We recently reported that Spanish retailer Mango launched their plus size line called Violeta this week. There are reports that the launch has sparked uproar in Europe where many took to Twitter to voice their outrage at Mango starting their plus size line at a size 12. The consensus is that Mango is implying that anything above a size 10 is ‘big’ and that they are alienating plus size women by offering those women a separate line while stigmatizing those who are smaller.
While the new Violeta line has been praised by many in the European fashion community as well as the Spanish government, Spanish customers are calling for Mango to remove the line from its business. British shoppers used Twitter to vent their dislike of the line and accused Mango of encouraging eating disorders.
Let’s look at this for a moment here. In the U.S., Ashley Stewart starts at a size 12 and Evans starts at a 10 (which translates to a UK size 14). Retailer Simply Be states that it starts at size 10 but they offer size 8 in many items and they’re a UK-based company! A size 8 in the U.S. is a size 12 in the UK. So even with the size conversion, Simply Be is still offering a size 12 and they’re a plus size retailer.
Which brings us to ask the question… why all the outrage and criticism for Mango? If British shoppers have such an issue with Mango starting their Violeta line at a size 12, then why haven’t they made the same complaints to Simply Be?
And in the U.S., while we are publicly talking about size diversity in the modeling industry, eating disorders and inconsistent clothes sizing, we have not heard shoppers complaining about Ashley Stewart starting at a size 12.
Further to that, as we have discussed many times on this blog and in our magazine, retailers use models that are sizes 8, 10 and 12, to market plus size clothing in ads and on their websites. This practice is not unique to the U.S. and is one seen in other countries.
So, we are back to the same question that we asked in our latest issue at the start of this year… What is plus size?
“In view of the controversy surrounding the launch of Violeta by MANGO, the company would like to reiterate that Violeta by MANGO is a new brand within the group which was created to cover an existing demand in the market by offering a fashion collection in sizes that extend up to 24. What differentiates said brand is the attention to technical details, pattern to pattern and size to size, and the selection of garment materials and fabrics, which have been produced to be more comfortable, feminine and modern. The key characteristic of this line is the personalisation of the collection to a new target market, the result of painstaking work and effort on the silhouette and pattern of each size.”
On the other side of this argument, many plus size women would argue that they can’t just shop “anywhere” like their thinner counterparts. So when a non-plus size retailer launches a plus size line, it is something that is celebrated. Plus size women don’t feel excluded. They can shop for fashionable clothing and be stylish at their size. The argument here is that plus size women already feel alienated when a retailer doesn’t offer their size and NOT when a retailer launches a separate plus size clothing line.
In this latest PMM Sound Off, we want to know what you think. Do you have an issue with size 12 being considered plus size? Would you boycott a retailer if they started their plus sizes at a size 12? Do you think Mango is encouraging eating disorders and alienating plus size women by launching a clothing line geared towards them? Sound off below by leaving us a comment and letting us know what YOU think.