An Open Letter: Dear Tim Gunn, Let’s Make It Work

Dear Tim Gunn,

Recently, I read your post in the Huffington Post about how ridiculous it is that fashion “seems to end when you get any larger than a size 12.” I could not agree more and is most of the reason why I blog. However, I wanted to fashion this open letter to you for a few reasons…

[quote]Go to Lord and Taylor on Fifth Avenue, I think it’s the eighth floor, and it’s just a department called ‘Woman.’ It’s rather devastating. You’ve never seen such hideous clothes in your entire life. I mean, it’s simply appalling. Thank God there are no windows on that floor, because if I were a size 18, I’d throw myself right out the window [after seeing those clothes]. It’s insulting what these designers do to these women.[/quote]

While I am so grateful that you called out this ridiculousness in plus size fashion, I would like to see you advocate to do something more about this. In your words, “Make It Work.”

It is one thing to echo the frustrations that we have been virtually screaming out for years, but talking about this doesn’t do any good if we cannot leverage our access, education, and knowledge for good, yes?

Tim Gunn Project Runway

[quote]”I’ve had my own moments in front of designers when I’ve actually said, ‘You know, there’s a market here for expanding your work, and here it is,'” Gunn told Huff Po. “And frankly, there are two markets: The women who are larger than the 12, and then there are women who are petite. And most designers that I talk to have absolutely no interest in addressing either of those populations, which I find repugnant.”[/quote]

While I do appreciate you challenging designers to do and give more, but YOU sir, have the platform to really shine some light on this. Like majorly. For the segments of plus size fashion on Project Runway history have NOT been too kind in this arena, dare we visit Ven Badhu and his ignorances?

Ven Budhu Who Bullied Terri from Project Runway

Beyond the challenge of a single plus size woman, how about ALL THE MODELS be plus size. How about all the designers design for a plus size celebrity like Queen Latifah, Beth Ditto, Adele, or someone who has an awards show? How about having Fern Mallis be a judge that week? How about really engaging this community and tap into those influencers to judge? Nicolette Mason with Marie Claire?

Dear Tim Gunn- Make it Work

How about opening up Project Runway for a Plus Size season? No, for reals… I can run off at LEAST 15 indie plus size designers who would kill on this competition! EASY. Better yet, you could always check out my list of plus size designers who are making their mark in the contemporary arena.

I guess what I am saying Tim, is that while I really appreciate your words being echoed throughout the internet with your interview, unless someone of influence and passion in your position demands or advocates for some real change, it is just words.

I love you TIM. Your passion, heart, and real talk always have me smiling and I have all the respect for you! I do! Hence this letter to you… If you ever get the random chance to read this, please holla! I have ideas and ways we could “Make this Work!”

Ladies, if you echo these sentiments, please share on FB, Twitter, G+, and everywhere else you can think of!

Am I the only one who thought these thoughts when I read this post? Leave a comment and let’s talk about this.

Marie Denee
I am the owner of the Curvy Fashionista, sharing the latest trends and designers in plus size fashion, beauty, and accessories to keep you Curvy.Confident.Chic.! I am goofy, silly, playful, and a handful... but it is all in the name of fashion!
Marie Denee
Marie Denee

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Comments

  1. Kymberly Nichole says

    Very well said! Actions speak louder than words. Tim Gunn, as a major voice in the fashion industry, your influence & advocating for the plus size woman/consumer could shift the tide of the plus fashion world! I implore you to take seriously this letter from The Curvy Fashionista!

    ~Kymberly Nichole

  2. Danielle says

    I completely agree with you and applaud you on your letter. We are beautiful, sexy, women who are not going anywhere, so folk need to stop acting like we are a minority who deserve no attention and like we are a nonfactor. Our money spends green like everyone else who fits into a size 12 and below.

    • says

      I mean, it’s a wish, one that I could see going further than my dreams… when people of his influence and power can positively affect change, we are on a good path!

  3. says

    I am dubious of all these quotes I see coming from Mr. Gunn, due to his involvement with Weight Watchers and his hosting a short-lived weight loss challenge show a few years ago. I like what he has to say, but he has been saying this over and over again for years. I have to question how concerned he actually is with the plus size community. He is one of the most influential men in the business, and he certainly has all the resources and power to do something about it. Walk the walk, Tim Gunn.

