New York Fashion Week has long-been the origin of apparel trends in the United States, with top designers dictating the styles that trickle down through the entire American clothing market. Colors, cuts, patterns, and fabrics evolve through the seasons, yet just now a stark incongruity in Fashion Week is finally gaining recognition.
On September 6, 2013 Eden Miller presented her line Cabiria, as the first plus-sized runway show to ever be seen at Fashion Week. Cabiria was selected to be one of the six up-and-coming fashion lines featured by Fordham Law School’s Fashion Law Institute, a nonprofit that funded the show. The collection featured big and bold prints, with splashy florals and graphic patterns, designed specifically to be enhanced by the plus figure.
While defying the size 0-filled norm of Fashion Week, Miller wants her collection to be recognized for its own value. She hopes to become recognized as a “good clothing line” and not simply a “good plus-sized clothing line”. In many ways, Miller is fighting not only for recognition from the wide pool of aspiring fashion designers, but also for the legitimacy to be recognized as a true fashion line. In a recent interview, she said, “I want to get to the point where plus fashion is just as legitimate as any other fashion out there on the runway, and whatever somebody is showing, the collection itself is what speaks.”
The Cabiria runway show highlights an important discrepancy in American Women’s apparel. The average American woman wears a size 14, yet the average clothing line only reaches a size 12. There has long been a void of fashionable plus-sized clothing, despite the widespread customer base and high demand for it. Plus-sized clothing currently makes up only 14% of the apparel market, and some companies openly avoid producing larger sizes to protect their brand image. Miller foresees a shift in the market, “The money will follow the trends if the trends establish traction. And the trend is that people are not ashamed of being plus-sized.”
Miller is gaining that traction quickly. Cabiria became established through a KickStarter campaign, and launched in February 2013. She sees the change towards embracing fashion-forward plus lines as a movement that will take the effort of many designers and brands beyond her own. Cabiria represents a signal to the fashion world, and a sign of changes to come. In an industry starved of body acceptance, there are those who have had enough, and are willing to boldly and beautifully redefine what it means to be fashionable.
Images via Refinery29