woman wearing plus size sustainable leggings from ethical brand Girlfriend Collective
26 Sep
woman wearing plus size sustainable leggings from ethical brand Girlfriend Collective

Why We Need Size Inclusive Fashion, and Which Brands Are Doing It Best

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Everybody deserves to enjoy more sustainable fashion that not only aligns with their values, but fits their figure. Here’s our round up of conscious clothing brands that are helping to tackle the lack of size inclusivity in the industry.

Everyone should be catered for

Fashion is a means to express yourself and your creativity whilst feeling fabulous. Imagine a world where the fashion industry celebrates all types of beauty and sizes, and empowers its consumers in their diverse glory to feel great about themselves. Join us as we explore extended sizing in fashion, and give you the lowdown on the most sustainable size-inclusive fashion brands—because everyone should be able to match their clothing to their values.

As more businesses start to assess their sustainability and ethics standards, equality needs to be considered to make their consumers feel empowered and represented in the market, especially when it comes to fashion.

Size inclusivity has been gaining more and more traction in the fashion industry over the last few years. From Versace embracing curvy models on the catwalk during Milan Fashion Week, to Jameela Jamil endorsing ideas of “body neutrality“, to the rise of diverse models gracing our screens and fashion catalogues.

While this is all taking place when it comes to ethical fashion, size inclusivity has a way to go for it to truly be accessible to all conscious consumers. We’ve listed some of our favourite brands below that are taking both fashion movements in its stride. But before we do, let’s go through the issues and challenges of size inclusivity in the ethical fashion world.

So what is size inclusivity?

Size inclusivity is the practice of equally representing a wide variety of body shapes and sizes. Yet when it comes to clothing, most designers cap sizes from size 6-14 US (12-18 UK/AU), excluding a major market of consumers who fit outside of “standardised” sizing. To make all these numbers easier to understand, here is our helpful international size conversion page, though make sure to refer to each brand’s own sizing charts for the best info if you decide to shop with them.

In a study by the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education, results found that the average size of an American woman was between 16-18, not a size 14 as previously assumed. In America, most clothing above a size 14 is considered “plus” size, yet according to another study by Plunkett Research, 68% of US women are a size 14 or above. So why is the size of the average woman being excluded from the market?

It stems from commercial standards reports which determined standardised sizing at the beginning of mass production in the apparel industry. But it’s been a long while since the ’50s, and it’s time for the fashion industry to catch up.

How are we playing catch up?

Since then, the industry has tried to catch up with sizes falling outside the “standard” paradigms. The clothing industry has extended collections to “plus size”, “petite”, and “tall”, and as a result an increase in the variety of sizes was up by 21% in womenswear in 2019. However, there’s still major work to be done when it comes to acknowledging all sizes in ethical fashion.

So, what are the barriers for sustainable labels when it comes to extending their sizes?

Many of these labels are still smaller, independent companies, and extending sizes where there’s uncertain customer demand, little support from retailers, and higher production costs can prove a hurdle or risk.

Further to this, when creating extended designs one of the challenges is the need to develop new patterns—it isn’t as simple as using more or less fabric to make the same clothing item.

“While many pattern-makers are proficient in most areas of pattern-making, most specialise in a particular category,” says Kathryn Hilderbrand, founder and CEO of Good Clothing Company, a US-based manufacturer.

As there is a difference in pattern rules from infants’ clothing to kids' wear, so is there a difference in rules between womenswear and women's plus sizes.

Kathryn Hilderbrand

This is also the reason behind why some labels will create entirely separate collections for petite, tall, plus, or maternity, as designer Mara Hoffman explains.

‘Extending sizing’ is actually a bit of a misnomer. It actually entails developing an entirely new collection. Straight sizes are usually based on a size 4, with inches being added or subtracted from there. Pieces for extended sizing need separate fittings, patterns, and design changes.

Mara Hoffman

However, investment into extending sizes is a promising move for sustainable labels, with the plus-size market worth billions of dollars each year. Global consultancy firm Simon-Kucher & Partners found that body positivity was the fourth-most important consideration when deciding to buy from ethical labels, following fair labour standards, sustainable materials and processes, and profits being donated to charity.