  4. says

    After I had each of my two children my body (ok mostly my ass) transformed into a size 12/14 (from a size 4/6) and I was devastated from my selection in the department stores. It was appalling to me, so yes Mr.Gunn has a point here. Someone will be smart enough to fill this gap and kudos to them!

      • says

        Well, maybe this interview he did is his way of starting this off. I can see why he wouldn’t say something on his show. He’s not trying to eff up that steady paycheck. Maybe he is advocating we just can’t see it from where we sit on blogger spectator lane <~~ heehee I like that phrase!

  5. Rasha Terry says

    I love Project Runway and Tm Gunn is definitely my favorite on the show. I clapped when I read the article. Thanks Tim, thank you so much for calling out Department stores and designers! I really wish the department stores would step it up. I have to shop in advance, you know buy a few extra outfits when I don’t have any plans for them. When my friends call and say, “Girl, we’re hitting the city tonight” I know I can’t go to the store and pick something the fits great and looks good. It sucks that people who so creative and talented can’t and/or don’t want to design beautiful pieces for me. I hardly ever go to any stores any more and I do 95% of my clothing shopping online. That 5% happens when I’m with my sister in a regular size boutique and they have an oversized piece or one with great stretch. And it’s become so sad because I used to love trying on clothes when I was younger (Macy’s was my favorite dept. store, they still need some work though). So, I agree with you. Tim definitely has the platform to make something happen and I sure hope he does.

  6. Joella Duncan says

    I understand the world of advertising, and having all plus sized models might be too much of a shock and liability for some of the advertisers who back Project Runway. But I would love to see a mix of straight and plus designers on the show…more than one. And also to have a few plus models worked into the lineup so that we can see ALL of the challenges translated between straight and plus. I love that he’s speaking about it, but yes, he needs to BE about it.

  7. Curvy CEO says

    Fantastic points!!! I would *kill* to see a plus-size season of Project Runway. In fact, I kind of stopped watching a few seasons ago and usually only turn in for that one episode where they design for “real women” and everyone “freaks out” (like our friend Ven from a few seasons ago). I wonder if another network would pick up on the idea and if it would be successful? I mean, Kelly Price is coming out with her “Too Fat for Fame” talent contest…maybe we could get Oxygen or WeTV to launch a plus-size designer competition. Hrm…..I’ve seen him make these comments on multiple occasions. I think he actually does care – being a gay man, he knows what it is to be marginalized. I think we should all tweet this at Tim Gunn to see if he responds. *off to twitter*

  8. says

    *Sigh* I love Tim Gunn, and I do agree with what he is saying; however, I also agree with you and believe that he has the resources to do something about it and not just be a talking head. I can give him the benefit of the doubt, and say that he may be working on something behind the scenes that echos what he is saying here………but I doubt it, and that is sad.

    • says

      I like to err on glass half full or the oh, you just dont know side of things, trying to give someone the chance to make it work, I do hope he reads this and the comments… :)

  9. says

    I love me some Tim Gunn so much, and loved seeing this piece on HuffPo. In the past I’ve seen him on shows like The Biggest Loser helping contestants dress their now-slender bodies, and I just want to go: “WE ALL DESERVE THIS FASHION” no matter if we’ve lost weight or not. Talk about fashion inclusiveness is one thing, but action is entirely different. We have some strong advocates for plus size fashion in bloggers, indie designers, and thankfully a few mainstream publications that give us a single page (or if we’re lucky, a 2 page spread), but the leaders of fashion (not fatshion) need to come from within – pulling in these other voices and helping elevate them above the noise. Tim Gunn is in an amazing place to be able to amplify these messages, and I really hope he does.

  10. Coretha Bonner says

    Good looking out. thank you for saying something, I have noticed that plus size is becoming more and more prevalent. I too stop watching Project Runway because I didn’t see a reflection of Me.! Maybe he will read this letter and it will be brought to the attention of others.

