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Plus size shopping: Here’s where curvy Malaysians buy stylish clothes in KL

Plus size shopping: Here’s where curvy Malaysians buy stylish clothes in KL

Fashion fix for the fuller form

Text: Joanna Pinto


Image: Instagram/@sapphiresplendour
Image: Instagram/@issyong
Image: Instagram/@nalisaliamin
Image: Annatasha Saifol/@monkeydisease

Not sure where to get (stylish) plus size clothes in KL? Get recommendations from these curvy ladies

Sure, retail therapy is a fun pastime for most of us but when you can't find anything that fits quite right, that's where the fun stops. Unfortunately, finding size-inclusive clothing is a dilemma many curvy or plus-sized women face in Kuala Lumpur. So, to help ease the shopping struggles of our voluptuous sisters, we asked a few stylish plus size ladies to share how they strategically shop for the clothes they love and more importantly, fit their body type.

 

Ratnadevi Manokaran
IG: @sapphiresplendour 
Occupation: Co-owner of The Curve Cult

 

What size do you wear and what do you love most about being plus size?

Ratna (R): "I wear a UK24-26 and I'm just happy to be in my skin and wear whatever I want. I enjoy being and moving in my body. I used to constantly want to exist in a different body, so, to be able to finally embrace my own is really pivotal for me."

 

What struggles do you face when you shop for clothes in KL?

R: "The limitations of shopping physically in a brick and mortar store. I know there are a few brands now that are "more size inclusive" but they tend to stop at a UK20-22 or they just don't have the whole plus size range and instead, only have it available online. I don't understand the disconnect; if you do have plus size clothing then why only put up a few options in store? As for lingerie, I haven't bought any from a physical store for the last 15 years. I used to buy them off eBay or get my friends travelling overseas to buy them for me. For the past five years, I've been buying them online. That said, things are slowly changing and some companies are extending their size ranges. For bras, I know Xixili has sizes that run up to a 44G/H."

 

 

Where do you shop online and offline? Any insider tips for plus size shopping?

R: "I get a bulk of my clothing from my own line—I co-own a plus size clothing store called The Curve Cult. We don't have a store in Malaysia yet but we have a brick and mortar store in Singapore. If I need something that our store does not carry, I'd sometimes shop on Asos. The most important thing I've learnt is to buy in anticipation of an event. If you know you'll need a special outfit, buy it ahead of time because we do not have the privilege to go into any store and get 1) something that fits, and 2) something we like."

 

What do you think of the portrayal of plus-sized women in Malaysia?

R: "I think things have really changed for the better. With the growing knowledge of body positivity, there's so much more awareness of plus size bodies and although I still do face some tough situations in public, it's not as bad as it was about 15 to 20 years ago. There's still room for improvement, like reducing the stigma against fat people; but we will get there as long as people are open to hearing different perspectives and want to challenge the societal constructs of beauty."

 


What changes do you wish to see in the fashion and retail industry in the near future?

R: "The inclusion of marginalised bodies—plus size, queer, trans, differently-abled bodies—that's not just as a token or for marketing purposes; but where collections are properly thought out with us in mind. What we see in the media challenges how we view our beauty standards so including us in campaigns and fashion shows is a must. And for retail, I wish to see more brick and mortar stores where plus size people can go in and pick out an outfit that they are happy to be seen in."

 

Who is your plus size #girlcrush?

R: "I have so many! All my friends are my girl crushes: @ranidhaschainey, @curvesbecomeher, @nazirahashari and @ushsh."

 

 

Isabelle Yong
IG: @issyong
Occupation: Interior Design Consultant

 

What size do you wear and what do you love most about being plus size?

Isabelle (I): "Being a size 16 allows me to view the world and people through a different lens. Finding beauty that shines from within is what makes a person beautiful; instead of judging someone based on their appearance at first glance."

 

What struggles do you face when you shop for clothes in KL?

I: "Not being able to find current in-trend styles that fit my body type. Plus, always having to either size up or squeeze into an outfit, and feeling uncomfortable for the sake of fashion. Sometimes when I shop, I just can't fit into anything and when I do find clothes I like, there is a vast difference in price point, thus making plus size a more expensive body type to shop for."

 

 

Where do you shop online and offline? Any insider tips for plus size shopping?

