Ok. We need to talk about plus sizes

Ok. We need to talk about plus sizes

We get a few questions on socials about why we don’t provide plus sizes. There are actually a number of reasons, some practical, some commercial. It’s not easy to respond to issues like this on socials (particularly with character limits), so we will try to give it a go here and then link back to this. Sorry it can’t be a more personal response every time!

Dibo Bodi started out with size XS (4-6) and S (8-10). Why? Because Indi is in this size range and she was there to try our designs on, provide feedback, and refine the cuts and designs, particularly during COVID lockdowns. We knew this wasn’t sustainable but we could see that we were growing, and that growth would allow us to access other models to expand our size range.

As soon as we could, we expanded our range to M (10-12) and L (12-14) sizes. When we did this we found that we struggled because we had to get someone in every time we made a change or developed something new. Over time we gained more experience and we can now fairly reliably produce these sizes without the additional costs of hiring someone to try designs on.

All well and good right? But M and L are not plus sizes! We have not been able to source any larger models, let alone models in plus sizes - and we’ve had the call out for larger models for more than 6 months. We need our models to be local and we are a small team with a small budget (we only have one full-time employee), so we source amateur models from within our network. This is a major logistics issue, and our business is not at a point where we can simply put extra money into it because we don’t have the capital and can’t be sure of the return. 

What we did find is that we were starting to reach the edges of our core demographic. Every time we produced a set of popular designs, the smaller sizes would sell out immediately while the larger sizes would sit on the rack for 2-3 months. This is fine because we need stock in the shop even though we do 90%+ of our business online. And eventually, the larger sizes do sell. 

While we know we get some requests for sizes beyond L (and for bigger bust sizes), we don’t have the expertise to produce them. Our concern has always been around producing something that will work for the customer, and not getting into financial difficulty because of returns from dissatisfied customers. We already find that there is a lot of variation in the dimensions of a size L. Are you large through the chest and shoulders? Hips? Waist? Are you tall? This issue is more significant as you get into plus sizes as Jenna Lourenco, a professional costume designer explains:

“Clothing manufacturers use a basic pattern that is enlarged or shrunk without altering the original silhouette of the pattern pieces in any way” called slopers.  The basic slopers for most commercial women’s clothing are designed for a size 2, 4, or 6—but bodies of different sizes don’t have identical proportions. Once manufacturers get into the “plus” size range, these slopers aren’t as transferable. “In the plus-size range, you have to have slopers created by skilled and experienced pattern technicians.” These slopers have to go through extensive testing and adjustments before they can be used to create pattern pieces in each size, so having them created is a significant investment for a company.

So we don't produce these sizes…. yet. But we’re still small, and there is still time for us to develop our business to the point where we can. We really hope that it works out commercially when we take this step. You have to walk before you can run. We started with an XS corset belt made from upcycled fabric and we’ve come a long way in the last year so we’re confident we will get there. And please bear with us on the socials, we don’t have anyone in marketing or PR to spin up ritzy responses - most of the time we are cutting, sewing, or in class!

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