Ignored by mainstream fashion designers for years, the plus-size market is getting a boost with the announcement Tuesday that Isabel and Ruben Toledo will be designing a collection for size 14+ retailer Lane Bryant.
Isabel Toledo, a designer's designer who has exhibited her work at museums and taught at art schools such as the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, famously made the lemongrass yellow coat and dress that First Lady Michelle Obama wore to President Obama's first inauguration in 2009.
Speaking about the collaboration with Lane Bryant, Isabel Toledo told Women's Wear Daily that she and her husband "were intellectually on board from the first moment."
That statement to me is key. The excuse so many designers use for ignoring the plus-size market, and showing their clothes on increasingly skinny models, is that clothes just look better on bodies resembling bony hangers.
But any designer worth his or her salt should look at designing for a different size or shape as an intellectual challenge. With the "average" American woman now wearing a size 14, it should be one of the great intellectual challenges of our time.
The first fruits of their collaboration with Lane Bryant, which has 805 stores nationwide, will be a T-shirt and tote bag featuring Ruben Toledo's elegant fashion sketches in stores for the holidays. A full collection of ready-to-wear will follow in spring 2014.