Plus-size women are worthy of designer fashion

Duff's designs celebrate the female form. (They are shown here on her friends, who serve as the brand's models.)
LOST AND LED ASTRAY

Duff's designs celebrate the female form. (They are shown here on her friends, who serve as the brand's models.)

Sarah-Jane Duff has worked as a plus-size fashion buyer for New Zealand stores (including Farmers) and now runs her own fashion plus-size label, Lost and Led Astray.

OPINION: I don't have a problem using fat as a descriptor for my body type. But I do have a problem being told it's negative.

I am a big woman, I identify as body positive. I believe in no judgment. I know that I am attractive to other people but most importantly, I love who I am.

I am the sum of all my parts, my body, mind and experience and I'm grateful for all of it.

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I have worked in the plus-size industry for over nine years now, as a fashion buyer as well as a designer, and in this time I have created my own community. A FAT one.

My community now extends to a fat yoga class I've founded with the extremely giving and wonderful Kristina from The Kindness Institute. This space we have created is a safe place women can come together, with no judgement and give themselves some time to relax, stretch and move their body.

Some of the plus-size designs available at Farmers.
FARMERS

Some of the plus-size designs available at Farmers.

These classes are catered to my body and bodies like mine. My tummy always gets in the way.

I'm always interested in the relationship clothing has to self-esteem. And believe that through the creation of well-designed and cut clothing we can not only make a woman look good but feel good about herself.

This is the main motivation for my label, Lost and Led Astray. My niche within the fashion industry is a special one. It is not just about the clothes; it is equally about the group of women who wear them. I love my ladies. And they are worthy of designer fashion.

Plus-size model model Ashley Graham has broken down barriers in the modeling world, appearing on the covers of Sports ...
GETTY IMAGES

Plus-size model model Ashley Graham has broken down barriers in the modeling world, appearing on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Vogue.

My size range runs from 10 to 24. I design clothing for shapes. I don't look at averages and certain-proportioned fit models.

We all hold our shape differently, and one size does not fit all. I design for who they are - I create patterns to allow them to move and live life.

I don't look at them one-dimensionally and draw a line in the sand if I think they aren't fitting an ideal weight and shape ratio. I believe in women and I think we need to consider ourselves holistically.

To say that our size says everything about us misses the point.

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This is so much more than a fat issue. It is about diversity and in this country we celebrate that.

Social norms are challenged in the plus size industry, and I am proud to be part of it. Big girls should never be swamped in a tent-like clothing and fat shamed. Let them celebrate their curves and strut their stuff as the sexy, confident women they are.

It is exciting to think that New Zealand's dynamic fashion industry is recognising this and I hope this generates conversations and change to a willing market sector.

 - Stuff

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