Justice

SmartGlamour Wants to Educate Women About Clothing Sizes

August 7th 2015

By:
Laura Donovan

Many body positive campaigns are gaining traction right now -- from #ThighReading to American Eagle's #AerieReal campaign, which features non-airbrushed images of models.

Mallorie Carrington, the owner of body positive clothing line SmartGlamour, which sells all sizes, has started her own brilliant body positive campaign called #SameSizeDifferentEyes, which tackles an overlooked issue in the fashion industry. The movement highlights the fact that women can wear the same size clothing yet still look drastically different, and it's been well-received by many on the Internet.

#SameSizeDifferentEyes

#SameSizeDifferentEyes

Here's what Carrington had to say to us about her body positive campaign and clothing company.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

First off, what inspired the #SameSizeDifferentEyes campaign, and what are you hoping to achieve with it?

The main concept of the imagery - two women who wear the same size but look totally different - came from a misconception about what sizes actually represent. When we released our #AllBodiesAreGoodBodies campaign - I shared a photo of four of the ladies on my Instagram, noting their sizes - one of which was a 4X. A follower of mine commented that she didn't believe the model was a 4X because she wears that too - and [they] look nothing alike. I don't fault this person for that disbelief - there is simply just no widespread education about sizing and how clothes are made. One of the biggest aspects of my brand is education - which hopefully, through that, women will take more control of their clothing, feel empowered in their bodies, and demand for better, quality, well-made pieces that fit properly. We live in a culture of fast fashion - where we buy things that are poorly made, in sweatshops, that don't fit great - but they're cheap and trendy, so why not? We can easily throw them away and buy something new. That concept is detrimental in many ways.

#AllBodiesAreGoodBodies

I also wanted to show that there should not be an emotional attachment to size - because each size belongs to many different body types - none of which are better or worse than the next. Hopefully, when women see that even a small, which is typically held in such high regard, can look different from woman to woman - we will learn that there is no hierarchy of bodies.

#AllBodiesAreGoodBodies

What are some common complaints you've heard from customers and consumers regarding clothing sizes at other stores?

The number one complaint is that size charts are always different from brand to brand - which is why I decided to truly explain how size charts, and clothing, are made in large design houses. Having worked in corporate design, I am fully aware of the set sizes each brand decides to work from and the fit models they bring in to create their "fit" off of. As I explained in detail in the original piece, "Companies that cater to the “Missy” demographic, i.e. middle aged women – have a middle aged woman as their fit model. Juniors brands use a young model. But no matter which fit model they use for which customer – there is only one. She’s usually a “medium”, on their size range, and she has a very specific body type. Technical designers then grade up and down (making the patterns larger and smaller) based off that one model’s specific proportions. Therefore – it is literally impossible for every brand to have the same, or even similar fits – there are way too many factors going into it."

#SameSizeDifferentEyes

Why do you think so many clothing manufacturers ignore or under-serve the plus-size community?

I get asked this question a lot! And I always say the same thing - I have no idea. I once sat in a talk with an editor of a large magazine. The editor mentioned having asked that question straight to the designers themselves, and they had no blatant answer either. It was never a question for me - to make clothing for everyone - and honestly that part of my line is not the activist part. I would have done that regardless. All women - no matter their size - deserve access to the same fashion and I have always felt that way. And with the average American woman being a size 14, and over 65 percent of women being larger than that size - I honestly don't know what the reason could be. Some try to cite pricing - but I feel that's a weak excuse. I price my clothing off of XL/1X, which is the median size and also the most commonly ordered sizes. They also try to cite difficulty - but there is no magic to making plus size clothing. If you can't turn an XL to a 1X and a 1X to a 2X, then you aren't doing your job.

#SameSizeDifferentEyes

Plus-size model Tess Holliday recently criticized the fashion industry for size inconsistency in clothing. In other words, I might be an extra small in a dress for one brand and a medium for another. What kind of impact do you think such inconsistency can have on the shopping experience (as an example, I always take at least two dresses into the dressing room because I never know which one is going to fit)?

I think it definitely makes shopping more tedious and confusing for some women - but as I mentioned earlier - with mass manufacturing, it is pretty inevitable. This is why I stress so heavily that women become familiar with their shape, proportions, and measurements. If you know your bust, waist, and hip - you can check a size chart and see where you fall. You should also take into account the fabrication, its stretch, and the silhouette of the piece. We have to change the way we think about shopping and clothing and start demanding what we want and also learning how to get it for ourselves. When I had my three-month pop-up store in the East Village from March to May, that was one of my biggest goals. I wanted it to feel welcoming, educational, fun, and empowering. Those are not four words most women would attribute to shopping.

TopShop recently decided to stop using a mannequin after a consumer complained that it sent a bad message about body image, and American Eagle's lingerie line, Aerie, experienced a sales increase after it stopped photoshopping models. Do you think the fashion industry is getting better for all body types?

Mannequin at popular UK clothing store TopShop

I have such passionate thoughts about this topic! Yes, in general, I do. I am, however, very wary of large corporations who flaunt "body positivity" in order to boost sales when they do not manufacture clothing for everyone. If you stop at a Large (which is my size, for the record) then in my opinion, you are not body positive. I think a lot of companies are jumping on the trend to make a buck instead of really embracing what it truly means -- making clothing accessible for all women. However, yes, in general, I think we are headed in a great direction and I hope that more funding and attention is brought to companies who are already doing it right! ::hint hint:: Which is why I am very grateful to talk about my brand!

#SameSizeDifferentEyes

Why do you think so many women are conditioned to be obsessed with size?

I think women live in a society where we are being inundated with imagery of what we "should" look like, and 99 percent of the time those standards are completely unrealistic. I also think that we are constantly being told that we do not deserve to occupy the space we take up. The ideal for a woman is to be small, and I do not think that is an accident. But we deserve to take up any and all of the space that our bodies fill. Because of these ideals, women attribute their worth to their size, which they clearly shouldn't. Giving the additional background information on how sizes are created is an attempt to shake up that stigma.

#SameSizeDifferentEyes