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Why I Started at Store for Plus-Size Vintage Clothing

In this op-ed, Berriez vintage shop owner Emma Zack details her experience shopping secondhand clothing as plus-size woman, and why she started an account that sells vintage clothing curvy people are often told not to wear.

I was 12 years old when I was on the floor of a macy's dressing room, one of those carpeted fitting rooms with the harsh overhead fluorescent lighting and three full-length mirrors that make you cringe from every angle. My mom walked in and found me bawling in the corner. Her arm was weighed down by the pile of potential bat dresses we both knew weren't going to zip all the way up. I still remember that day, 15 years later.

I had been curvy since I was 10 years old, when I was already wearing grown-up bras to match my grown-up hips, arms, and legs. Back then, shopping was usually a traumatic experience: hours of looking through clothing was going to fit my mom or whatever friend I was with.

Over the years, I have realized that my story is far from unique. Even though 67% of women in the United States are size 14 and up, “plus-size” women account only for 1 to 2% of the bodies represented in mainstream media. Certainly, there was a noticeable rise in the representation of plus-size folks in the fashion industry, including models Paloma Elsesser, Ashley Graham, Precious Lee, and Tess Holliday gracing the covers of magazines and posing in worldwide campaigns. Still, in the world of vintage and secondhand fashion, representation and options for, bodies sizes eight and up isn't quite there yet. Like the fashion industry in general, the vintage market tends to favor a more petite body type.

As Ive grown older, I learned to love my body and fashion that accentuates it. I discovered vintage clothing through my grandmother, who would have been a modern-day size 12 or 14. I would love to be channeled my grandmother's energy each time I wore one of them. Wearing her clothing was the gateway into my thrifting obsession, which began when I moved to Los Angeles for college. I realized I had a better chance of finding something at thrift shop that fit than at most retail shops.

A few years ago, I discovered I could shop for vintage clothing directly from Instagram. That is, until I started scrolling. I remember sitting in my apartment for hours looking through what felt like hundreds of Instagram shops and never finding anything in my size. I was 13 years old when I was 13 years old. Occasionally, I find a shop selling something "oversized" on its page (still shown on a thin model), and I buy it immediately. Even if I was not particularly thrilled about the piece, I was just excited there was something in my size. Or I know thought. The clothes usually didn't fit, and none of them were returnable.

After amassing piles of ill-fitting vintage clothes from dozens of online stores, I decided to start reselling the pieces that didn't work for my body. My friend Vanessa and I set up a clothing rack in my living room, inventoried everything, came up with a name for my potential shop, and took photos of me modeling the clothing in my backyard. I thought the pictures to some friends and asked for their thoughts. Their genuine interest and excitement led to the creation of my online vintage shop, Berriez (formerly known as Fruity Looms). In November, I started having small photo shoots with more of my friends on my backyard. It was time to hang out, play dress up, be creative, and have fun. And within a few months, I didn't know how to contact me if they could model, or if I could have them for my own shoots.

It didn´t take long to me according to Bloomberg, “The plus-size retail apparel market represents a $ 20 billion opportunity, with growth outpacing the overall market 17 to 7% in 2016, and a consumer base starved for quality clothing.” But in an article about why “fashion disruptors” such as Everlane don't carry options above size XL, to reporter for Vox wrote, "fashion-innovation-plus-size-lacking”}” href=”https://www.vox.com/2017/12/20/16797310/fashion-innovation-plus-size-lacking” rel=”noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank”>For fat women in the U.S., it’s fast fashion or almost nothing. ”As of late, the fashion industry is shifting its focus toward fashion-finally-got-sustainable-2019″}” href=”https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/has-fashion-finally-got-sustainable-2019″ rel=”noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank”>sustainability and fashion-cant-be-ignored.html”}” href=”https://www.thecut.com/2017/08/plus-size-fashion-cant-be-ignored.html” rel=”noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank”>inclusivity, so why shouldn't people have more clothing options, more specifically, vintage and secondhand?

. (tagsToTranslate) Plus Size (t) plus-size fashion (t) vintage

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