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For years, the extended size segment has been overlooked by the fashion industry, with a lack of stylish and ethical options available. For those who wear sizes 14 and up, it can still be difficult to find sustainable, ethical and chic clothing.
As the conversation about inclusion and diversity progresses, fashion brands, including eco-friendly ones, are slowly acknowledging this overlooked segment. Several labels now offer inclusive sizing, have plus size collections, or design exclusively for curvy women.
For the piece, we looked at labels that include size or have extended size collections, with a commitment to ethical production, environmental protection and contributing to the community.
Ahead, our selection of the best sustainable plus size clothing brands.
When it comes to inclusive sizing, LA-based Mate the Label’s much-loved basics are available in extended sizes from 1X-3X, made from organic and natural materials (such as organic cotton and Tencel), dyed with azo- and formaldehyde-free dyes, and produced with a reduced carbon footprint. For special occasions, Christy Dawn’s Dreamy vintage-inspired cottagecore dresses are enduring classics and come in standard, petite, and 1X to 3X sizes.
What to look for in plus size sustainable clothing
The rules for buying plus size sustainable clothing are the same as for buying fashion conscious that is comfortable and makes you feel good.
Navigating the world of sustainable certifications can be confusing, but they prove that a brand does not engage in greenwashing and is committed to being environmentally friendly. Some of the frequently encountered labels are Certified B Corporation, Global Organic Textile Standard and Forest Stewardship Council. We like brands that are transparent about their processes.
Check the real measurements before buying online
When shopping online, due to the lack of a consistent sizing system, it’s hard to get the perfect fit. Check the actual measurements (rather than the size) as well as the return policy. This will save you time, resources, and buyer’s remorse. Due to scaling issues, customers are reported to return around 40% of their online purchases.
Explore independent labels
Independent brands have filled the lack of options in mainstream plus size fashion with sexy classics and timeless favourites. Although we couldn’t include all the brands we love, this list is a great place to start. Invest in high-quality clothing that will last you for seasons and is worth every penny.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why don’t more clothing brands offer plus sizes?
Although statistics indicate that Canada and the United States together have over 200 million women who wear US sizes 12 and larger, fashion has been slow to respond to this segment, despite the opportunities it presents. Unfortunately, many brands don’t see it as a viable option, even though the market is pegged at $21.4 billion.
Even when it comes to ethical fashion, despite the rapid strides made by labels to intentionally produce and support environmental stewardship, not enough has been done to address body diversity. Some of the reasons given by labels for not adding extended sizes to their collections include the lack of available resources and an increase in associated costs, which prevents them from catering to this segment with integrity.
Why are plus size clothes more expensive?
Unfortunately, it is true that brands charge more for plus size clothing. The extended size market has long been dominated by fast fashion retailers, and several labels have been called out for the lack of price parity between different sizes of the same outfit. Some brands claim that to develop extended waist levels, additional expense (such as fabric and labor) is required, so the price goes up. Other labels maintain price parity, employing alternative solutions to eliminate any cost discrepancies that may arise, putting their customers ahead of the trade.
Why trust Treehugger?
To compile this list of retailers, we researched the market to highlight brands that embrace all body shapes and sizes, and also make responsible economic, social and environmental choices.
Writer Neeti Mehra is a slow life coach and sustainability consultant who also has years of experience writing about luxury markets. Her favorite subjects include seed-to-skin fashion and circular initiatives.