The designer-level racks at select Saks Fifth Avenue stores are expanding. Beginning this fall, the options for women looking for sizes 16 and 18 will include more high-fashion styles. • "Saks Fifth Avenue always strives to meet the needs of our customers. After recent review, we concluded there are customers who desire designer clothing in sizes that are not currently available in our stores," the company said in a statement.
Saks has for years had its Salon Z department, which caters to plus sizes, but this new initiative targets ripped-from-the-runway looks from the likes of Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, and will include larger sizes within designer departments.
Adding larger sizes, especially for designers who sometimes don't sell anything larger than a 10 or 12 in their own boutiques, is a considerable commitment, said Sasha Iglehart, deputy fashion director at Glamour. "It's a real investment for these brands to make sizes in that range. It's not just taking a pattern and making it bigger," she said. "The proportions are different, and there has to be real thought into what's flattering to women in that size range."
"I hope this inspires other retailers and designers," Iglehart added.
The conversation in the fashion industry about larger sizes has gotten louder in recent months. It had been rooted in the notion that models were too thin and setting a bad example for young women.
Magazines, including Glamour, are now routinely including a variety of body types in their pages, but Iglehart said securing trend-right outfits for anyone bigger than a size 8 — even when dealing with celebrities — can be a challenge. "We want to help women look great, and to have more sources to do that is fantastic."
During the last round of major Fashion Weeks back in February, there was a noticeable effort to cast some curvier models on the catwalk, and for its resort show in June, Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld put size 12 model Crystal Renn in a starring role. Red-carpet favorite Marchesa, meanwhile, created a custom plus-size Oscar gown for Gabourey Sidibe.
"She looked stunning and carried the dress beautifully," said Marchesa co-founder and designer Georgina Chapman. "It's always an honor to work with talented individuals like her who love fashion and have such amazing personal style."
Iglehart said that many women, regardless of size, want the opportunity to participate in fashion.
"I hope the fashion industry is changing its attitude," she said. "If we have the designers finally on board, I'm sure there'll be no shortage of customers for great clothes."