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Women Are Using This Hashtag To Change Plus-Size Fashion

Curvily's Sarah Chiwaya encourages social media users to help change the clothing industry.

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This is Sarah Chiwaya. She's pretty awesome (and it's not just that iridescent envelope clutch she's holding, either).

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On her blog Curvily, Sarah writes about embracing your shape, shopping on budget, the latest developments in plus-size brands, and her own totally droolworthy fashion finds.

She's also the creator of #PlusSizePlease, a movement she hopes will inspire designers to become more inclusive by expanding their size ranges.

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While it's estimated that about 65% of American women are a 14 or above, as of 2010, only 17% of clothing for purchase was available above a 12.

I would buy everything from @DollsKill.com if they came in plus sizes #plussizeplease #movement #wouldificould

Recently, Sarah spoke to BuzzFeed Life about the origin of #PlusSizePlease, how shoppers are putting it to use, and why designers really need to step their game up.

"The hashtag #plussizeplease was actually one I used spontaneously about a month before I started the hashtag movement," Sarah says.

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"I was at Saks for a fashion event and I saw a perforated leather midi skirt from Tibi that was calling my name, but did not come in my size. I still loved the look of it, and snapped a pic for Instagram. When a follower asked if it came in plus, I responded 'Sadly, no :( #plussizeplease.'"

"From the moment I first typed #plussizeplease, I started brainstorming about how it could be a great way to reach out to designers and labels directly."

#PlusSizePlease This top is too cute!! http://t.co/jlQulghtXn

Sarah says she's used #PlusSizePlease to reach out to brands including Zara, Helmut Lang, and Diane Von Furstenberg, and that she's seen other users contact those brands "as well as a plethora of others."

@Curvily @HotTopic #plussizeplease @Disney collector here who 'd love ur feminine Disney sports bras. Im a 3x

She says Hot Topic responded positively to one group's requests by extending their size range for Malificent apparel, and that indie brands like Canada's Encircled have caught on, too. Now, Sarah says, her Encircled top is a staple.

Asked about the staggering shortage of resources for a potential customer base of more than 3/5 of American women, Sarah replies, "Adding plus is not as simple as just adding inches to a garment in most cases."

.@nyandcompany I would buy this jumpsuit right now if it came in my size. #plussizeplease

"A company expanding to plus will need at least one more fit model to make sure the scaling corresponds to actual body measurements and proportions," she says. "They might need a new technical designer too. However, these types of expenditures are hardly insurmountable for most larger brands, so the real reason has to lie elsewhere."

Sarah points out, as the financial gains for large brands extending their sizes would outweigh the costs, money isn't the only issue at play.

I want this buttercup yellow but I am too big and only allowed tan or black. #plussizeplease

"I know [there's an] idea that having plus sizes will drag your brand down," she says, "make it somehow less aspirational." Still, she's heartened by lines like Hackwith Design House's designs for Mei Smith, Cory Lynn Calter's collection for Gwynnie Bee, and Lela Rose's collaboration with Lane Bryant.

"And [Lela Rose's] beautiful core label is still just as coveted," Sarah adds.

Of course, Sarah says, there are clothiers that would prefer to cherrypick their customers' qualities.

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"Some mainstream brands like Michael Kors try to have it both ways by having a full plus size line but refusing to publicize it," she says. "Basically, they want plus-size money but don't want to be associated with fatties."

"One of the points I wanted to drive home with the hashtag is that the plus-size market is just as diverse as the straight size one," she says. "We all have our own personal styles, and they vary widely."

@CharmingCharlie has the cutest clothes ever. Too bad they don't want to take my money. #plussizeplease

"Plus size customers have been shown to buy more per purchase than any other consumer base; that is because the demand is there, and so underserved [...] Despite the disappointing news about the fat-shaming cartoons in the Lilly Pulitzer offices, the recent instant sell out of the Lilly Pulitzer plus sizes in the Target collaboration is proof that the demand is there."

"Apparel is a business," Sarah says. "I don't expect [companies] to add sizes out of the kindness of their hearts. I do want them to know it doesn't make financial sense to ignore the majority of the market."

H&M, ich mag dich nicht. #plussizeplease

Even as retailers like Cosabella, Eloquii, and Fame & Partners respond to customers by extending their respective size ranges, Sarah encourages fashionistas on social media to keep making their voices heard.

"#Plussizeplease works best when you use it and use it often," she says.

I would be one happy girl if @Anthropologie made this in a size 24. #plussizeplease

"Let the stores know the money they are losing by stopping their size range below the national average. Let them know the demand is there, and that women who wear plus will spend if they get a chance.

"Offer good merchandise and treat plus-size customers with the same respect you do smaller sizes, and people will buy."

What brand(s) would you most like to see extend their size range?

i rarely buy anything over $20, but if this vera wang dress at kohl's were a 3X i'd do it #plussizeplease

A request for comment from Michael Kors regarding advertising strategies was not immediately returned.

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