As the fashion industry continues to push for increased diversity, is the gap in the market for plus-size male models finally starting to be addressed?
‘Scuse the cliché, but times have changed and so has fashion. Conversations within the 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. But why are high-street and high-end brands focusing primarily on women’s clothes?
Because stereotypically, women are more interested in fashion – or so we’ve been taught to believe. Female fashion has always been two steps ahead of men’s due to this notion and even though the female plus-size market has been developing for several decades now, the male equivalent has only really materialised in recent years.
Amidst an ever-growing celebration of the female form, men are frequently forgotten about, and menswear largely faces little to no criticism for its tropes, like its depiction of ‘skinny boys’ and the long, lean aesthetic that’s massively favoured on the runway and in advertising campaigns. Of course, the same can still be said of womenswear but the key difference is that women are constantly discussing and rallying against traditional beauty standards whereas men generally tend to remain silent in this area.
‘Insecurity itself is perhaps the most prominent reason for a lack of discussion – after all, a reluctance to discuss male insecurities stems from the social conditioning of men,’ says Kelvin Davis, founder of plus-size style blog Notoriously Dapper. ‘Bigger men sometimes struggle with body issues. Overcoming that is tough on its own. Then you have the fashion industry that doesn’t cater to them.’
Alongside the delayed growth of plus-size menswear, there’s another issue likely contributing to a lack of male diversity in fashion. Until now, plus-size men have needed to get a lot of their clothing altered or tailored to fit right, and this is a clear sign that the industry has been failing them for a long time. Thankfully, their visibility is slowly beginning to rise and there are many talented young models and menswear designers striving to change the status quo.
David Fadd is one of them. At 6ft 4” tall, with a 51” waist, he’s signed as a plus-size model and recognises the importance of fighting for more body positivity among men. ‘It’s hard to be vulnerable and it’s looked down upon as ‘oh, having body insecurities is only something teenage girls go through,’ but it’s essential to speak up because that’s when you can move out of this isolation,’ he says.
Fadd is referring to a wider issue of toxic masculinity in a modern-day society that makes it difficult for men to feel assured, knowing their insecurities, low self-esteem and self-image are not taboo. While it goes without saying that women’s bodies are policed a great deal more than men, especially by the media, the commercial invisibility of men of size speaks for itself.