Chicagoan Jovana Savic has a developed sense of personal style. But that style doesn’t include traditional plus-size offerings like fishnets and zebra print.
Even when stores carried plus-size clothing, those lines tended to make assumptions about her personal taste, so she turned to thrifting. Now, she wants to bring that experience to plus-size Chicagoans.
Savic identified a gap in the market. Thick Mall, a vintage clothing market for “sizes L and up,” is her answer. The market hosts vendors that include local small businesses and people selling their personal collections. “When somebody comes into Thick Mall, I want them to see other bodies like theirs,” she told Reset.
Plus-size fashion has come a long way in the 119 years since Lane Bryant opened its doors in 1904. But even as the average American woman’s dress size has gone up, brands have not matched pace.
“I interviewed a designer who said that plus-size women—the perception has always been that their bodies are not forever, that their bodies are temporary,” plus-size fashion blogger Natalie Craig told Reset. “And that’s why plus-size clothing isn’t given much attention.”
More plus-sized people have started to embrace their bodies and see themselves as deserving of affordable, stylish clothing.
Megan Kirby walked into Thick Mall as a reporter, but she found herself moved by what she saw. As a lover and collector of vintage clothing, Kirby values the history in each piece she wears. “There have always been fat people, and there have always been fat people who love to wear clothes,” she told Reset. “Sometimes it feels hard to love fashion and feel like fashion doesn’t always love you back.”
In Thick Mall, Kirby and other plus-size Chicagoans found a novel experience: they could try on clothes before purchasing them. And they could sip a drink and swap stories with people who share a common life experience. “It’s really rare that fat people who are passionate about fashion walk into a space and are surrounded by each other,” Savic said. “We’re really trying to make it a safe space for people to try things on and explore.”
The next Thick Mall will take place from 12pm to 5pm on February 19 at Sleeping Village. The event is 21+ and free to attend. Until then, Jovana and Megan suggest Big Bud Press for new plus-size clothing and Thick Chick Vintage and Luvsick Plus for size-inclusive vintage offerings.
This is Part 3 of Reset’s Bias Against Bodies series. Sarah Stark is a freelance producer for Reset. You can follow her @itssarahstark.