Plus-Size Shoppers Can Never Win Fashion’s Sustainability Game

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Plus-Size Shoppers Can Never Win Fashion’s Sustainability Game


“Resellers aren’t just taking the extremely trendy stuff—they’re also making it incredibly expensive and inaccessible,” the 20-year-old says. “I’m not going to go out of my way to go to the thrift store if I can’t find anything.” Another issue: “I’ve seen so many people rework vintage plus-size clothing to fit smaller sizes. I just think about the people that could have had the opportunity to have something they love in their size.”

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Thrifting is an art form—anyone who’s gone digging in their local GoodWill dollar bins can tell you that much. Combing through racks and racks of clothing, all decently priced and begging for a new life, can take hours if you’re meticulous about it. For straight-sized women who want to achieve the cool-girl thrifted look, a simple scroll on Depop or a trip to their local vintage store might do the trick. For plus-size women, who are already dealing with slim pickings at the start, having someone who can track down kitschy, secondhand clothing is a blessing. Not to mention, a lucrative business venture with a highly untapped market. Emma Zack, founder of Berriez, an online plus-size vintage shop, even quit her job in criminal justice reform to pursue secondhand flipping full time.

“I’ve been trying to take pieces and rework them to fit the Y2K aesthetic that the Depop girlies want because it is tricky to find those pieces in our size,” she says. “They just weren’t being mass produced like that back in the day. With Berriez, I put an emphasis on styling the garment. A blue button down may look dowdy on the hanger, but if you style it up, it’ll look aesthetically pleasing.”

Zack tells Glamour she has people across the country to help source inventory for her exponentially growing clientele. Although it’s not easy to find plus-size second hand clothing that fits well within what’s trendy, it isn’t impossible. But it’s important to note most pieces cap out at 20 or 24—another hurdle to overcome for plus-size shoppers who are looking for true inclusion. For these women, the alternative is often to just buy fast fashion.

Lauren Licup, a plus-size style influencer, knows this dilemma all too well. While she’d prefer to thrift, she admits that she often has to turn to fast fashion brands in order to keep up with the rapidly evolving trend cycle. For every thrifted satin slip Licup scored at an online auction, she had to turn to a fast fashion retailer to finish off the look.

“TikTok has romanticized the idea of thrifting,” she says. “It definitely hit a point where it was like, ‘You need to be thrifting these certain items in order to be cool. If you’re not thrifting the most vintage, cool, Y2K or ‘90s thing ever, it’s not going to get any views.”

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Fast fashion staples like ASOS, Princess Polly, and Shein have all kept up with the high demands from plus-size shoppers closely watching their For You pages. But if you’re a trendy-savvy shopper above a size 12, there are few low-cost options that don’t negatively impact the planet. And frankly, why can’t plus-size women have both?

Even though plus-size women have waited long enough, the only thing left to do is stand by idly. With the rise of micro-trends, Black believes there will be more and more plus-size pieces in the thrift store, albeit most of those newfound pieces stemming from the same fast fashion websites that expanded a few years ago. The secondhand market is expected to grow 127% by 2026—and, along with it, a newfound passion for intersectional secondhand.

“I hope a plus-size girl is going to come along and be like ‘You know what? Enough.’ and make something that sticks—whether it’s a mass market plus-size vintage shop or a fully sustainable brand,” Black says. “Plussize people are just tired of not having any options. It starts with us.”

Ana Escalante is Glamour’s editorial assistant. You can find her talking about her love of thong sandals on her Instagram, @balencianas. 

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