Why are big guys missing out on great fashion?

by Brian Lipton
James Anthony

Just because you are “larger” than the average sized man, does that mean your search for great-looking clothes has to be limited to so-called “big and tall stores” or off-price chains? The answer, says James Anthony, founder of the style platform Riot Bear, is a resounding no. Anthony stresses that “bigger dudes” do have options; the bad news, he says, is that their search for fabulous fashion is harder than it needs to be.

“I love fashion, and I love going into brick-and-mortar stores to find great clothes for my – or any – silhouette,” says Anthony. “I think whether it’s Gap or Gucci, it can be a fun adventure. But that said, there is much more demand for large sizes than most brands are willing to accommodate, and that’s really a missed opportunity. Too often, brands only carry their biggest sizes online, or they make three pieces to be spread across the entire United States. The fact is, bigger-size clothing should be better incorporated into every brand and every store. It shouldn’t be considered a novelty.”

The lack of selection, adds Anthony, leads to a vicious circle of sorts. “I truly believe if there were more options available to bigger guys, they would feel more comfortable pursuing their passion for fashion,” he says. “Too many big guys are just worried about covering up their body no matter how, and they are depriving themselves of that magic moment of finding that perfect outfit. It’s important that everyone takes the time to look better if they can, And I think it’s a big misconception that bigger guys are not interested in fashion. In fact, to me, nothing is more compelling than a big dude who’s dressed well.”

If you do want to be decked out in the latest styles, Anthony has a few tips for you. “First, I always start by asking a salesperson what is the biggest size available in the store. Sometimes, it will be there, but it just won’t be on the rack,” he says. “Also, some of the best designers in the world have oversized pieces in their collections that work perfectly for big guys, even if it’s a medium or large: Gucci, Dries van Noten, Oak, and Willy Chavarria are some of my favorites. On the online side, Asos does it really well also.”

Finally, Anthony urges fashion companies –both stores and brands – to reconsider their messaging. “While a couple of companies, like Target, have taken small steps towards our markets, companies need to do mainstream campaigns with bigger guys,” he notes. “In other areas, a lot of TV commercials use ‘bearish’ guys because they come off as friendly and cuddly and approachable. Fashion needs to be next and broaden their horizons.”

Images via Riot Bear