Activewear can be incredibly fatphobic — which is ironic, given how often straight-size people counsel fat bodies to "just go to the gym."
Don't believe me? In 2013, Chip Wilson, founder and then CEO of athleisure and yoga retail giant Lululemon was asked to address complaints about the brand's leggings. "Frankly some women's bodies just don't actually work for it [Lululemon pants]."
He further went on to clarify, "…it's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it." It's important to note that the aforementioned quote is just one of the many misogynistic, and frankly, outrageous statements made by the Canadian billionaire. He was asked to step away from the brands years ago, but that doesn't mean he was alone in his sentiments.
It's 2021, and there are still a ton of activewear brands that refuse to cater to one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in fashion: plus size. From hugely popular brands like Gymshark to celebrity-endorsed high-end brands like Alo Yoga, plus-size consumers are hard-pressed to find a brand that is size-inclusive at all (because if we're being honest, going up to a size 18/20 just ain't cutting it).
However, there are some amazing brands that are size-inclusive, sustainable, and cater to all types of bodies. Here are five worth checking out.
Size Range: L-7XL (12-42)
After entering the world of roller derby, Micki Krimmel founded this small, woman-owned business in 2015, making it a mission to cater solely to the plus-size customer. "We recognize that our customers have unique needs and expectations and we are fully committed to serving them and them alone," Krimmel shared over email. Superfit Hero also takes pride in fit testing every garment in the brand's full size range, as well as showcasing these clothes on a variety of body types. "We're not just showing you the hourglass model in size XL," says Krimmel. "Models come from across our size range and have diverse body types."
Size Range: 0-32
A supermodel starting an athleticwear brand doesn't seem like it would be size-inclusive, but Candice Huffine isn't your regular model, and Day/Won isn't your average activewear brand. After completing the Boston Marathon in 2016, plus-size model Huffine made it a point to start a brand that was truly size-inclusive, and Day/Won was born. Every piece of clothing comes in sizes 0-32, and the company didn't skimp on the quality, either. According the website, all garments are made from the "best performance, sweat-wicking, compression, antimicrobial fabrics and are marathon-tested," and it uses recyclable materials.
Size Range: XS-4X (2-28)
I was surprised I had never heard of this brand before — not only is Lola Getts available on its own website, but also through StitchFix and Dia & Co. Although the pieces come in size XS and up, it's a "plus-centric" company. "We make all of our style and fabric decisions based on the woman who wears size 14 or larger first," says founder Stacey Goldsetin.
Launched in 2012, Lola Getts prides itself not just on their size range, but also the time and effort they put into creating athleticwear for fat bodies. "[Other brands] think by just grading up from a size 6 fit model they can address the overall market from XS-3X," Goldstein shares. "We know this doesn't work," she continues. "Her body is completely different than a size 12-and-under woman."
Size Range: XL-6X (12/14-38/40)
Finding a brand that serves customers above a size 20 is difficult, and above a size 28, it's damn near impossible. But Juno Active, which was founded by Anne Kelly and opened in 1995 as catalog company, creates high-quality, actually wearable athletic wear up to a size 40. Yes, a size 40. Another thing that really sets Juno Active apart from other plus size activewear brands? Its variety of high-performance fabric that they create and produce in-house. This includes a swimwear fabric that's chlorine-proof and has SPF 50, along with a special stretch cotton made specifically for fat bodies that do yoga, pilates, and other low-impact movements.
Size Range: XXS-6XL (Hip Size 32″-62.5″)
If you've been on social media anytime in the past few years and happen to follow a body positive or fat creator, chances are you've seen or heard of Girlfriend Collective. The brand, founded by wife and husband team Ellie and Quang Dinh, is known for its eco-friendly, size-inclusive, bright and fun athleticwear, and has definitely become a fan favorite. The company is big on sustainability, transparency, and creating products that are truly inclusive on different body sizes and shapes. My favorite thing about GC (all the cool kids call it "GC," I promise) is the recycle program; if you send in old products, you get a $15 site credit. That's putting your money where your mouth is — or, rather, where your leggings are.
While these brands are definitely doing it right, I hope that in the near future, more companies see that fat bodies want to move — in fact, we love to move. And quality activewear, made from sustainable, practical materials, should be made to fit everyone, not just three or four sizes.
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