I woke up this morning to my Twitter feed being full of responses to a tweet popular blogger @graceFVictory had sent. Last night she announced that Asos now do plus sizes for men. For me, that has to be the biggest news for men in a very long time. And no, I’m not including Jacamo, which is now basically a brand for every dude because they clearly had issues with their marketing. Anyway.
I decided I wanted to blog about the announcement, so of course I go to Asos.com.
I thought something as big as this news would be on their homepage. Obviously, thanks to cookies, and the fact that I’m a regular shopper, they might have tweaked what I see on the home page, so I checked out the men’s homepage. There is nothing there announcing the plus size section – could that be part of the problem? Even though the word ‘normal’ is often interpreted as being boring, normalising things that are still seen as different is the only way to bring them into our everyday narrative. By the way, I even clicked on the men’s sub menu and went through every section – the plus section isn’t there either. So I’m not sure if Asos let Gracie know the info in advance and are testing the waters with the information, and perhaps even the collection? Anyway, the best way to find the range is just to search for the word plus, then remove all the women’s options; then you’ll find 565 styles for men. Good news right? But don’t expect all of the options to be modelled by plus size guys. Once you get to page 3, all the big guys are replaced by lean men, like the guy below. Go figure.
Still, being a journo I thought I should do a tiny bit more research, so I checked both the Asos and Asos Men's Twitter feeds for the past day – again nothing. No news. I also checked out commonly used fashion and beauty industry news sites and came up with nada. In the end, all I found was an article dating back to August, announcing that Asos would be launching a plus men's range in Spring. So perhaps this is the soft launch, but I still find the lack of news in general weird.
The comments that Gracie has received on her tweet announcing the move are mostly positive – and not all because the male models they’ve chosen are attractive – women are rejoicing for their men. But the men’s comments…well, I could barely find any.
I did see one guy insinuating that the model Gracie had screenshot would be offended at being called plus-sized, and that, in fact, he was ‘wham’, and ‘muscular’. The guy really seemed to have a problem with the label. Perhaps that’s because men don’t suffer as much from labelling. When men put on weight, they buy a double or triple XL; when women put on weight, they go to the plus-section. One thing is clear, we need to hear from the men on this one. But men are rarely encouraged to talk about their bodies, unless they come with a six-pack.
It's obvious that the plus-size label, though celebrated by many female influencers, still has plenty of us, large and small, unconvinced. In the past Asos has experienced a backlash as some of its audience accused the brand of labelling average sized models as 'plus'. So the water's already murky with distrust and mis-labelling. But still, lately, offering a plus-sized range is seen as being openly body positive (although obviously, there’s the money thing, and people of all sizes need clothes), but does it only work for women? Women have worked hard to be catered to and noticed by the fashion industry, but what about the men? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we all need a label or that they are healthy – but when it comes to finding clothes that fit, it kinda helps. It's a tough one, so I'm going back to my original point; we need to normalise people who are different. For me it's the same as seeing a fellow brown face on the TV - it means I'm part of the community; I exist.
I’m going to watch this collection to see how long it sticks around. I hope it’s a sign of good things to come.