Cool Canadian brands embracing inclusive sizing
From performance underwear to designer workwear, the fashion labels offering expanded size ranges
The special size market for clothing in Canada is worth around $2.5 billion a year, with "plus" apparel accounting for the majority of that spend. And yet many fashion brands still don't offer merchandise in a very wide range of sizes. Even those that do often have a relatively limited selection, and relegate the majority of their special sizes ("plus", "petite" and "maternity" are the main categories) to online portals instead of devoting valuable in-store real estate to the products.
The good news is that on the other end of the spectrum, a growing number of Canadian brands are starting to embrace a more inclusive approach in terms of their size offerings, labelling choices (some are eschewing the standard designations — terms like "regular" or "plus" — in favour of simply expanding their standard apparel size range) and even core design philosophy. Whether you're on the hunt for workout bras that will fit a G cup or made-in-Canada workwear that's accessibly priced, you'll want to try these Canadian labels on for size.
This Toronto-based undergarment brand founded by entrepreneur Joanna Griffiths started off with leak-proof underwear, an Indiegogo campaign, and even an appearance on Dragon's Den. These days, Knix still offers those bestselling undies, available in sizes S to XXL, but they've also started offering other performance undergarments such as wire-free bras for sizes 32A to 42E, seamless underwear and sweat-proof t-shirts. This fall Knix also launched their high-impact Catalyst sports bra with molded cups that is designed to fit up to a size 42G.
Since launching extended apparel sizing for women a year ago, Joe Fresh went on to introduce activewear offerings in the extended 0-22 size range starting in July. Although not every design is offered in extended sizes (for now), each season's key trends and patterns are clearly represented in the merchandise mix, and every item is priced the same regardless of size. The brand's $29 active leggings and $39 denim jackets? Now available in sizes up to 22 and 3X.
Canadian designer Hayley Elsaesser has been a champion of diversity and inclusivity for years, regularly making bold casting choices for her Toronto Fashion Week runway shows and offering her colourful, custom-printed designs in a range of sizes that fit and flatter multiple body types. While she doesn't specifically offer plus or petite sizing (women's garments are simply sized from XS to XL), on her e-commerce site the same printed bathing suit might be shown on up to three models, each a distinct size and body shape.
Toronto-based First Nations designer Lesley Hampton focuses on evening and "After 5" designs, and her work has been nominated for recognition by the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards and the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. Unlike the majority of independent evening wear designers, Hampton offers her designs — handmade in small quantities at her Toronto Fashion Incubator atelier — in a relatively wide range of sizes (one sequinned dress is available from sizes XS to 4X).
Named "for the 'other 98% of women' who will never grace the cover of Vogue," this made-in-Canada designer label focuses more on proportions and body type rather than standard sizing categories. The clothes — all available in sizes XS to XXL — are fit on women with different body shapes throughout the design process, all the fabrics are washable and don't require dry cleaning, and there's an emphasis on comfort and durability. Plus, the most expensive item in the fall collection is a $240 coat, and most pieces are priced under $150!
Instead of separating their plus, tall and petite apparel into siloed categories, Montreal-based retailer Reitmans now simply offers many of their top seasonal offerings and popular classic designs in a wider range of sizes, all sortable by your specific needs. As an example, this season's versatile 3-in-1 anorak is sold in sizes XXS to 3X, while their faux-leather petite pants comes in sizes 0 to 22. Their activewear label and workwear-focused capsule, too, are available in the same size ranges.
This year, Canadian retailer Le Château launched a collaboration with Real Housewives' Roxy Earle that offers a body-positive message and inclusive sizing. The collection is a one-off for now, but what stands out is that every style — from the snake print chiffon halter gown to the floral knit top — is available in a wider range of sizes, from 0 to 22W and XXS to 3X. Plus, many of the apparel pieces are made in Canada!
Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.