  11. Book Swagger says

    Wow I have not watched Project Runway in a long time and I could really see a that season doing really well and getting a lot of attention!

  12. Kate Hudson says

    Love, LOVE this open letter to Tim. You have echoed what I’ve been saying inside my house watching Project Runway for years now. Why not have plus size models as a “challenge” or like what you said, an all plus size season! I have been following you on twitter and facebook for awhile now and love everything you say. I wish that there were more bloggers here in Seattle that feel the same way. I’ll do what I can to help spread the word. Nice job lady!

  13. says

    This letter is wonderful! By the time I got halfway down, your thoughts were precisely my thoughts. I would love to tune in and see them design plus size attire for a celebrity, plus size models or a whole season of plus size. I am a huge Tim Gunn fan. Hope he sees this!

  14. Donna Foreverserenity says

    Love Tim Gunn! I was totally disgusted with Ven Badhu who is the pot calling the kettle black!! I love your letter and say love it, and well-written! I see some improvements with non-mainstream and the market is there, so why can’t they have a Project Runway Plus Size season?! That would be the ultimate in encouragement and acknowledgement!

  15. Redcurlysue says

    Oh I love you and your straight talk… I work as a full time fit model in New York and am subject to so many labels thinking of doing plus or starting but not really putting dedication to it and ultimately seeing the line fold. I can never understand how they can’t see that there is truly a plus customer with serious dollars looking for real fashion. Thank you Marie for having a bold and articulate voice for us. One day I hope to walk into my department stores and NOT find the plus section sadly crammed in the corner or on a handful of four ways. Design it.. Build it.. MARKET IT.. and we will come

  16. Jacquel McDonald says

    I loved your letter. I think you are absolutely right he has the platform and he needs to make it happen.

  17. Kat Tellez says

    I really like your idea of a full season of just plus size models and designers. It just doesn’t make sense that we only see plus size once every few seasons.

  18. corrina says

    Well I have to disagree here.
    I used to be a size 18-20 and found there was a huge range of plus sized clothing available, particularly online. The fact is most designers don’t want to cater to plus size for a number of very practical and legitimate reasons.
    Firstly it’s more expensive and they have to cut their margins to make any profit. The difference in fabric usage for a size 10 compared to a size 20 can be almost double and yet size 20 people expect to pay the same as someone buying a size 10 garment. If I were a designer this would certainly turn me off – which is why there are brands who market exclusively to plus size. The garments usually have a slightly higher price point to being with, which is how the brand stays financially viable. Some larger chains like Target can afford to cater to plus size as they make up profit via sales volumes, but small designers can’t compete at that level and hence avoid the market altogether.
    The second reason is that small designers and exclusive labels are motivated by creative style and vision – it’s not entirely about catering to “markets”. Plus size clothing is limited in this area because you are dealing with bodies that just don’t look good in certain cuts, styles and fabrics. Hence why they go for the coat-hanger model that can carry off pretty much any “look” that the designer wants to impart for that season. They don’t want to be hampered by the considerations that go with designing clothing for a larger person and that’s fair enough in my opinion. Nobody should “have” to design for particular markets if they don’t want to – there are plenty of other options that do cater specifically to plus size.
    Finally (and this is just my opinion) instead of glorifying being obese I instead decided to take a realistic look at my body which was beginning to resemble a stack of ever-expanding donuts piled on top of one another. There was nothing “curvy” or “sexy” about it!! Not only that – I also realised that aside from not looking my best, being obese is also unhealthy, poses a huge variety of health and medical risks, is a burden to society later in life when those health issues start to take their toll and if you claim to have an environmental conscience like I do – is also a burden to the environment. The reasons why I was overweight were simple – I ate too much, too often, usually highly calorific foods, too many carbs, too much junk and processed food, way too much sugar and very little exercise. I went to a nutritionist, changed my diet lost 15kg and am now a much happier and healthier size 14.

