So, we’ve seen these fantastic shots of Diesel using actual plus size women (along with the androgynous, etc.) as part of their new “outsider art” alignment.
There’s one very big problem:
Diesel doesn’t offer plus sizes.
Nor do they appear to plan to.
Diesel isn’t engaging with the plus size customer – it’s exploiting the plus size buzz.
It’s also engaging in false advertising by doing so. I realize it’s a German company but I’m pretty sure that at least the US is supposed to have some oversight about this sort of thing.
This isn’t a criticism of the fine people acting as their models. Visibility = normalization. There is still good to be gained there. The ethical and commercial failure is completely on the part of Diesel. So much so that I felt it necessary to call it out:
Plus size industry fellows, we are being conned.
This is nothing more than a ploy to build good will with the plus size industry without actually serving the customer base.
This also tells us three very interesting things:
1)This past summer (and before, since campaigns like this are planned months to a year in advance) has likely scared the overpriced pants off a number of high-end designers. Given that Lululemon, Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch are all on the plus size world’s poop list – i.e. a poop list compiled of roughly 30% of women and people who prefer women’s clothing in the western world – it stands to reason that other designers who have long viewed the plus size woman with contempt might now be a bit scared of her. Now that we’re learning how to quit it with hating other women for having bodies unlike our own, the people who started pitting us against one another are really, really scared. That doesn’t mean that they want to do the right thing, however. But boy they do want to fake it. It’s up there with when a man calls you a derogatory name and then brings you flowers. Flowers don’t do jack for bad behavior.
2)Attention has more value than currency. If these companies were truly interested in making money, they’d have quite the selection of plus sizes already. It’s essentially 17 billion dollars lying around. Modcloth has figured that out rather dramatically. They don’t want the money, even ones faltering in the stock market like A&F. They want the buzz. Blame it on the bad economy or on shifts in human consciousness but now attention is what we weight against the gold standard and plus size fashion has the highest worth.
3)Straight size women are also watching the plus size industry with interest. Their attention is here, on Tumblr – where the impact of fatshion is undeniable – and on anything that allows all of us to shrug off the relentless pressure of “look like this impossible to look like thing!” Plus size fashion is the big break away, the run away rebellion, the revolt that the fashion industry has feared since the 1970s. So they’re trying to do what the US has historically done to political 3rd parties that started to gain ground: they’re attempting to co-opt it. The problem is that, despite a lot of disinformation distributed by diet companies, they aren’t subverting an abstract series of beliefs. No one is fat because of their conscious personal beliefs just as no one is fat for the exact same reason as another person. We’re starting to figure it out now, close out all the noise and look past the bullshit.
That’s why the fashion industry is in Big Trouble. And that’s why they’re trying to distract us, pulling plus size models for clothes they will never sell to plus size women.
I want to reiterate that while this is a big Shame on You for Diesel, this is a Good for You for the models. You need to be visible, any way you can. Only by the normalization of different body types can we as a culture remember that we have never HAD a singular body type or singular body size. Never. There have been large and small people throughout history – yes, there were probably even a few fat hunter gatherers.
So it’s a mixed bag. Diesel needs to be held out and called accountable. The models need to keep doing their thing.
And we as consumers need to remain skeptical at these overtures until we see the goods and sometimes even the factories that produce them.