Changes In the Fashion Industry for Plus Size Men

By on April 2, 2016

Plus Sized Male Models For awhile now women have been getting ad space that is in their plus sizes and the world has been eating it up.  I think it is fantastic to see that models that don’t fit into the super skinny mold are showing off the latest wares.  We have been seeing this for awhile, but now men are getting that same opportunity as women.  It was a bold move because fashion designers are scared that it won’t show off their product in the best light.  The National Post has done a full report on some of the latest designs for plus size men:

Earlier this month, 26-year-old Zach Miko — a 6ft 6in bearded New York actor with a 40in waist — made headlines when he was signed up by international agency IMG Models. It was a hailed as a milestone in an industry that, for years, has used just two distinct body shapes to sell its wares: rake-thin for the high-fashion runway, or gym-honed for the magazine shelf.

Denise Hatton, CEO of YMCA England, which helped create the Be Real campaign to change men’s attitudes to body image, says: “When people think about body issues, they automatically think of women, and where we’ve seen some positive changes that are female-focused, we’re only just seeing that happen for men, even though the same problems exist for them,” she says.

“Many men won’t go into changing rooms because they don’t like the way they look. Now that Zach has been signed up, though, other places will hopefully take notice, helping us get away from the image of men needing to be very slim with a six-pack.”

Despite the headlines, Miko is by no means the first plus-size male model. Several German agencies have long had larger-framed men (generally defined as being in excess of a 42in chest) on their books, and last summer the rotund American comedian Josh Ostrovsky — better known by his Instagram name The Fat Jew — was signed to model agency One Management. During New York Fashion Week, Ostrovsky hosted a catwalk show that celebrated the “dadbod” — the softly-rounded physique that men acquire as they slip into their contented middle age.

In taking on Miko, however, IMG Models has not only produced a face for the male plus-size movement, they have given it a label, too. Deliberately staying away from the term “plus-size”, the agency refer to their new signing as “brawny”.

“It’s only natural that the male industry should follow the women’s, and about time there was a face,” says Mpona Leboja, a booker at London-based agency Models Plus, which has so far signed up two plus-size male models of its own. “It is interesting they’re insisting on ‘brawny’ rather than ‘plus-size’, though. In women’s fashion, the official term is ‘curvy’ for bigger models, but people still just call it ‘plus-size’.”

Ashley Graham Plus Size Model

As in women’s fashion, the size of male clothing is entirely unreflective of the typical consumer. Research by menswear brand The Idle Man in 2014 revealed that the average British man has a chest size of 42in (a 5in increase from 1956) and 37in waist. Going by the size guides of most high street retailers, that puts most men at the upper end of “large”.

With that label, in addition to the society’s habit of shamelessly mocking men for their size, it’s no surprise that in a YouGov poll last year, a third of British men declared themselves unhappy with their body image. And while designers of women’s clothes have been placed under scrutiny to reflect their audience better, the forms of male models have tended to remain staunchly fixed.

According to Toby Wiseman, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, Britain’s best-selling men’s magazine, market statistics are unlikely to change the way designers think, regardless of Mika’s impact.

Brawny Men Male Models

“The objective of a model is to sell clothes,” he says. “Normally that’s achieved by selecting models who make clothes look good. A slim waist and broad shoulder will always showcase clothes better because it better exposes the cut and drape of fabric to create an attractive, flattering silhouette. No designer has ever dressed a model with a 42-inch waist because he thinks it will best flaunt his wares. [Mika’s signing to IMG] is everything about jumping onto a PR bandwagon, and little about the business of selling fashion.”

It may be a little longer before we see plus size men in the mainstream for the latest fashion trends but this is a huge turn in the right direction.  We will always keep up with the latest fashion for “brawny” type men.

About Nick Dean

I love to go on treks even if it is out in my backyard. If I am not on treks, I am at the office working and trying to keep a good eye out for men's fashion. It is important to me to look sharp while being comfortable and I will share my findings here.

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  1. Pingback: Get Ready, Slouchy and Tapered Pants are Coming Back | Male Emporium

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