    • says

      Well, we can agree to disagree here… on sooo many levels and reasons… fabric? Economies of scale… that can be fixed. Target barely touches plus size. I am not sure, from what it sounds, you are new here, because there are quite a few designers and labels who cater to the plus consumer and catering to her does not “Glorify Obesity” as you put it. No more than selling alcohol promotes alcoholism… You are right in anyone “HAVING” to design, but for a market that is vastly untapped and produces profits and profits while the mainstream sees losses upon losses each year, it is just sound business sense. ADD to this, this is almost like you saying, well, we dont HAVE to use an Asian woman or a BLACK girl, we will just stick to this here… In regards to your being overweight, For you, this may be why you were overweight, but in no way does this apply to alll plus size woman, as we all have different reasons and paths that got us here… cannot blanket.

      I ma sorry you didnt love yourself or saw yourself worthy to love while on the fuller side of plus, but on THIS blog? We celebrate you existing… building confidence, and showcasing beautiful plus size women working IT in designs, fashions, and trends on this blog…

      I know I am not for everyone… but I appreciate your comment.

      • corrina says

        I think my main point was that I never had any problem getting plus sized fashion. And pretty decent, well designed, nice plus sized fashion at that. Despite designers reluctance to cater to my size due to the reasons already mentioned (which came from the horses mouth I might add as I have a few designer friends). Maybe it’s different here in Aus – but I can’t see what the fuss about lack of plus sized clothing is.
        And as for you feeling sorry for me because I didn’t love myself enough to stay obese? ummmm … I would say that reducing my risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, depression, high blood pressure … the list goes on and on … is an act of immense self love. But yeah …. agree to disagree
        And what’s wrong with disagreeing on this blog? Do you only cater to people who agree with everything you say? If I was blatantly trolling then I would see your point, but as a person who has struggled with weight I think I’ve got some valid arguments. I have obviously investigated the subject and am not just blabbing on randomly. Everything I said comes direct from personal experience which is the point of blogging I would have thought … anyhoo *shrug* – enjoy your day

        • says

          No, I am not opposed to and have many people disagree with me in the comments, my point is in your points…. as it relates to this post and your comments…

          It bothers me that you stated a few points that arent entirely true, stating them as fact and while your weight loss ended up with a reduction in your diabetes, heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, this is NOT true for every plus size woman… especially me. I do not see you “Trolling” I wouldnt have replied if I thought so…

          For someone like you who may find it easier to find items in your size, this is not true everywhere. When it comes to making clothes, the economies of scale in pricing your clothes can be adjusted, so this here isnt all true- there are more factors here at play.

          Saying that talking about plus size fashion and confidence is glorifying obesity is where I take issue. It bothers me the way you saw yourself before and after… like you were of no value until you lost weight. It bothers me that you feel like sites like mine glorifies obesity. It bothers me that in a post that was in response to things he made a whole interview about, the only takeaways you got were costing more money to make plus- never said that was an issue, the access you have- in Australia- which is interesting, how you look at how there was “nothing “curvy” or “sexy” about it!!” It may not be for you, but it is for someone…

          These are a few of the things that rubbed me… hence me replying. I hope my clarifications helped. If not, have a good night… :)

          • Adrianne G says

            You are AWESOME Marie :) As a plus size woman who has Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease I really appreciate you pointing out that you cannot simply put a blanket statement on overweight people. We did not all gain weight due to overeating and lack of exercise. It’s something I deal with daily, the assumption that I am overweight because I pig out and am sedentary. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I work out every day for several hours. I walk an average of 7 miles a day. I do yoga, hike, swim etc etc. I eat very well-whole organic foods the majority of the time. And yet I struggle to lose weight. It has taken me FOUR years to lose 54 lbs. Many people take their bodies for granted but when you have one that doesn’t function properly you quickly begin to appreciate the complexity of the body. My disease sucks. Big time. But it has also made me stronger, resilient, appreciative of my body and proactive about my health.

            Regardless of how a person has gained weight changes nothing about the fact that we shouldn’t have to dress in crap clothing. Plus size women deserve to feel good in what they are wearing. We are not a different species. Why treat us as such? This article may be about fashion but the implications reach much further.

          • says

            Thank you soooo much for sharing madame. It really means a lot to hear from you and your story… hopefully others will pause and think twice before they have something to say…

    • says

      “Plus size clothing is limited in this area because you are dealing with bodies that just don’t look good in certain cuts, styles and fabrics.”

