrong. Consumers long for designers to actually design clothes for every body type. Fashion brands appear to be determined to appear more inclusive in every regard, apart from their sizing. Until designers can cater for every body type I would argue that they cannot truly design at all.

Featured image: by Christopher Campbell on unsplash with license. 

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