So what can you do to influence the market?

If there are sustainable labels or stockists that you love, let them know you’re looking for your size in stock. If it’s a smaller label, see if they can custom design a piece for you. The more people who reach out, the more these brands will recognise that there is a real need and a gap in the market they can (and should) help to fill.

For labels who want to support their customer base: try testing a few extended sizes on one piece, or develop a limited edition collection. There are many success stories out there of designers who have extended their collections and have provided tips for successfully expanding into the market.

Where to shop

Finding extended sizes on resale

Like we’ve mentioned before, buying second hand is almost always the most sustainable option. You can research your favourite ethical size-inclusive brands (or refer to our list below), then try your hand at buying from pre-owned retail platforms such as Vestaire Collective, thredUP, Thrift+, and Depop. If you’re in the US, a recent and exciting addition to the plus-size resale world is The Plus Bus.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite brands covering a range of sizes.

A note on size inclusivity

Good On You wants to help you find sustainable options that suit your needs. We share your frustration that sustainable fashion has too few size-inclusive options. Sustainable brands often lack an extended sizing range beyond 2XL, and when they do, they might provide limited options. In order for sustainable fashion to become more mainstream, it has to include everyone, and brands need to catch up or risk getting left behind. Until then, ethical brands offering custom sizing are a good option. Dipping into brands rated “It’s a Start” if they best meet your needs also works. Discover more about the importance of size inclusivity in fashion.

Inclusive ranges

Girlfriend Collective

Rated: Good
woman wearing plus size sustainable leggings from ethical brand Girlfriend Collective

2XS-6XL

In need of comfy leggings to get you through those days of lounging around at home? Look no further than Girlfriend Collective. This ethical label is truly transparent with inclusivity and sustainability in front of mind. Its luxurious active and loungewear comes in a range of inclusive sizes—from 2XS-6XL—and it is certified by both OEKO-TEX Standard 100 and BlueSign.

See the rating.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Girlfriend Collective.

Jamie + The Jones

Rated: Good

XS-4XL

This Nashville based label believes in creating beautiful pieces you’ll want to live in while supporting cherished textile traditions. All of its garments (excluding its J+J Organic Knits) are designed, produced, and packaged in a Nashville studio and delivered to your door. Its quality crafted pieces have you covered from sizes XS-4XL that embody beautiful silhouettes and cuts.

See the rating.

Shop Jamie + The Jones.

The Standard Stitch

Rated: Great
Pink and yellow eco-friendly t-shirts by The Standard Stitch.

XS-5XL

The Standard Stitch was founded on the belief that the fashion industry should be shaken up. This loungewear brand makes size inclusive from XS-5XL, sustainably sourced, and ethically made apparel for all your lounging needs.

See the rating.

Shop The Standard Stitch.

HARA

Rated: Great

XS-5XL

HARA’s vision to bring change and awareness to the issues of the fashion industry is evident through its curation of ethical clothing and celebration of diversity. The label specialises in underwear, bras, loungewear, and sportswear. The unique, minimal, and vibrantly coloured pieces feature models with diverse body shapes and races across its catalogue and tailor to sizes XS-5XL.

See the rating.

Shop HARA.

ABLE

Rated: Good

2XS-3XL

ABLE is a US-based clothing and accessories brand that works with communities all over the world to make a meaningful impact, producing slow fashion that pays a living wage to women who have faced extraordinary circumstances. Its collections are thoughtfully designed with pieces that move with the body regardless of size or shape, quickly becoming much-loved wardrobe staples.

See the rating.

Shop ABLE.

Altar

Rated: Good
plus size woman wearing sustainable puff sleeves crop top by Altar

S-6XL

Altar is a US-based boutique that specialises in alternative and custom fashion, apothecary, and gifts. The brand celebrates independent manufacturers and artists from across North America, with a focus on the stories that are woven into their work. Its clothing brand, Altar Houseline, is proudly made in America using deadstock materials and serves size gradations from size S-6XL.

See the rating.

Shop Altar.

