When I was visiting LA two summers ago, I decided it would be a great time to check out the wares of a big, glamorous city. Lots of fashionable people equals lots of fashionable used clothes right? That brought me to Jet Rag, a giant two-story vintage shop that had racks and racks of amazing items, categorized by type of clothing, and then colour. As I scoured the thousands of clothes within the store I realized… there was no way for me to find what could fit me easily. After spending two hours there, and after trying on five items (none of which fit), I left empty-handed.
Thrift stores are on trend right now, and with good cause: the clothes you can get second hand are inexpensive, eco-friendly, and unique. I think they’re great for a lot of reasons. However, I’m also a fat person who wears plus size clothes, and despite my need used, fashionable clothes that fit my body, thrift stores generally don’t’ work for me and other people of size.
Like my time in Jet Rag, and countless other independent stores, vintage and thrift shops don’t organize their stores by size. Sure, separating clothes into sections by garment is smart for any shop, but the colour organization is really unneeded. I already expect to have to choose from a small selection of items when I go shopping, but to make me look for those clothes throughout the entire store is just cruel. As I shop, I run into so many items I wish I could fit into, and I may even miss clothes in my size because it’s impossible to look through an entire store. Vintage and thrift stores need to do better: a cute colour gradient shouldn’t be more important than showcasing your plus size options. Just make a goddamn section for us!
Plus Size Vintage Clothes Curation
Then we come to the selection itself. Maybe the real reason more vintage and thrift stores don’t have plus size sections are because they don’t want or look to carry plus size clothes? I often hear from stores that they “don’t have plus size people selling or giving us their clothes.” Just like every area in the world that wants diversity, but doesn’t go searching for it: GO SEARCHING FOR IT. If you’re a curator of vintage threads, put out calls on your social media or make posters advertising you’re wanting to buy plus size fashionable pieces. Plus size and fat people have always been around, there’s no excuse.
“There’s no demand for plus size clothes.”
No. 67 per cent of the population in the USA is a size 14 or above, so plus sized. The demand is there, you just haven’t felt it because plus size people know you’re not offering clothes that fit them. My friend Jessie proved that when she hosted a plus size clothing pop up with retailers and vintage stores in Hamilton. It was extremely successful and shows that fat people want to be used, fashionable clothes too.
Thin people repurpose plus clothes for the “oversized” look.
Some of the problems with thrift store culture and fashion culture, in general, is that the oversized look is in style. While I don’t feel personally passionate about this point, I know other fat people who feel robbed of nice clothes that would normally fit, because thin people buy them up. There’s no way to stop this from happening, but maybe plus size sections would aid in giving a space to plus size clothes and the people who wear them.
How to Make Vintage & Thrift Stores Size-Inclusive
- Make a plus size section in your store or organize your store by size!
- Post calls for plus size clothes on social media.
- Connect with plus size influencers to model your wares and for consulting.
- Make sure your fitting rooms are a comfy size.
- Host a plus size clothing swap and/or plus size specific events!
Fellow fat babes! Push your fave local vintage and thrift stores to do better. The more you ask, the more persistent you are about it, the more uncomfortable the owners will be (ahem them noticing their privilege). Telling them that you are the demand will hopefully put the wheels in motion for them to acknowledge that plus size babes deserve a space in the used fashion industry.