      Right. This is where I stopped reading. Let us all, by all means, just stick to the wrap dresses, v necks, A-line skirts, fitted shirts and the rest of the mind numbingly boring and ugly clothes that fat women are forced to wear in the name of “flattering”.

      You know, seriously? SCREW THAT. I’m going to rock my sequin knickershorts and bra tops and mini dresses and hotpants and look fucking amazing and haters can just fuck off into their horrible world of dull and hideous clothes. Life is too short for shitty clothes, and I have spent enough years hiding in baggy black bullshit.

    • PiperSnow says

      Meh. “Coat-hanger models that can carry off pretty much any ‘look'” is just the problem Tim Gunn was trying to address. You’ve missed his point completely. As a plus size petite woman, I often get complimented on keeping up with my looks, for not having given up. Do you know how insulting that is? Because that’s what Tim Gunn meant – that people seem to think that after a certain size we must NOT care about the way we look therefore can have an entire floor dedicated to hideous fashions. I mean, people that mean to compliment me, with the best of intentions, actually say things like “Oh you’re still so fashionable – how do you do it?” and “It’s so good that you haven’t let yourself go.” (Ermmmm go where?! to the crapper?).

      People don’t get it, I know my body best, I know what looks good and what doesn’t. I dress to flatter my body and it would be nice to not have to scour the internet to look for something that might fit me. There’s a Forever 21 that’s the size of a Bloomingdales and while it’s great that F21 actually started a plus line, their tiny section is such a joke. You walk through rows and floors of fashion for sizes XS-L hoping they’ll have a larger selection because it’s such a huge store, only to come to a small, tucked away area. It’s the same space as all the other sections at the smaller stores 1/4 the size. And don’t get me started on H&M and its 4 racks…

      Tim is saying designers need to recognize that women come in different body shapes, yet these fashion designers continuously send out the same cookie cutter, real life mannequins down the runway and into their photo shoots.

      “The challenge, said the former Parsons professor, is not simply to make clothes bigger, but to rethink the entire design process.”

      So is it hard to design for someone that’s petite or plus sized or is it simply undesirable thanks to society’s awesome body image?

      Furthermore, it’s not glorifying obesity. It’s having a healthy body image. It’s saying, hello world! I look good and I know it! And YES, I don’t hate myself because you think I’m too fat! I have friends who are sizes 4-8 who seriously believe they are too fat. I no longer wonder why girls one third my size still have body image issues. I think I’d more than likely wonder how they couldn’t?

      p.s. I can still out-run/out-climb/out-lift/out-swim many of my much skinnier friends and despite my size, I have maintained a healthy cholesterol, blood sugar level and blood pressure. I eat better than them, exercise more often and yet people think they are the healthier ones because of their size.

      Anyway, kudos to you for the 15kg by eating healthier and having a healthier lifestyle, I think that’s fantastic! I am working towards a healthier me as well. I’m just loving myself, at all my sizes. I wish others would too…or at least not judge me for it, ya know?

  19. AJ says

    Tell it, girl. I know there are supporters out there but less talk, more action! I love Tim Gunn — if anyone can make it work, we all know he can, right?

    I have always maintained, profit margins, blah, blah — you know who wants to look good more than anyone? Someone who ISN’T skinny. Seriously – let’s be honest. And if I’m a businessman, I’ll sell my fashions in a plus size because these ladies will pay for it. Cold truth, maybe, but truth. I don’t understand why it’s SO hard to find a dress, in a store, that doesn’t belong on my grandma.

  20. Hope Varnedoe says

    Beautifully and perfectly said Marie. Just Perfect. I love Tim Gunn and hope that he reads this letter. I really think he’ll ‘get it’ too, which makes it all the better.

  21. nicthommi says

    I have to say, you are a VERY gracious blog hostess. Really appreciate the work you do and for having such grace under fire…

  22. Adrianne says

    @MarieDenee:disqus Have you tweeted this to Tim Gunn? I just did. Maybe if we all tweet it he will read it!

