When a brand makes moves to become more body positive and accessible to women of all shapes and sizes, it’s a truly powerful thing. Earlier this week, it was announced that Madewell and J. Crew will sell plus-size jeans for their spring 2018 collections, which is incredible news seeing as standard size ranges often leave a large portion of the population out. While it's definitely progress worth celebrating (their new offerings are technically more inclusive than ever), some fans have pointed out that they still don't cater to a large portion of women.
As reported by Bloomberg, the average American woman wears between a size 16 to 18. Seeing as retailers typically run from sizes 0 to 12, with high-end retailers being even more restrictive and capping their offerings at a size 8 or 10, this means that the average American woman cannot shop at a large majority of stores. What’s more, many retailers that exclusively offer clothing for curvy women start at a size 16, which leaves women who wear a size 14 without many shopping options. As put by Racked, “The in-betweeners live in a world occupied by many but represented by few, especially when it comes to fashion advertising and media depiction.”
This is why it’s so important that major retailers like Madewell and J. Crew expand their size ranges. On a business level, it just makes sense, as it expands their customer bases and therefore increases their sales. Way more importantly, it shatters antiquated ideas of what a woman “should” look like body-wise and helps promote body positivity. Because healthy women can be a size 16, and all body types are beautiful and equally worthy of wearing the same jeans as a size 0.
Which brings us back to the new denim lines by Madewell and J. Crew. The latter brand announced it would be expanding its size range last week and this week, its sister brand followed suit. On their website, Madewell announced the move along with a few other features of their spring 2018 collection by writing an enthusiastic work order.
“Extended sizes? We’re on it. White denim that isn’t see-through? We’re on it. Updated hem details, more Magic Pockets and conversation-starting fits? Yep, we’re on those too. Still obsessed with designing perfect pairs of dream jeans? Pretty much.”
Shoppers have come out to applaud and thank the brands for expanding their size ranges and casting curvy models in their ads, taking to Twitter to express their excitement:
Prior to the size expansion, Madewell and J. Crew jeans were only offered up to size 32, which Madewell's size chart translates to a standard size 14. (At Madewell, your jeans size is based on your waist measurement.) Now, both brands will offer sizes up to 35 (which they claim is a standard size 20) in more than five styles, ranging from “skinny” to “toothpick.” If you're scratching your head and thinking, "but wait, size 20 pants have a way bigger waist then 35 inches," you're not alone. As Revelist points out, " A TRUE US size 20 has a waist measurement between 42 and 44 inches. There's nothing even approaching that on [Madewell's] chart." Understandably, people are upset about it, and are calling out Madewell and J. Crew for not being as inclusive as they claim.
Madewell also announced that they will be launching a Curvy High-Rise Skinny Jean, which will be available in three washes (Ontario, Lucille, and Black Sea). As The Cut Reports, a press release from the brand says that the style “fits the same” as their existing hi-rise skinny, but provides a little more room in the high hip, low hip, and top of the thigh. The rise is also slightly higher and the waistband is cut on a slight curve in order to mimic the natural shape of a waist.
Despite the controversy surrounding the sizes, many fans are clearly still stoked about the offerings, seeing as size 35 is currently out of stock in various styles on both Madewell and J. Crew's websites.
I think this is just the beginning of a retail revolution that will result an a more universally inclusive shopping experience. And hopefully, Madewell and J. Crew will listen to their fans and make an effort to more accurately label their sizes.