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Monday, January 24, 2022

Is Denim in an Identity Crisis?


“Personal” style, as opposed to trend based, is a popular idea today, perhaps because it suggests a kind of social progress — a movement toward a world in which fashion is inclusive, accessible and less dogmatic. That is an especially appealing proposition for consumers who feel ignored by most of the retail market.

Lauren Chan, a model and size-inclusive advocate, said that when consumers can’t find well-made, stylish clothes for their bodies, “the message they receive is that they aren’t worthy of that.” Which is why, in 2019, she founded Henning, a clothing line for sizes 12 and up.

Unlike, say, Shein, where more is more, Ms. Chan is in the business of essentializing: providing access to quality staples, versus access to everything. (For spring, she’s introducing just a single denim jeans design: a stiff, vintage-inspired straight-leg pair.)

“The plus-size market is largely made up of pieces that are semi-trendy, watered-down versions of what fashion at large has been offering for the past year,” Ms. Chan said, “because plus-size fashion is often a little bit late to adapt to those trends.”

Plus-size shoppers have a long way to go before their access reflects that of straight-size shoppers — evidence, no doubt, of pervasive fat-phobia. But in the long run, it may be worth asking whether having virtually infinite choices — and infinite trends — actually reflects the average shopper’s ideal.

In his 2004 book, “The Paradox of Choice,” the psychologist Barry Schwartz proposed that while freedom of choice is crucial to our well-being, having too many choices makes us anxious. “Though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically,” he writes.



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