Plus Size Fashion Coming Up Small: Renee Cafaro Gives Her Take
While people may cite the success of models Ashley Graham and Candice Huffine as a sign that the fashion industry is changing, there is still much work to be done to make plus size fashion part of the mainstream. 67% of women are considered plus size, yet for years the fashion industry has neglected to portray and cater to their needs.
Renee Cafaro, US Editor for plus size fashion magazine, SLiNK, knows this all too well. While recognizing the positive impact these two women are having on the industry, Renee points out that there is still stigma around being a plus size woman. Being a bad-ass, take no prisoners gal, Renee is dedicated to changing the narrative and has no problem sharing her opinion on how plus size women are treated within mainstream fashion.
We Want To Look Glossy Like Vogue
Being an editor of a plus size fashion magazine, Renee is used to the element of “surprise.” That surprise typically comes from people not used to seeing plus size women in sexy garments. But why should it be a surprise that plus size women want to feel sexy and express themselves like everyone else?
“Look at any magazine at all, and open it up and find me a Victoria’s Secret ad….it’s the idea that plus size women don’t have a sex life, they don’t want to be sexy and they don’t want to be fashionable. And that’s just outright ridiculous.”
Women of all shapes and sizes deserve to feel beautiful and sexy. One can only hope the world evolves to a point where it’s not a shock to see a size 18 in a bikini, celebrating body positivity is the norm, and plus size fashion is considered part of the mainstream.
Newsflash to fashion, by marginalizing plus size women from the ‘mainstream’ you are losing out on selling to a major swath of the population. Technically speaking plus-size is mainstream given that the majority of women are plus size.
“We’re not trying to shock anybody. We’re trying to show you a reality that 67% of women are considered plus-size.”
– Renee Cafaro
“I Got Some Special Issues About That Special Issue”
Speaking of glossy magazines, Renee was pleased when she found out that Glamour was publishing an issue with plus size icon, Ashley Graham on the cover. She even grabbed a copy for SLiNK’s U.K. based Editor In Chief. Sadly, the saying “the devil’s in the details” was all too relevant in this issue. Renee noticed ALL the details or lack thereof in this “special” edition of the magazine. In addition to the fact that it was touted as a separate issue from the main issue, aspects like paper quality and creative direction were lacking.
Renee expressed that she is constantly torn between appreciating forward-thinking efforts and not settling. She believes that although it’s cool that plus-size is finally being recognized within fashion circles, it deserves the same level of attention to quality and details.
“It was much thinner. It didn’t have all the same advertisers, it didn’t have the little fragrance pull outs…it felt a little bit like a catalog.”
– Renee Cafaro
For decades the fashion industry argument for not producing plus size clothing has been that it doesn’t sell. However, the issue with this comes from the delusion that plus size women don’t care about the quality of their clothes. Mainstream plus size clothing is often not stylish and of poor quality, which is one of many reasons why sales are low. They also do not produce enough of it, giving plus size women few options to choose from. In this way the logic behind their argument is majorly flawed as if they put the same design, quality, and production standards into their plus size clothing as they did their other clothing it would be more profitable. It’s a simple catch-22 where lack of sales is the excuse for lack of production, yet lack of production is the reason for lack of sales.
For Renee, using that as an excuse is frustrating because there’s obviously a market, yet designers are less likely to take a risk on a large percentage of the female population. So what’s really the deal?
“It’s kind of hard to use that metric where there isn’t any product or when your product is terrible.”
– Renee Cafaro
For more on Renee’s mission to make plus size fashion more visible, check out our interview with her on our podcast, Mind of a Mentor!
You can also listen to our Mind of a Mentor podcast on your favorite app by clicking the icon below.