By Emma Dooney
Let’s face it—shopping for clothes when you’re plus-sized isn’t exactly easy.
Many high-street and designer retailers are shamefully behind when it comes to catering to larger people, often capping their collections at sizes 18 or 20 (and sometimes even lower).
If that wasn’t disheartening enough, the quantity of clothing available in higher sizes is typically much less than its petite counterparts, which means customers have fewer choices when it comes to finding those wardrobe essentials and feeling confident in their bodies.
Luckily, a new guide created by WeThrift could be a major game-changer for folks who’ve struggled to buy fitting—but still trendy—outfits in the past. The discount website has released its Inclusive Index, a ‘one-stop shop’ to help consumers save time on clothes shopping and make smarter purchases with their hard-earned cash. It has rounded up the most inclusive retailers on today's market—as well as the least—by recording how many plus-sized clothing articles they offer and how wide their size range is.
Coming in at the top of the league table is fast-fashion retailer Shein, with a whopping 88,850 articles of plus-sized clothing available on their website. The Chinese brand has achieved huge success in the Western marketplace over the past few years, with many people unable to resist its ultra-low prices and designer dupes.
Before you load up your virtual trolley cart though, it’s worth noting that Shein has been strongly criticized for its dubious ethical standards ever since it launched back in 2008. It's been lambasted by environmental organizations for its impact on the planet, with many accusing the company of destroying our earth with the overproduction of clothes, use of toxic chemicals, and of course, high carbon emissions.
Shein's transparency on the labor conditions of its workers is another cause for concern. The company has yet to disclose full details of its supply chain to the public, prompting labor rights watchdogs to question the treatment of its staff. Let's just say, Shein is a long way from making the list of our best sustainable clothing brands.
The second best brand on the Inclusive Index is SilkFred, a UK store that launched back in 2011. The company offers clothing in sizes ranging from 4 to 36 from over 800 independent brands, meaning there’s plenty of different styles to choose from. And don’t worry, it doesn’t skrimp when it comes to its curvier garments—you’ll have access to a staggering 15,000 articles of plus-sized clothing.
Next up on the list is Debenhams, with sizes going all the way up to 40. The longstanding British retailer offers 14,000 plus-sized items, so you're almost guaranteed to find what you're looking for. It's also been known to stock plenty of dupes for Kate Middleton's dresses, just in case you needed any more of an excuse to get shopping.
High street giants Next and Marks and Spencers have also earned a space on the Inclusive Index, with thousands of options available in sizes up to 32. If you're not in the mood to head into town though, don't worry—there's plenty of online plus-sized clothing outlets.
SimplyBe has a fantastic reputation for specializing in larger sizes, with over 4,000 garments in sizes 12—32. Littlewoods is another solid online store for plus-sized women, offering nearly 3,000 plus-sized pieces.
Unsurprisingly, the Inclusive Index didn't have much trouble finding fashion retailers that didn't provide options for bigger people. Pull&Bear and All Saints shamefully had no plus-sized garments at all, with their largest dress sizes coming in at 14—less than the UK average of 16. Bershka, Levis, French Connection, and North Face were also all called out for failing to cater to plus-sized folks.
Here's hoping they listen to the demand and expand their gorgeous collections sooner rather than later.
Emma is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. She covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health or lifestyle story. When she's not reporting on the British monarchy and A-list celebs, you can find her whipping up vegan treats and running the roads to cheesy '90s pop music...but not at the same time, obviously.
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