Known Supply

Rated: Good
someone in steel blue stripe remy jumpsuit by known supply

XS-4XL

Know Supply is a US-based, B-Corp Certified sustainable fashion brand that is humanising the apparel industry by celebrating the people who make our clothing and the people who wear it. Find most items in sizes XS-4XL.

See the rating.

Shop Known Supply.

Shop Known Supply @ Wearwell.

The Classic T-Shirt Company

Rated: Great

2XS-3XL

The Classic T-Shirt Company will have you covered if you’re in the market for a new tee. Its shirts are GOTS-certified organic cotton, made to last, and are manufactured in the USA to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint.

See the rating.

Shop The Classic T-Shirt Company.

Shop The Classic T-Shirt Company @ Urbankissed.

Threads 4 Thought

Rated: Good
plus size woman of colour wearing lavender plus size tank by Threads 4 Thought

2XS-3XL

Threads 4 Thought uses a range of sustainable materials including Lenzing Modal harvested from the limbs of beech trees. This process means that the trees are never cut down and 95% of the production materials to make the yarn are recovered and reused. The brand’s manufacturers are a combination of Fair Trade USA certified and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production certified. Find the range in sizes 2XS-XL, with an extended sizing range up to 3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Threads 4 Thought.

Shop Threads 4 Thought @ Veneka.

Two Days Off

Rated: Great
woman wearing small gold hoop earrings

XS-4XL

Two Days Off brings a sense of ease to your wardrobe and your mind. Prioritising deadstock and biodegradable materials, Two Days Off limited run pieces are longwearing and thoughtfully designed.

See the rating.

Shop Two Days Off.

Elle Evans

Rated: Great
group of women wearing eco-friendly activewear by Melbourne designer Elle Evans

XS-3XL

Founded in 2013, Elle Evans Swimwear creates beautiful, sustainable swimwear and activewear for people who care about fashion and the future. The brand uses post-consumer waste fabrics and traces all of its supply chain. The range is stocked in sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Elle Evans.

Knickey

Rated: Great

2XS-3XL

Made in a Fair Trade Certified factory, Knickey’s organic cotton underwear sets are some of the best in the sustainable market. Taking it a step further, the brand has also partnered with an NYC non-profit to recycle old undergarments, turning the fibres into insulation and rug pads. Sending in your old undies will not only help cut down on the amount of fibres that wind up in the landfill, but it’ll give you the freedom to buy new, eco-conscious sets.

See the rating.

Shop Knickey.

MATE the Label

Rated: Great

XS-3XL

MATE the Label creates clean essentials made with GOTS certified organic fabrics and low-impact dyes. Its goal is to offer women everywhere a clean product that is just as beautiful as it is sustainable. It is proudly female-founded and is predominately operated by women. This US brand also manufactures locally to reduce its carbon footprint.

See the rating.

Shop MATE the Label.

Kuwaii

Rated: Good
Person wearing size inclusive colourful dress by Kuwaii.

AU 4-22

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Kuwaii prides itself in being an alternative to mass-produced fashion, making sure each article is meticulously designed to last.

See the rating.

Shop Kuwaii.

CHNGE

Rated: Good

2XS-4XL

CHNGE gives consumers who care about the planet an outlet to make a positive impact through their purchases. The sustainable fashion brand using 100% organic material, built to last a lifetime while making a statement.

See the rating.

Shop CHNGE.

Birdsong

Rated: Good

2XS-3XL

Birdsong stands as the antidote to fast fashion producing unique, bold, trend-free designs. It employs workers in London facing barriers to employment including adults with learning disabilities to refugees who are all paid a fair working wage. The business is built on a philosophy of fairness and authenticity, promising customers “no sweatshop, no photoshop”.

See the rating.

Shop Birdsong.

Shop Birdsong @ SlowCo.

Pansy

Rated: Good
plus size woman of colour wearing light green organic cotton bra by Pansy

XS-3XL

Pansy is a California based basics brand that offers organic cotton underwear for all beautiful sizes.

See the rating.

Shop Pansy.

