fashion

"I didn’t see my size on the runway at Fashion Week. I’m angry, and I’m not the only one."

Last week, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week (AAFW) hit the Sydney stage. As a curve model eagerly watching from Adelaide, I was keen to see some changes from previous years. 

I was ready to scream “YES” when I saw the vast size diversity that represents the breadth of Australian consumers. 

I was ready to clap for the women who worked hard to put curves on the runway. 

I was ready to feel accomplished, like we’re finally making headway in the fashion industry.

Watch: Mamamia reviews non-family-friendly fashion. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

What I wasn’t ready for were the feelings of disappointment and anger that overcame me. 

According to ABS data, the average size for Australian women is between 14-16, but if you used Australian Fashion Week as a guide for representing the population, you’d be grossly misinformed. 

From the 70 labels featured in fashion week, there were only three labels that cater for size 16 and over – with only a fraction more offering size 14+.

That means while the average sized woman is 14-16, she was only represented by 4.3 per cent of brands at AAFW. 

If that figure doesn’t both confuse and anger you, I don’t know what will.

I’m not the only one feeling this way – plus size models and influencers with the likes of Kate Wasley, Riley Hemson, and Founder of Everi-Body Models Nikki Mann, have spoken up on social media about how the lack of size diversity has made them feel.

Nikki Mann called out AAFW in an Instagram post: 

"Dear Aus fashion week. Enough is enough. No more “excuses”, DO BETTER. I’m not about to write a whole big caption.... but instead I’m planning something BIG with a bunch of badass humans in this industry."

And Riley Hemson, who has an impressive 361k followers, shared on her post:

"Serving the curves @ausfashionweek clearly forgot to serve. This week really highlighted how far we still have to go in terms of size diversity in the fashion industry. 14-16 is the average dress size in Australia, yet I sat through shows this week and saw two models over a size 12. It just isn’t it! Can’t believe in 2021 we are still having this conversation. On behalf of all my curvy babes: We are here. We wear clothes. [And] we will look damn good on that runway."

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Kate Wasley highlighted the same frustration in a post.

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Being a curve model myself, I’ve noticed the industry can add in plus size women as a token rather than a campaign focal point. 

Australia’s high fashion brands have been relatively slow to pick up on consumer demands, especially since fashion in America and the UK has been killing the curve game for a while.

We’re behind the curve in more ways than one.

Growing up as a chubby girl in Adelaide, I never saw myself in any prominent, "boss babe" roles in media – I only saw my body as the ‘before’ pictures, or the funny fat girl sidekick friend. 

From a young age, I wanted to change my body to look like everyone else; I wished and prayed for thigh gaps, a tiny waist and a flat stomach.

I learned to love myself throughout my 20s as social media movements like body positivity began to gain momentum. 

I found an online community that made me feel empowered, beautiful and confident in my own skin.

It gave me the courage two years ago to reach out to my agency (Finesse Models) and sign up – the opportunities are wonderful, but few and far between here in little Adelaide.

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.


Though there are some changes happening Australia-wide, it’s not happening fast enough. 

Just before COVID-19 hit our shores in 2020, I flew to Melbourne for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) for the curve casting call. 

With only a few spots available and standing in line with well-known curve models like Jess King, Jessica Vander Leahy, Yasmine Minovski, and Sarah Bolt, I didn’t stand a chance (it was a vulnerable, scary and exciting experience nonetheless). I was disappointed then that only a few spots were allocated for plus size models, and I’m sad that nothing has really changed.

I was disappointed then to find only a few spots were allocated for plus size models, and I’m sad that nothing has changed.

Image: Supplied.

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With bigger name brands like Forever New, City Chic, Showpo, Commonry, Cotton On and Boohoo making waves (and money) with curve fashion and expanding their standard ranges, it made me wonder why so few brands in AAFW didn’t want to embrace the curves.

It’s not like the demand isn’t there, the problem is that brands don’t want to add bigger sizes to their range because they want a certain type of ‘look’ in their clothing.

Curve ladies, our invitations from high fashion brands aren’t getting lost in the mail, we are being kept off the list entirely. They hear us loud and clear and yet they refuse to offer anything past a size 14.

To whoever's in charge of fashion week, we want representation and we want it NOW! 

You’ve seen the successes behind representation in all forms – don’t become Victoria’s Secret in a world that wants more Savage X Fenty.

Listen to your consumers or you’ll be pushed aside by our big fat butts.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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