The fashion industry is notorious for its exclusivity. Although some designers have made strides in recent years to connect with plus-size women as well as the typical sample-size crowd, the subset of larger women is often overlooked.
The award-winning designer and owner of his eponymous label, Prabal Gurung, just penned an emotional plea on Lenny to other designers to make a change. In the letter, Gurung discusses how the fashion industry has fortunately made efforts to become more racially diverse and gender inclusive, but it has failed to adapt to the plus-size community.
By ignoring this group of consumers, designers not only create negative stereotypes, but they also miss out on this $20.4 billion market.
“As someone who was always seen as ‘different,’ I am well acquainted with the feeling that my needs were not mainstream enough to be met by society,” Gurung wrote. “I know what it feels like to be slighted, and I’m embarrassed that we as an industry have overlooked hundreds of millions of women.”
Gurung immigrated to the United States from Nepal 16 years ago. He found that America gave him the opportunity to exercise his true passion as a designer, create clothing to empower women and advocate for causes he cares about through his work. With his hard-earned success, the designer is determined to use his power to address this category of women who have been slighted. “This is supposed to be a country of acceptance, a country that is proud of being a melting pot of cultures,” he said. “If I, a boy from Nepal with no industry or family connections, was welcomed into this country and accepted for my unique point of view, then shouldn’t we provide the same courtesy to others as well?”
The designer is staying true to his words and working to make a change. Gurung announced in July that his brand is partnering with plus-size designer Lane Bryant for an exclusive collection to launch in March 2017. This will be Lane Bryant’s fifth designer collaboration, having already launched collections with Christian Siriano, Lela Rose, Sophie Theallet and Isabel Toledo.
“Prabal is a master at mixing materials, fabrics and textures — he pulls it off in such a way that each piece becomes its own artistic statement,” said Linda Heasley, CEO of Lane Bryant, in a statement. “His ingenuity at mixing sporty ease with unabashed glamour has made his label a huge success. We are delighted to welcome him to Lane Bryant and offer his innovative fashions, spirit, and unique styles to the Lane Bryant customer.”
This collection is likely to be easily accessible to all, as Gurung is committed to making plus-size clothing more widely available. “Since the beginning, we have made our clothes available from a size 0 to a size 22; however, it is only the zeros through eights that get picked up by the retailers and hang beneath the chandeliers and above the marble floors on Fifth Avenue,” he wrote.
Prabal Gurung Sport, a fitness label offering a variety of sizes ranging from extra small to a double extra large, is another initiative Gurung is launching. Hopefully, other designers will take note from Gurung and take a step toward making fashionable clothing for all.