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What Do the High-Fashion and Jewelry Industries Have Against Plus-Size Bodies?

More than two thirds of American women wear plus sizes—and that’s not taking into account the men and non-binary folks who fit into that category. Even so, only about 2.3 percent of women’s apparel caters to those sizes; the number drops to .1 percent for luxury retail brands. When it comes to jewelry in plus sizes, the choices are relegated to fast-fashion clothing brands dabbling in the world of accessories. Excluding Automic Gold, fine jewelry in a full range of sizes doesn’t seem to exist.

So why are so many high-end retailers against being truly size inclusive? According to an op-ed in Business of Fashion, “Fashion, as a system, as a force, as commerce, as logic and as belief, is all about exclusion.” The article goes on to state that being truly inclusive and representative goes against the very nature of the industry. Designer Christian Siriano argues that size inclusivity is totally within reach—it’s just a matter of taking the time to do the work.

Elitism isn’t the only reason fashion and jewelry designers refuse to go into plus sizes. Angela Spindler, CEO of the parent company of plus-size brand Simply Be, says that the barriers could be “the expertise in fit, but also the economics when you consider that typically 60 percent of the cost of a garment is in the fabric.” And larger sizes require more material.

Similar challenges exist for developing plus-size jewelry. Alex Waldman, co-founder of size-inclusive fashion brand Universal Standard, suggests that it’s not just an issue of perfecting fit—it’s about achieving the right length. “Even if you can get [the piece] around your neck, it's not going to sit in the place it's meant to sit. Because you have a bigger bust or a bigger neck," Waldman said.

As far as the team at Automic Gold is concerned, those issues are irrelevant. We’re crafting our jewelry out of gold, yet the need for more material never factors into what sizes we make. And when it comes to scaling jewelry to plus-size bodies, we couldn’t disagree more. Length and proportion is up to you and your preferences—plus-size folks can rock minimalist jewelry just as well as anyone else can.

For us, the desire to be inclusive was all we needed to prioritize a wide range of sizes.

Whatever the excuse fashion and jewelry designers are telling themselves, one thing’s for certain—the majority of the country wears plus sizes and it’s time for the industry to follow suit.

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