With some fashion brands spinning off or specializing in plus-size clothing lines, there has become a need for models that can pull off those clothes. These lines can in fact be traced as far back as the 1920’s in North America, with Lane Bryant catalogs already including items marketed toward plus-size women.
Some decades later, model agencies started representing plus-size models, and they broke through the scene in the middle to late 1980’s. Today, even the top agencies have plus-size divisions, although Ford Models did close its own in the middle of 2013 in order to put more focus on its main editorial divisions.
Requirements for plus-size models
For the sake of classification, plus-size models are not necessarily plus-size in terms of actual measurements. Sure, they fall outside the range of your standard editorial fashion model, which is why models in the range of sizes 8 to 12, depending on the build, are usually considered for plus-size modeling. Sometimes, even a size 6 can be considered.
Print and runway usually involves heights of 5’7" up to 6‘, with the extra height allowing for a more balanced look for the size. Requirements are generally looser for print work. Still, it would help to know the exact preferences of the agency you want to work with or the particular requirements for the gig you’re eyeing.
Plus-size modeling does not merely involve modeling for the aforementioned special clothing lines. Stock photography gigs, as well as advertising shoots for a variety of fields like footwear, watches, sunglasses, household products, and others.
If you want to work as a plus-size model, you can still follow our general step-by-step guide with some tweaks(Modeling Wisdom’s Step By Step modeling Guide). There may be fewer options as far as modeling agencies go, and the amount and level of competition could still be the same in this niche, but those things should not stop you from trying.
Room for improvement
While plus-size models have made great strides in recent years, there is still one field in which they have to break through. The runway can still be pretty prohibitive because of its requirements, and notable plus-size models like Robyn Lawley have spoken about the “lack of diversity" as far as the catwalk and the bigger fashion brands are concerned.
In addition, using size 10 to 12 models for plus-size campaigns isn’t representative of what plus-size shoppers want to see. Considering the average size for women in America is around size 14 according to a 2011 study, there’s really a discrepancy. It’s only more for the extended sizes instead of the actual plus-size ones going all the way through sizes in the twenties.
Regardless of these trends, the plus-size fashion market continues to develop, although it’s leaps and bounds ahead in the west compared to the Asian market, for example. With that, we expect plus-size models to have a considerable role for years to come. If you feel like you can make it in this niche, don’t hesitate to strut your stuff and try it out! PLUS Model Magazine and Blog is a nice little resource if you are looking for more support, details, and information on the world of plus size modeling.