Seek Collective

Rated: Good
black plus size woman wearing sustainable Leta Dress by Seek Collective

XS-4XL

Seek Collective is a US brand of thoughtfully made items with a dedication to transparency, authenticity, craft, and sustainability. Seek is focused on establishing connections between art, product, consumers, process, and makers. Its items are made in India through partnerships with like-minded communities and people. Find most products in XS-L, with an extended sizing range up to 4XL.

See the rating.

Shop Seek Collective.

LONDRĖ

Rated: Good

XS-5XL

This bodywear label brings you high quality swimwear that flatters all shapes and sizes. The Canadian brand produces swimwear from recycled plastic bottled and has so far recycled more than 90,000 bottles from the beaches and streets of Taiwan. This is swimwear we know you’ll love, no matter the bod you rock.

See the rating.

Shop LONDRĖ.

Dazey LA

Rated: Good
woman wearing lemon checkered jacket by Dazey LA

XS-4XL

Dazey LA is an art apparel and accessories brand that features hand drawn designs inspired by ’70s posters and vintage graphic art. Find most of the range in sizes S-2XL, or shop extended sizes up to 4XL.

See the rating.

Shop Dazey LA @ Curate.

Shop Dazey LA.

Franc

Rated: Good

XS-3XL

Franc is a Canadian brand that makes basics so you can enjoy a complete wardrobe built on timeless essentials. The brand ranks well on all fronts: it uses eco-friendly materials, pays a living wage, and uses no animal products.

See the rating.

Shop Franc.

Proclaim

Rated: Good

S-3XL

Proclaim is an ethical and inclusive “nude” lingerie label that celebrates and represents all women whilst also being kind to the planet. Made out of recycled plastic water bottles, the pieces by this Los Angeles label come in “nudes” that represent all shades so that a range of skin colours are embraced, and offer a variety of sizes so no lady is left behind.

See the rating.

Shop Proclaim.

Free Label

Rated: Good

XS-4XL

Free Label brings basics back that don’t come at a cost to the environment or undermining of human rights. This Canadian based label creates pieces locally in both Toronto and Vancouver to support the local economy and to ensure pieces are made ethically. It creates comfortable clothing from natural fibres including organic cotton, linen, and bamboo.

See the rating.

Shop Free Label.

Ace & Jig

Rated: It's A Start

2XS-4XL

Ace and Jig creates its own yarn-dyed woven fabric made by artisan weavers in India to create bright, effortlessly chic pieces. The outfits are perfect to wear to picnics on those bright sunny days, or when you need to add a splash of colour to your outfit during the colder seasons. The brand extended its sizing back in 2018, trialling one piece at a time, and with overwhelming success have extended sizing for most of their pieces from 2XS-4XL.

See the rating.

Shop Ace & Jig.

Mara Hoffman

Rated: Good

2XS-3XL

Mara Hoffman brings a fresh edge to sustainable designer fashion, with its emphasis on bold colours and diverse array of patterns. With an exclusive extended sizes range, the brand brings fun, edgy ethical fashion to all. The label uses a range of earth conscious materials including GOTS certified cotton, recycled nylon and recycled polyester, and some products are Oeko-Tex STeP certified, too.

See the rating.

Shop Mara Hoffman @ Reve en Vert.

Shop Mara Hoffman @ Farfetch.

Shop Mara Hoffman Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Mara Hoffman.

Outland Denim

Rated: Great

2XS-3XL

This B Corporation certified brand rates highly on all fronts and offers ethical employment opportunities for women rescued from human trafficking in Cambodia. It has a range of denim styles including jeans, jackets, overalls, dresses, and shirts to name a few.

See the rating.

Shop Outland Denim.

Veja

Rated: Good

EU 36-46

Paris-based Veja creates ecological and fair trade footwear and accessories, manufactured in Brazil. It adopted a robust Code of Conduct to counter the risks of labour abuse and uses a high-proportion of eco-friendly materials, like organic cotton.

See the rating.

Shop Veja.

Shop Veja @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Veja @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Veja @ Outerknown.

Shop Veja @ Threads 4 Thought.

Shop Veja @ Labell-D.

