Is Lena Dunham’s plus-size clothing line really that inclusive?

The creator is launching her own plus-size fashion collection with an aim to fight the idea that bigger women are ‘stupid,’ but has been criticised for offering limited sizing options.

Excuse the cliché, but times have changed. Conversations within the fashion industry about size, representation, and the importance of inclusion are more prominent now than ever.

These days, it’s all about loving the skin we’re in, no matter what we look like, and embracing the fact that mainstream attitudes to beauty have drastically transformed.

This is something that progressive female-focused brands like Savage X Fenty have wholeheartedly taken on board, making it their priority to be as inclusive as possible. As a result, the plus-size fashion industry has seen a huge surge in popularity and Lena Dunham wants in on the action.

Back with a new project, the actor-writer-director-controversy creator announced on Monday the launch of her own plus-size fashion range in collaboration with 11 Honoré, an online retailer that’s been praised time and time again for championing high fashion for plus-size women by getting designers to make their brands accessible beyond size ten.

Lena Dunham X 11 Honore Plus Size Collection [PHOTOS] – WWD

‘As a woman who has been a size four on the red carpet as well as a 14, Lena has a unique point of view that I know will resonate with our customers,’ said founder Patrick Herning. ‘It has always been our goal to create an inclusive retail platform for this customer, giving her the same exact options as straight size women. I’m proud of the role that we have played in disrupting the industry.’

Dunham has reportedly spent ‘weeks’ working out the specifics of ‘fit’ because one of the things most designers don’t understand – in her opinion – is that making clothes for bigger bodies doesn’t mean just adding more fabric or cutting the waist wider.

Her aim, as she explained to the New York Times, is to fight the idea that bigger women are ‘stupid’ and remove a ‘huge barrier entry’ into the fashion world. Above all else, Dunham is seeking to spread the message that being curvy is something to celebrate rather than simply handle.

‘It’s not a problem to fix or cover up, but rather a really beautiful celebration of having a lot to give,’ she said. ‘It took me a long time, but I love the fact that my body tells a story of vastness, of ample-ness, of presence. And it’s mine and I’m not going to spend a lifetime apologising for it – I’m going to celebrate it in clothing that says: “here I am”.’

However, though this is all well and good in terms of pushing to remove the unnecessary judgement that still prevails around bigger bodies, Dunham’s upcoming collection has been slammed by critics for topping out at size 26 which they say caters to ‘mid-size at best.’

With the average woman in the United States wearing a size 16 to 18 (according to a scientific study) the backlash is not entirely surprising, particularly given the line is being touted as ‘inclusive.’

‘I think this particular collaboration is somewhat tone deaf,’ says celebrity stylist, Marcy Guevara-Prete. ‘When something is called inclusive and stops at 26, it excludes a large portion of the plus-size community, and the most desperate for pieces like these, those over a size 26.’

She adds that Dunham’s quick foray into plus-size fashion demonstrates her continued privilege in the industry.

Yes, Guevara-Prete’s response may be deemed a little harsh, but it can be attributed to Dunham’s pre-existing controversy within the plus-size community, the likes of which has seen her publicly distance herself from it and disregard the term ‘body positive.’

Because fashion has such an enormous presence in mainstream media – which brings with it an obligation by default to represent people and loosen rigid societal codes – many are confused as to why someone who hasn’t shown appreciation for the community is being uplifted within a marginalised space.

‘It really makes you wonder what was going on over there inside the brand,’ says writer Jess Sims. ‘I really hope they take this feedback internally to be smarter moving forward and think about who they want to align themselves with.’

From an outsider’s point of view, 11 Honoré had no shortage of style icons to choose from, most of whom are long-standing advocates of plus-size inclusivity, namely Kellie Brown, Precious Lee, and Lizzo.

The plus-size community, it seems, will be watching closely to see how the brand responds, reacts, and hopefully refocuses going forward.

@thredmag

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