Summary of “Plus-Size Vintage Really Is Hard to Find”

In a 2017 video on her store’s YouTube channel, Mason addresses an issue that’s top of mind for people who want to shop vintage but find their size is excluded from the usual available inventory: For as rich an array as the United States has of vintage clothing stores – with shops specializing in everything from designer wear to accessibly priced A-line dresses – the availability of vintage clothes isn’t limited by price; rather, it’s limited by size.
That is, trying to find plus-size vintage clothing is like trying to find a proverbial needle in the haystack, assuming the needle is a plus-size garment and the haystack is the overall retail market.
Even for straight-size people, finding vintage clothing above what today would generally be considered a size eight is an often unfruitful pursuit.
To better understand the lack of easily accessible plus-size vintage clothing, it’s important to examine systemic causes, not population data.
Emma McClendon, the associate curator of costume at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, also explains that within vintage fashion, there exists a “Survival bias” that is skewed toward straight-size clothing, meaning that straight-size pieces that often find their way to vintage stores and museums are valued above plus-size garments and survive to make it into the historical record.
“Within the vintage historical record, vintage stores have buyers like any other retail outlet, and in the same way there’s a bias in retail where [buyers] don’t buy certain sizes, there’s going to be that in vintage as well,” McClendon tells Racked.
The combination of survival bias and the lack of mass manufactured plus-size clothing between the 1930s and ’70s leads us to where we are today: with a deeply lacking availability of fashionable, plus-size vintage clothing relative to straight sizes.
Kate Lauter, the owner of Feng Sway vintage in Brooklyn, regularly seeks out plus-size vintage to add to her inventory, stocking up to a size 5X at any given time, and admits that much of her plus-size inventory comes from the ’80s and ’90s. The Lo Marie Vintage, which runs an Etsy shop for its vintage clothing, also attempts to stock as much plus-size vintage as possible but notes that the sizing inconsistencies that plague shoppers today are not unique to the 21st century.

The orginal article.