  23. The Haute Coco Boutique says

    You could not have said this any better. I read the article about TIm Gunn and I posted it on my Facebook Fan page. However, after reading it I had this overwhelming feeling of “so what’s next.” Granted Plus Size fashion has come a long way, however, it still has a long way to go. There are more options available these days but they seem to be on opposite spectrums. It’s either super young and/or ill fitting or catering to the mature crowd. It makes it very difficult for me to find pieces to buy for my boutique and the woman I am trying to target. I say all this to say, thank you for not letting this issue just hit the surface. While I appreciate Tim Gunn using his platform to bring light on this issue, it is not enough. As the old saying goes, put your money where you mouth is!!!

  24. redcarpetluke says

    I’m so glad you’re spreading this particular word. As costume designer for the ABC series, Castle, I run into this problem every time I have an actress who is over a size 12. There are about 4 1/2 good outfits in the department stores for curvy girls and I run through them in about 2 episodes. I commend you for what you’re doing on this site, showing the curvy girl some styling options she’s not getting in the mainstream press or on the floor of a dept. store. You inspire creativity in others. That’s a great gift.

  25. baterista9 says

    Just a quick note: The client for Season 11, Episode 5, was Miranda Lambert. who LOOKS larger than a Misses’ 12 or 14.

    (I’ve been 12 or larger for almost 40 years, and my mother was also plus-sized for several decades.)

  26. OMG, it's Jenn says

    As a plus size blogger too, I completely agree with this and will be sharing this on twitter, plus and pin! Awesome post!

  27. Alexia @ Babies & Bacon says

    Love this post!! I think Tim Gunn’s heart is in the right place for sure but he can definitely do more as one of the most visible and vocal members of the fashion industry. I love the idea of a plus-sized season of PR or at very least SEVERAL challenges within a season that feature plus-sized models. I’m sick of fashion not taking our business seriously and largely ignoring the plus-sized market. Thanks for writing this!!

  28. Shirley D Verner says

    I love this post and it hits on something that I’ve just been curious about recently. Because I’ve been curvaceous all my life I really haven’t been into “fashion” or ” fashion mags” or leading designers. I recently watched a video on Halston which led me to other videos of other designers and the fashion industry and noticed that NONE have a girl over maybe a 6 in their shows and a woman asked Halston during an interview if “any of your girls have boobs?” No matter how you feel about it we are here to stay and will not be “guilted” into being anything different then what we are. I do hope Mr. Gunn may come across this and consider making changes, if only in a small way.

  29. MrsLoba says

    I applaud this post . It addresses the obvious . Plus -size women due exist , and we need to stop being ingnored by the fashion industry .

  30. bec215 says

    This past week, NY hosted a very special runway show – Vogue, Glamour,and Marie Claire all attended. The designer was Isabel Toledo. The show was for her collaboration with Lane Bryant. Toledo’s straight-size line is typical of high-end designers, available in sizes 2 to 8 only. I purchased one of her designs for LB – a linen spring long jacket… outstanding quality, beautiful fabric, and perfect fit. I’m utterly thrilled, because it got coverage in the New York Times and is starting to get re-posted to a lot of mass media sites. I remember when Lane Bryant meant polyester stretch pants. I’m a huge fan, as a size 20 woman, as a brand that’s re-invented itself, and created the only fashion-forward storefront for plus sizes.
    It just dawned on me why I think fashion designers never make fashion-forward designs for fat women: I think they think that if they were fat, they’d spend all their time trying to lose weight, because they’d be so ashamed of how they look, so they’d not want to buy anything they couldn’t throw out or burn when the weight ‘finally’ came off.
    It must be – because why else would someone in fashion believe ANY woman doesn’t want to be stylish? I think the fat-phobia is so deep, that it takes someone who is already accostomed to coloring outside the lines like Toledo, to make the choice to cross over. Michael Kors did so many years ago in his plus line for Macy’s, but sadly it’s devolved into season after season of peasant tops and the same wrap dresses. Toledo has a chance to blow the lid off the designer Plus market. I hope the rest of the design world is watching – including Mr. Gunn – and taking notes.

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