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The cost of representation: Why fast-fashion brands’ inclusive sizing is a problem

In the 24 hours after its November 18 launch, Megan Thee Stallion’s Fashion Nova collaboration reportedly drove over $1.2 million in sales. The line features 106 pieces, and offers junior, plus and even tall sizes, welcoming women over 5’10” to the inclusivity conversation.

Fashion Nova, Forever 21 and Boohoo make up 39%, 12% and 10% of the plus-size market, respectively. Fast-fashion brands including Asos, Pretty Little Thing and H&M have also launched size-inclusive collections. In contrast, per Edited, less than 20% of sustainable brands carry above-average sizing — Reformation launched expanded sizing in select pieces in 2018.

Fast-fashion retailers often capitalize off egregious labor practices, and their affordable, diverse sizing can leave women who wear above-average sizes chained to the cycle.

“Fast-fashion retailers exploit garment workers, who are mostly women of color; they over-market to Black women, although they do not protect our interests; they steal designs of Black women and other rising designers; and they [do] horrific harm to our planet,” said Mica Caine.

Following the release of Megan Thee Stallion’s line, Caine expressed her discontent in an open letter on social media, which was reshared by Unbothered, Refinery29’s community for Black millennial women. In the letter, Caine cited fast fashion as “one of the most destructive, racist and anti-woman industries in the world.”

Approximately 80% of garment workers are women, according to non-profit company Labour Behind the Label. A February 2015 report by the Clean Clothes Campaign showed that the top garment producing countries in 2011 were China, Bangladesh, India, Turkey and Vietnam.

In July 2018, Refinery29 owed Fashion Nova’s ascent, in part, to working with influencers who were women of color. Furthermore, Black consumer choices have a “cool factor” that influences the mainstream, per Nielsen.

In her letter, Caine discussed fast-fashion’s long history of copying designs from independent Black designers. Designer Aazhia claimed Fashion Nova stole her work for Megan Thee Stallion’s collection, which Megan refuted in an interview with The Morning Hustle.

In 2019, after a 3-year federal investigation, the New York Times reported on December 16 that Fashion Nova illegally underpaid factory workers. Minutes after the article was shared, Fashion Nova responded to the allegations on Twitter, calling them “categorically false.” Read from source….