Over the past 10 years, clothing ranges offered by high street stores have come a long way. We have stores such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Boden and Coast to name a few, offering a range of petite, tall and maternity clothing as well as the usual standard size. They are by no means perfect as the ranges are limited, however there is still a reasonable amount of choice available. But here we are in 2017 and in the ever growing Asian fashion industry, there is almost no movement towards appreciating that we come in different shapes and sizes. This blog post focuses on petite clothing, as this is something that has personal relevance to me, but I am fully aware that the problem is not exclusive to the petite woman.
When looking for a decent Asian/Indian outfit, I still find myself hitting a brick wall. The chances of me finding something that fits in length straight off the shelf is pretty much zero. I appreciate that clothing can be altered to fit, but for me (being just 5 ft) it means losing pretty much half the embroidery (no I’m not exaggerating) as most pieces seem to be made for girls well above even the average height. Yes, made to measure is the alternative option, but this quite often means up to a 2 month wait from ordering to receiving the item, so you can’t just pop out a couple of weeks before an event and pick something up.
There are so many fabulous designers out there and it’s such a shame that there’s a whole group of people that they just aren’t catering for. I see advertisements for sample sales which I would love to attend but almost feel that it would be a waste of my time, as there is unlikely to be anything that will fit and I just find it a bit embarrassing to try on oversized outfits, which make me look like a child trying on her mums clothes. I’m 31 years old for goodness sake and a mother myself! So ultimately we even miss out on grabbing a bargain when the sales are on! The process of selecting the perfect outfit is one that we should enjoy and not feel anxious about. After all, we all want to look and feel a million dollars. I have embraced my height and feel comfortable but it has taken me a long time to get to this point.
At school I was always the shortest in the class, well shortest in the year to be honest, which initially wasn’t a problem. But then I became a teenager and my friends were keeping up with the latest trends which was a bit more difficult for me until I discovered the world of Topshop and Miss Selfridge petites range.
There has been little evolution in this way in the Asian/Indian fashion industry. My last experience was absolutely shocking. I had made an appointment with a well known designer and was looking forward to meeting him/his team to select the perfect outfit for a close family wedding. However, once he realised I wasn’t the bride and was a relative, his behaviour was appalling. He had no real interest in showing me any of his pieces and when I was looking through and considering trying on a couple, he made remarks such as “it’s made for a 6 foot model so will drown you.” I was shocked! The only other experience I had of meeting a designer was when I went to see Sati Takhar, who was an absolute gem. As it turns out, I didn’t order from him because my circumstances changed, but he was very friendly and enthusiastic. Without me even saying anything he understood my body frame and gave me ideas of what would work best for me. This is what I was expecting from this other designer but it was far from what I received. I felt quite upset after leaving his boutique so sent a private message giving constructive feedback so that he would have some insight into my experience and so that other people wouldn’t be left feeling the same. The response I received was……no not an apology, but blocking me from their Facebook page. Very classy hey!
How amazing would it be for us petite girls to be able to walk into a designer boutique and pick up an outfit which isn’t drowning us? To take that stunning piece into the fitting room and come out walking straight and feeling beautiful and confident, rather than tip toeing on the 6 inch heels we are already wearing and holding up drapes of material so we don’t trip over and land flat on our faces?!
Imagine being able to buy a designer piece off the shelf or have minor adjustments made to an outfit rather than complete “reconstructive surgery” to an outfit we actually like. I appreciate that many designers only carry one off pieces so may not want to double up on the same outfit by having it in a “standard” and petite size. But surely having a complete petite range which is in line with current fashion trends shouldn’t be such a distant thought?
I contacted a couple of designers to try to get a better understanding of why there isn’t specifically a petite range of clothing in the Asian/Indian fashion industry, however I didn’t get any replies. I did however get an optimistic response from an up and coming designer, who will be stocking a petite range, which will be more limited than the standard range, but this most definitely is a promising start. I can’t wait to get my hands on pieces from the exciting Ria Kashyap collection!
Here’s hoping that this is the start of some great things to come for us petite girls and that the mindset of designers changes so they appreciate that perfection comes in all shapes and sizes.