I: "My go-to online store has to be Pretty Little Thing as they provide a more flattering cut and have a wider range of sizes. A little tip with online shopping: watch the videos, check out what the fabric and material is, and see how it sits on the model. With that you can always tell the stretch and leeway it gives; the same goes to shopping IRL. I always pay attention to the cut of the clothes. Don't be discouraged as most fast fashion stores do not have the best cut for curvier women but I have to say that Monki does a good job at hitting this mark. Shopping in departmental stores like Parkson or Isetan allows me to discover new brands as well.

 

What do you think of the portrayal of plus-sized women in Malaysia?

I: "Recently I feel that the society of plus-sized women is slowly evolving but sadly not the majority. It is difficult for the opinion to change due to the lack of education within the Asian community. After all, in Asian culture, "petite" is the word often used to describe what beauty is. Therefore, the portrayal of plus-sized women is poor and often described as undesirable because visually, we are not the stereotypical definition of beauty in Asia."

 

 

What changes do you wish to see in the fashion and retail industry in the near future?

I: "I would love to see high fashion and haute couture embrace creating clothes more suited to the fuller form. As we all know, the rest will follow suit as this will set the tone for future businesses and fashion retailers. Having plus-sized women in more advertisements and fashion magazines is what I hope to see in the future too."

 

Who is your plus size #girlcrush?

I: "My plus size #girlcrush has to be Iskra Lawrence and Dana Patterson."

 

 

Nalisa Amin
IG: @nalisaliamin
Occupation: Freelance model

 

What size do you wear and what do you love most about being plus size?

Nalisa (N): "I usually wear a UK12 for fitted tops and UK14-16 for bottoms depending on the cutting as I've wider hips. For dresses or jumpsuits, I fit into a UK14. It took me a while to love my body but now I seeing how my body looks in a bodycon skirt or a fitted flared pant—it hugs my butt nicely, giving me a naturally-curvy figure."

 

What struggles do you face when you shop for clothes in KL?

N: "The lack of sizes offered and how a lot of independent boutiques tend to cater more towards China-based sizes, which is always smaller than the regular sizes sold by international high street brands. The term "free size" is often abused too since in reality, it only fits up to a size M. Even though I'm considered 'small fat', it's still difficult for me and other larger women to support local brands because they don't cater to sizes beyond size L or their plus size section does not flatter actual plus size bodies. It's quite disappointing knowing they don't put much thought to expand their creativity on catering to plus size bodies."

 

 

Where do you shop online and offline? Any insider tips for plus size shopping?

N: "Know your measurements! It helps a lot especially when you shop online, which is where I spend most of my money. I usually shop on Zalora, Instagram boutiques and Shopee as they're starting to have bigger sizes now and expanding their plus size category, which I appreciate. Zalora also has a free 'return and refund/exchange' policy, which comes in handy if I want to return a garment that doesn't fit. As for offline stores, I shop at H&M, Forever21 and Monki but my go-to is always bundle stores because they have good quality clothes at cheap prices. Though many of the sizes are not accurate, I can always send them to the tailor to have them altered."

 

What do you think of the portrayal of plus-sized women in Malaysia?

N: "It could be better. Even though we're slowly starting to destigmatise plus size bodies by including them in the media and campaigns in a more positive tone, I do notice that many are just jumping on the bandwagon because it's trendy right now. I would like to see consistency of inclusivity and diversity when the trend dies down too because unfortunately, with our Asian mentality, women who are not slim—what more when they're plus size—are still portrayed as 'disgusting' or 'gross'. The beauty standard isn't going to diversify if they only jump into it when it's trendy. The portrayal needs to be consistent to change people's perception."

 

 

What changes do you wish to see in the fashion and retail industry in the near future?

N: "More plus size representation and inclusion of plus size bodies as their customers, that's all. We would pay good money on clothes that actually fit us. Brands like Savage X Fenty and Fashion Nova are doing so well because they're tapping on different types of women or diverse sizes and actually sell fashionable clothes in a lot of sizes."

 

Who is your plus size #girlcrush?

N: "It's hard for me to just choose one because so many women have inspired me to love my body so I'm going to name my top 3, which are Barbie Ferreira, Paloma Elsesser and Nadia Aboulhosn."

 

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