We Are Knitters just launched a plus size division and all I can say is…pulls out a megaphone and stands on a chair…IT’S ABOUT TIME! There’s probably a better way for me to say this, but I’ve never been one to sugar coat things so why start now? The email making this announcement read “You asked, we listened”. That statement says it all. I was recently talking to newbie knitter Jennifer about a pattern that she was considering. I mentioned that even though it wasn’t in her size I thought that it would \”probably\” fit her. She turned to me and suddenly said “I don’t want to buy something that just works for me. I want to buy something that was made for me”. I couldn’t have said it better myself. This new line currently consists of six of their most popular styles. The prices range from $110 for The Arts Sweater to $169 for The Nolita Sweater. It’s currently made up of four sweaters and two cardigans. This collection is for sizes XXL and XXXL. It will be interesting to see if this expands as the line becomes more popular.
Before we get too far into talking about the collection let’s talk about why this is so important and what’s been holding up the shift to more size inclusivity. I’ve been lucky enough to have been a wide range of sizes throughout my life. For the majority of my pre-teen and teenage years, I was a size 00 and that’s being generous. I was always really embarrassed when I would go shopping with my friends because things always looked extremely baggy on me. I could have shopped in the children’s department, but while I wanted to wear things that fit me I also wanted to dress my age. As a result, I was left in this weird middle ground. Looking back it’s probably what lead me to start making my own clothes.
After I stopped dancing I gained weight and by the end of high school I was about a size 12. I had gone from working out every day, for at least three hours a day, and eating whatever I wanted too still eating whatever I wanted, but no longer working out. Suddenly none of my clothes fit and I felt really awkward in my new larger body. Since then my weight has yo-yoed. In college, my weight dropped significantly, to the point where teachers asked my friends if I had an eating disorder. Up and down, up and down. No matter what weight I was I always found something to complain about when it came to my body. I wished for bigger breasts and then when I got them I had no idea how to dress them and resented my bras. I wanted to lose weight but then when I did I felt self-conscious of the attention my new body was getting.
Having lived in multiple body types I feel like I can say this next statement with some authority… pulls out megaphone again… life is too short to spend it criticizing your body. I’m now at a new in-between weight. I’m somewhere between getting a size XL and plus size. My body has put up with years of ballet, caffeine soaked all-nighters in college, all-nighters in the fashion industry, and hours upon hours of crochet and knitting work. With each new challenge, it sticks with me and has only given out once or twice. But to be fair I don’t give it nearly as many breaks as it deserves. Who am I to criticize something that has done so much for me? So now I wear what makes me happy and what works with my body on that day.
This self-love journey IS NOT easy! It’s certainly not made any easier by the standard of beauty that is promoted in the fashion industry. Or by the fact that moving out of a smaller size range means that wearing certain styles is not even an option for you because they aren’t available. But in defense of the fashion industry, there are a few reasons as to why brands have made these damaging decisions. First of all, it is much cheaper to produce a collection in a model sample size (typically US2-US4) than it is to produce it in plus size. This isn’t something that I really thought about until I got into the industry. Not only is it less fabric it also takes less thread, fewer notions, and time to produce a size 4 garment than it does to make a size 14. Secondly, when designers originally started putting on fashion shows it was purely to show the garments. The models were supposed to be stand-ins for hangers and not get noticed at all. This has changed over the years and so must the model wearing the clothes on the runway. Brands now want the consumer to be able to identify with the model. Their lifestyle is what the brand is selling and shows have become less and less about the clothing itself.
The DIY industry is a completely different beast. Fashion brands have to worry about the cost of their goods getting too high but fiber companies should be embracing this fact. Ignoring the obvious fact, that making +size patterns and kits is the right thing to do and is desperately wanted by the community, making plus-sized kits is just good for business. For example, The Simone Cardigan from WAK, which is one of the styles that has been picked up for the new +kits, costs $155 and takes 7 skeins of wool vs the $139 and 6 skeins of the smaller sizes. That means brands are leaving profits on the table by not offering these sizes.
(Note on the Simone Cardigan: I will say that I like the tighter cuff of the smaller size better than the wide cuffs that seem to be on almost all of these plus styles. The +kit doesn’t seem to have a decrease around the cuff, but that’s just my personal preference and that’s easily changed by adding a row of Ktog, Ptog around the last row of knitting before you begin your ribbing.)
But I digress. Making +kits means selling more yarn and expanding your customer base. So why aren’t more companies doing this? It will be interesting to see how this line expands over time. I would like to see them creating +kits that are exclusive styles for curvy body types. I’ve been a lot of shapes over the years and I can tell you that the styles that worked on me at one size wouldn’t have worked on me at another. Creating +kits isn’t just about trying to get one size to look like another. It’s about emphasizing what makes each body type beautiful. Maybe we could even see a petite line of kits, a maternity line, or a tall line in the future. With all of that said, this is a really exciting first step in the right direction. There’s a lot of potential for growth in all of these divisions and there are a lot of customers who are eagerly waiting to be heard. All you have to do, Brands, is give them a chance.
You can shop the new collection of “Curvy Knits” here.