There’s a new culture of fashion shopping for the younger generations as they more frequently choose to peruse op-shops as a quasi-protest against fast fashion corporations that rake in billions of dollars a year.
Fast fashion outlets have been faced with allegations of slave labour and child exploitation, from SHEIN to Zara.
There have been accusations of unfair work practices, environmentally destructive methods of clothes production, and, in some instances, a plea for help sewn into the clothing tags by underpaid factory workers.
The plus-sized fashion market in New Zealand holds little value to those who are actually plus-sized.
With exorbitant prices and fashion styles last seen in sepia, many plus-sized garments would be better reserved for sleepwear.
As someone who was once restricted to online shopping for plus-sized wares, not many options meet
the affordability level seen in op shops and stores like Cotton On or Glassons.
This isn’t to say that Cotton On or Glassons don’t subscribe to the same production methods as other fast fashion outlets, but they do plague our malls and shopping strips as some of the more popular clothing store options.
Online debates about the ethics of shopping through SHEIN – an online fast fashion retailer from China – rarely pay attention to those who cannot find clothes that make them feel comfortable and confident due to their size.
The issue is not with the person’s size but with the fashion world that imparts a culture of low self-esteem to young people if they cannot fit into the stick-thin mould seen in fashion models and icons.
Op shops have slowly introduced plus-sized sections, but more problems have arisen in the new fashion trend of oversized or baggy clothing, which has people buying the larger stocked sizes.
There really is no winning for the plus-sized, even if they manage to find the clothing they like.
The Australasian fashion market trends a season behind the northern hemisphere, so we essentially get left with the dregs at the bottom of the beer bottle.
Body positivity movements have filtered through to many social media campaigns but – despite being supported by millions – aren’t reflected in clothing stores through simple acts like stocking larger sizes.
As mentioned previously, I speak from experience as a former plus-sized person.
Having migrated from a size 22 to a 12 or sometimes 10 has opened my eyes to the availability of fashionable clothing that makes you feel truly exceptional.
Everyone is deserving of this feeling.
Plus size fashion [and the lack of it] aside, there’s no doubt that second-hand shopping has made a comeback in recent years.
Whether it’s the rise in popularity of “vintage” fashion or sustainability, op shopping has become a new trend in itself.
Young ones are enjoying the aesthetic of the 90s, 80s, 70s, and even the 60s without the overt sexism of gender roles, racial segregation, or lack of healthcare equality.
While people are utilising sustainable shopping methods more frequently, the fast fashion industry will continue to churn garment after garment as long as they make a profit.
I look forward to seeing sustainable shopping options become more accessible in the years to follow for everyone, body shape and size aside.