Inclusion Makes Good Business Sense
These pictures may explain why I am so desperate for the bridal industry to become inclusive for all brides. I was that bride, who when shopping for her own gown, was squashed into dresses like a sausage roll, you could clearly see from my body there ain't no way my curves were going to fit into a size 12 sample gown, whether you were going to leave the back of it open or not!
Working in the bridal industry and being customer-facing for a decade, has had its pros as I have actively listened to customer feedback. Gaining knowledge from this feedback combined with me being a BA qualified designer and pattern cutter, I have had the platform to be able to question suppliers manufacturers and designers approach when it comes to curvy bridal.
Here I am a size 22-24, ashamed of my body and covering up with
a full sleeve and tights.
At a size 8, I wasn't happy and suffered
complications after extreme weight loss after gastric surgery.
Surgery reversed and now, a size 16-18, 4.5 stone heavier and a
Caryn Franklin M.B.E. MSc (Psych) MBPsS
Fashion and Identity Commentator and Agent of Change
Professor of Diversity at Kingston University
After lengthy discussions with my amazing Mentor Caryn Franklin MBE about inclusion within the bridal industry, she calls me a warrior, as she sees that I am trying to make a positive difference… Not just for the customers, but within the industry as a whole.
Over the years I've met bride after bride who's been through exactly the same experience as me and I've had to listen, time after time to horror stories of how girls have been shown to the deepest darkest corners of boutiques with little or no choice of gowns available to them, they are told things like this dress doesn't come in your size, how much weight are you planning to lose?! My answer to this is, What gives anyone the right to ask a woman to lose weight to fit into a dress? The dress should work for the woman not the other way around and surly if a bride is spending a huge amount of money with you, it’s the responsibility of the consultant to provide an abundance of sizes and styles that work for EVERY body.... but then I get off my soapbox and I lose the feeling of anguish over this whole situation and I realize that not everyone has my experiences or witnessed the things I have and so I decided it’s time to educate and come together!
Why I don't discuss sizing
My focus, when I say inclusion, is on sizing because for some brides, their mental health can be at its lowest point when they come to shop for their wedding gown. So many brides feel pressured due to certain comments they read on social media. One of the most disturbing hashtags that appeared over the festive period, a time there is an increase in proposals and engagement announcements, was #looseweightgainahusband. This caused quite the stir on social media after such controversy and backlash, the account later removed the post and posted a formal apology!
I DO NOT discuss sizing with my brides and remove the metric size label from their gowns. I’m so disappointed that in 2021, that if you are above the UK average size of a 16 you will struggle to find a bridal gown that fits