Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Vogue Knitting: Size matters?

Something has been eating away at me for a month or so. I didn't want to blog about it until my temper cooled. But the time has come.
It's the Editor's Letter in the winter 2009 issue of Vogue Knitting.
She chunters on about how they are a collection of women of different sizes and how they understand the need for plus sizing etc, until she gets to the meat of the matter:
"As professionals, we ask that you understand why we make our choices to size only certain silhouettes up or down. We choose those we believe will work for the greater majority of our readers, so you don’t waste time (and money) knitting a garment you will not necessarily be happy with when you’re finished. We mark our larger-size patterns (up to size 2X or 3X) with “Size +”, and if you check our pattern store on our website, you will find a search tab for large-sized patterns."

Well and good, they can publish what they like, and I accept that not every pattern is flattering to every figure. So I took a look at that issue. And looked again.
And you know what I discovered? The oh-so-sophisticated professionals at Vogue Knitting who put together that Winter issue consider the only proper shape to flatter a plus-sized woman resembles a potato sack. Dropped shoulders, boxy shapes, big ROUND bold accents above the bust and right at the hips.

Have these people ever seen Annie Modisitt's beautifully-shaped patterns? Or anything from Joan McGowan-Michael of White Lies Designs? Those designers know how to shape a garment to fit and flatter a wide range of sizes, up to and including multiple Xs. Even if you fall beyond those sizes they offer, their patterns offer lots of tips on how to shape them to YOUR form.
They use care, artistry and savvy to make certain their work pleases a wide range of women.
And they aren't alone. Countless independent designers can be found on Patternfish and Ravelry who care enough to make their patterns inclusive, not excluding.
A far cry from the lazy, cack-handed "we don't want to spend the budget to plus-size shapely knits" attitude Vogue has decided is now company policy.
I have terminated my 3 year subscription with them, with prejudice.


Kym said...

Perfectly stated, Diana. Perfectly stated.

Annie said...

Thank you for the mention - that's so kind of you!

It's especially galling to have it stated so bluntly - "Women of size, your money isn't as important to us because there aren't as many of you..."

I think they'd be amazed to learn JUST how many comfortably shaped women knit.

[The fact they pay designers badly, then use cost as an excuse to not size up patterns, is just icing on the cake.]

melissa said...

agree! i decided long ago to not resubscribe for a few reasons, one was sizing. Although I'm on the petite end, the sizing didn't always include me either :(

maybe if vogue allowed the designers to size their own patterns as they saw fit (haha), things would be a little different and complimentary to more body types.

Amy said...

Very well said! Vogue Knitting lost me years ago when I realized I'd never conform to their version of an X - I believe the pattern that turned me off had a 36" bust sized as a 2X.

Cora said...

I read the article and was very disappointed. I have had fluctuating weight for about 3 years now due to medications the doctor had me on. I fluctuate between a large and x-large size. I am a 40" bust and have noticed most designs go as hi as a 38".

I usually end up getting Vogue if they have some really cute accessories or home decor rather than fro the garments.

I usually get Interweave Knits or use sites such as Lion Brand. I am going to emailing Vogue my comments although it appears that they have difficulties listening to consumers and designers.


Lynx said...

you mean I *wasn't* imagining that? I thought I was just being dense, thinking that all the plus size were the ones that I wouldn't wear in a million years unless I were a size 1/2...

as for a size 36 bust being a 2x, that is hilarious! What anorexic peehead came up with that idea?!!!

As for there not being "as many plus size women"--- you might want to send them to look around my campus. Granted, when I was in The Springs it seemed like every woman was a 1 (I actually hugged one woman and said thank you, for being a REAL sized woman, and she was MAYBE an 18!)

How can the media whine about "the propensity of obesity in America" and then turn around and whine that "People of size are in the minority". Peeheads. Peeheads. PEEHEADS!

Ida said...

Well said. And I could not agree more. As a plus sized person who knits, I have as much right as anyone else to look fashionable. Sadly, or maybe not so sadly, it seems as though indie designers are the some of the only ones who get this. It must be noted, however, that some of them seem to be caught up in the "there's not enough of you" mentality as well. Let's hope it changes for all.

SockStar/CaroleNJ said...

Beautifully said! I did not resubscribe this year for that very reason. Guess I should actually let them why. I am addicted to Ysolda Teagues designs. She will even publish several different versions of a pattern in order to properly shape her size-ups.

Leslie said...

Dear Diana,

You obviously struck a nerve with us knitters. I to, take exception to many knitwear patterns due to their sizing and I am not one that is "out of norm" as it were. It just irritates me that the French assume everyone has short arms and torsos and bigger gals need boxes with design elements in inappropriate places. My mother designed knitwear for herself for all of the above stated reason and she always looked FABULOUS! Thanks for such a thoughtful assessment even if I could still see the steam coming out of your ears! Love ya lots!

Kym said...

Me again. I commented yesterday, and then just keep thinking about this topic. So here I am again.

One of the best things about Ravelry (in my opinion) is that you can see how various designs knit up and FIT people of all sizes and body types. Before Ravelry, there was really no way to "see" how a certain design might look on a REAL person. Now, though, with a simple click or two, you can see how fabulous (or not. . .) a design really looks in the wild."

Knitters (I would imagine that IS the audience for knitting magazines? although the editorial staff and publishers seem to be a bit confused about that. . .) are really not so interested in the styling of a model wearing a garment. What we really want to see is front view, back view, maybe some stitch detail. We want to be able to SEE the collar. We want to be able to SEE what the sleeves look like. We don't want to see a sweater modeled on a waif -- wearing about 7 layers of clothing underneath and then slung with a number of belts and shoulder bags. We want functional information, clear pictures -- and sizes for all.

We can make the decision whether we want to spend our money on a project or not. Vogue doesn't need to do it for us.

Okay. I think I'm done now.

Anonymous said...

good for you for speaking up and taking a stand by voting with your pocketbook.

Lene Andersen said...

Awesome post! I hope you let them know exactly why you cancelled your subscription!

Anonymous said...

Vogue doesn't think there are very many *women of substance* who knit? They should check out knitting get-togethers, particularly somewhere other than on the east and west coasts. In the Midwest the vast majority of knitters that I see are AT LEAST a size 16. Hmmphh. Arrogant skinny peeheads.

Mokihana said...

Good for you, Diana. I was just browsing through another knitting magazine and got fed up with the stick-thin models with facial expressions that looked like they were ill or in pain. That's supposed to encourage me to buy a pattern? I think not!

TM said...

I have read your comments and am saddened that you have completely misinterpreted what I was stating in my editor's letter. The whole point was to say that we were hearing you and that we needed to add more sizes. We are committed to doing just that. Trust me, most of our staff are not skinny model types and we are more "normal" women than most people would expect. All we are saying is that not every pattern is the right pattern to be sized up. I believe that if most of you were on our staff then you would see why that were so. It is really disheartening that you have taken my words, reflecting the thoughts of my very talented staff, and turned them into such a negative, when the whole message was to be positive and supportive. I hope you will reconsider your position.
Trisha Malcolm

TM said...

And btw - most designers do not provide patterns in multiple sizes. We employ a team of on-staff professionals to do just that.