Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks then you should know by now that UK high street retailer River Island has finally dipped it’s fashionable feet into the waters of plus size fashion.
River Island Plus launched on 9th March 2016 with an initial first drop of 45 pieces (more to come over the next few weeks). This range, unlike most other plus size ranges doesn’t segregate plus size shoppers from their ‘standard’ sized shoppers as all of the pieces created for the collection are simply an extension of what is already on offer in their core range.
You won’t find any garish butterfly and glitter embellished tunics or bubble hem tops but what you will find is a range of on trend, statement and basic wardrobe pieces all ready to either update or curate your wardrobe.
Now, I need to address something with this range which has been bothering me since I knew it was launching – the limited size range…
The collection is currently only available in UK sizes 18-24 and for larger plus sizers that does utterly suck. It seems the plus size fashion industry is starting to gain momentum with more retailers wanting to try and crack this lucrative niche in the market; however it still seems these retailers will only go so far until they can prove that their ‘risks’ are going to provide the returns.
After speaking to representatives of the River Island team one of the burning questions I had to ask them was ‘will there be scope to extend the sizes in this range?’ to which their answer was ‘absolutely, but in order for that to happen we have to make this work first and ensure that their is demand for it in order for us to be able to justify extending the range later on’. Whilst I completely understand how frustrating this is for anyone who would love to shop the range but are excluded due to the size limitations it poses, I also empathise with the retailer.
A few years ago when Scarlett & Jo first launched I absolutely loved what they were bringing to plus fashion, I never forget when I saw them land on the Evans website (I still daydream over the PU sleeved black tunic). However, once upon a time Scarlett & Jo’s size range only went as far as a UK 26 and at that time I wore around a UK 30/32 which meant I was understandably upset that their items weren’t going to fit me.
I watched as S&J grew more popular and whilst their pieces weren’t catered to my size I was happy to get behind them, always secretly hoping that one day their range would be available in my size. I would see blogger after blogger posting pictures of themselves wearing the range and I’d think ‘I wish I could too’. Though I was obviously disappointed I couldn’t shop with them I was happy that there was another retailer out turning their hand to dressing us curvaceous beauties.
In late 2013 I remember receiving an email from one of the Scarlett & Jo representatives telling me that Scarlett & Jo had been such a success that they were finally extending their size range to a UK size 32! I was over the moon! Thrilled that the range had been successful enough to justify extending and that I would finally be able to buy and wear it, this would never have happened if people hadn’t supported the brand and making it a success.
Now, whilst I completely understand people being upset and wanting to boycott retailers over the exclusion of larger sizes (cause let’s be fair, exclusion is
shitty) and I absolutely do not believe it’s OK that larger plus sizers are excluded I do feel that if we don’t get behind retailers who are wanting to try and better the plus size fashion landscape then how are they ever meant to thrive and gain enough esteem to justify broadening their ranges and offerings? Surely if they thrive (which is only ever going to be by consumers putting their money where their mouths are) then others (which we are slowly seeing) will follow suit? I never in my life believed I would see the day when River Island invited us plus sizers to shop with them, but it happened, so what’s to say more won’t over time?
I will definitely be spending more of my pennies on filling my wardrobe with RI Plus, helping it to become a success and also hoping that it gains the success it needs to make bigger and better things happen…
What are your thoughts?