Thanks to Project Runway, Tim Gunn kind of feels like the fashion industry’s favorite uncle: Incredibly kind, not afraid to be honest with you when you need it, a cheerleader in the workroom with his famous catchphrase, “Make it work.”
But even Gunn knows that it’s hard to “make it work” when there’s so little to work with–an issue that’s currently facing the plus size fashion community. He recently opened up to HuffPo about plus size customers and why they’re a huge blind spot for the industry.
Gunn, who mentors the designers on Project Runway, doesn’t understand why they have such a difficult time handling challenges with so-called “normal” sized clients. “I’ve had my own moments in front of designers when I’ve actually said, ‘You know, there’s a market here for expanding your work, and here it is,’” he says.
“And frankly, there are two markets: The women who are larger than the 12, and then there are women who are petite. And most designers that I talk to have absolutely no interest in addressing either of those populations, which I find repugnant.”
When we wrote about the issues plaguing the plus size fashion industry last month, designer Eden Miller complained that department stores often treat plus size customers as an afterthought. It’s slim pickings to begin with, and then it’s shoved out of the way–something Gunn takes issue with as well. “Go to Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue, I think it’s the eighth floor, and it’s just a department called ‘Woman,’” he says.
“It’s rather devastating,” Gunn continues. “You’ve never seen such hideous clothes in your entire life. I mean, it’s simply appalling. Thank God there are no windows on that floor, because if I were a size 18, I’d throw myself right out the window [after seeing those clothes]. It’s insulting what these designers do to these women.”
Yikes. And Gunn doesn’t stop at the clothes either. He also cites the rise of androgynous model Andrej Pejic as the perfect example of how wrong designers’ expectations are for models. “The designers love him because he doesn’t have any hips, and women aren’t going to look like that,” he explains.
We’re just glad someone as prominent as Gunn is adding his voice to the conversation about plus size fashion. Something in the industry will have to give soon–and the more people who support it, the better.