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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Vintage clothing for plus bodies, by plus bodies

Online thrift shops Fat Chance Vintage and Kitsch District look outside of straight sizes and binaries to provide inclusive, accessible second-hand clothing.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 3, 2019 at 4:39 PM

  • @fat.chance.vintage

For Olivia Weir—the curatorial eye behind Instagram account Fat Chance Vintage—a love of thrift that saw her skipping high school to hit up Value Village became more than a hobby with the speed of a Nike swoosh. She held a 1980s bomber from the brand in a thrift shop, and, as she recalls, "It was not my style but I had to buy it. Someone had hand-stitched a cross onto the lapel, and that moment told me the story of who owned it."

Since May, when Weir posted that jacket on her Instagram and a bidding war erupted in the comments, she's has been part of a mini-wave of local Instagram accounts helping fat folks thread up with affordable, fashionable options in a range of sizes—all posted on the app and sold through DMs.

"When I started, I wrote myself a letter: I always wanted to be inclusive and accessible—like buying clothes from friends and peers, not some unattainable cool," Weir explains. "Being a plus retailer means being an inclusive retailer and being inclusive means good price points."

Most of her inventory will run you under $20.

"When I go to a thrift store, I don't want something that looks like I went to Pennington's—I don't want that built-in-cardigan top," Weir says. "I shop a lot in the men's section because sizes are bigger, things are more unique and there's more natural fibres."

At this point, Weir can hit up to five thrift stores a day with a shopping routine so down-pat it borders on an art. (A tip? "Don't waste your time on the plus bins at Frenchy's: It's all just variations on the same thing.")

While Fat Chance has quickly made a name for itself with a steady selection of jeans, shorts and retro tees that start at size 12, fellow account Kitsch District has also been amassing likes and sales for things like zip-up pleather minis and vintage-y, cowboy-looking button downs at negotiable prices (OBO—"or best offer"—is the closing line of each item description).

As founder Fox Parker puts it, "My mission statement is to be for every body, everyone and every wallet." With pithy item descriptions resting outside the gender binary, it's common for a Kitsch District item to put the supposed gender in suggestive quotes—a simple effort that speaks to the inclusion Parker is creating.

"It started out as a hobby for me, but I think over years of following queer businesses and seeing the needs of queer people, the needs of people not shopping in straight sizes, seeing more curated thrift would bother me," Parker explains. "Seeing sizes extra-small to medium for $30—that's what I see constantly—that's not accessible to a lot of people, especially people I'm around. We're not rich in any sense of the word. We need to prioritize people who don't have access to this stuff."

Parker adds that they're happy to see customers message to talk about accessibility, to ask to try things on and to barter: "Ultimately what I want to do, not just as a business but as a person, is make people comfortable."

On separate phone interviews, each reseller gushes about the other, talking about the "hole in the market"—both in the world of curated thrift and Halifax fashion at large—that's finally being filled, as Weir puts it, "for plus bodies by plus bodies." You can follow along with the revolution, one post at a time, at @fat.chance.vintage and @kitsch.district.

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