The topic of plus size models has long been a hot one in fashion and retail circles. But while plus size female models are becoming increasingly respected and marketed – indeed, UK Plus Size Fashion Week took place over three days in London during September – what about the men?
Where are all the plus-size male models? It’s a question the Guardianasked recently. The article’s writer, Morwenna Ferrier, commented: ‘I asked three major agencies in the UK, all of whom have plus-sized female models on their books, and they all said they have no plans to sign plus-size male models.’ However, in Germany there’s a different attitude, with three agencies that specialise in plus-size male models.
In model terms, plus size for women starts at 14; in retail clothing terms it’s more commonly 18. But for men, what is considered plus size? Clearly, that opens up a wide field. Recent research from Mintel shows that 20% of males in the UK – so almost a quarter of the population – have a waist size of 38 inches or more. That’s a lot of bigger guys who are never going to look like the muscular perfection that is David Beckham in his boxers.
But also, men’s clothing is available in far bigger sizes – from 1XL all the way up to 8XL. These size ranges are typically available from specialist suppliers dedicated to the larger man though generally many mainstream retailers have a wide range. Dobell suit trousers go up to 48 inch waist, and jackets to a 54 inch chest.
So – it’s certainly not the case that bigger or plus sizes men aren’t being catered for. The clothes are out there. What’s the problem? At this year’s New York men’s fashion week the subject was raised and the message from modelling agencies was that there is no demand for plus-sized models. ‘As an agency we don’t dictate demand, we respond to it,’ DNA model management’s Gene Kogan told YahooStyle. ‘Demand has to originate from designers, brands or retailers. If there was a strong demand for plus-size male models, believe we would be scouting for them.’
There’s also a train of thought that the majority of male clothing is not bought by men at all, but by their wives and partners - so the marketing and advertising of men’s fashion is aimed at women.
These days, even the non-human models are far removed from large physiques.
Thisreport suggested the standard male mannequin size has shrunk from a 42 inch chest and a 33 inch waist – some might consider those ‘average’ dimensions – to a 35 inch chest and a 27 waist over the last 40 years. Those measurements actually make for a very slender, almost waif-like figure. The type of figure seen almost exclusively on the catwalk and inside high-end lifestyle magazines.
While there is pressure on brands and retailers to feature plus-size female models – and applause and appreciation when they do – it seems the plus-size male model doesn’t actually exist. Not yet, at least. Until there is a breakthrough, the DadBod will stay firmly in the background, outside the public glare.
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