Custom sizing

unspun

Rated: Great

Custom sizing

unspun is creating a denim world that reduces global carbon emissions by 1% through a zero-inventory and low waste process. unspun even lets you create your own jeans. They do so by using algorithms to digitally design and perfectly fit jeans automatically around your 3D avatar. When you shop with unspun, you choose your jean style, fabric, thread colour, rise height, and hem length. Next, you take a quick body scan to get an accurate Sims-like character of you that they can design around, et voilà: the perfect-fitting jeans of your dreams.

See the rating.

Shop unspun.

Shop unspun @ Cerqular.

A.BCH

Rated: Great
woman wearing black trousers by abch

Custom sizing

A.BCH is a Melbourne-based, Australian-made fashion label for individuals who care about garment provenance. It utilises renewable, organic, and recycled materials.

See the rating.

Shop A.BCH.

Dressarte Paris

Rated: Good

2XS-2XL (or custom)

Dressarte Paris is a custom-made clothing label that curates unique clothing for a worldwide clientele. It sources luxurious surplus and eco-friendly fabrics to create a wonderfully chic sustainable wardrobe. Its products are made to order where you can choose from existing sizes, or enter in your own measurements for a custom order that not only minimises textile waste but celebrates all sizes.

See the rating.

Shop Dressarte Paris.

Citizen Wolf

Rated: Great

Custom sizing

Citizen Wolf uses revolutionary technology to give you high-quality custom fit t-shirts. It’s so confident in its t-shirts that it guarantees they’ll be the best you’ve ever worn. After capturing your customisations, the brand hand makes each tee in Sydney from certified sustainable fabrics like cotton, hemp, and Merino wool milled in Melbourne.

See the rating.

Shop Citizen Wolf.

Petite, tall, and other ranges

SeamsFriendly

Rated: It's A Start

23 sizes + petite and tall lengths

SeamsFriendly is a womenswear line that celebrates all sizes and creates beautiful tailored pieces for all body types. It focuses on creating its clothes from natural materials, and on function and utility in its designs that is usually missed in women’s pieces (where are my pockets when I’m wearing a skirt or a dress, am I right?!).

See the rating.

Shop SeamsFriendly.

Christy Dawn

Rated: Great

XS-3XL + petite and maternity sizes

Christy Dawn is your one stop shop for gorgeous floral dresses, earthy toned loungesets, and vintage inspired skirts and trousers. Its pieces are locally sewn in Los Angeles by the team of dressmakers, and features specific size collections including Extended Sizing, Petite, and Maternity Friendly. The brand’s timeless, versatile pieces are made from a high proportion of eco-friendly materials and upcycled fabric that we know you’ll love.

See the rating.

Shop Christy Dawn.

Eileen Fisher

Rated: Good

2XS-3XL + petite sizes

Eileen Fisher creates elegant pieces for a variety of sizes. It has a dedicated petite range that covers all wardrobe items that are usually a struggle for smaller gals to find including pencil skirts, long coats, and trousers. It uses a proportion of eco-friendly materials and recycles most offcuts to minimise textile waste.

See the rating.

Shop Eileen Fisher.

Shop Eileen Fisher @ Veneka.

DL1961

Rated: It's A Start

23-34 + petite, tall, and maternity sizes

This New York based brand creates denim pieces that are not only good for the planet, but cater for all sizes. Its Tall range includes classic varieties of denim jeans, high rise white trousers, and even jumpsuits. The family owned label has created a facility that optimises the use of energy, water, and dye, and uses a vertical supply chain so it can audit and control the entire process.

See the rating.

Shop DL1961.

Sotela

Rated: Good

0-10 + petite and tall lengths

Sustainable brand Sotela does sizing a little differently. The size inclusive brand allows customers to adjust inseam lengths to fit their height from petite, regular, and tall for their jumpsuits and trousers alike. They offer adaptable pieces with 1-2 size flexibility. That’s what we love to see.

See the rating.

Shop Sotela.

Find brands that make plus size clothing with our new sizing filter

Editor's note

Feature image via Girlfriend Collective, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

This article lists brands rated "Good" and "Great" by Good On You’s comprehensive sustainability ratings system—and because highly rated size-inclusive brands are difficult to source, we may have also included "It’s a Start" brands in case they better meet your needs.

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