Rethinking Menswear: Plus Size Influencers Use Tiktok to Make Fashion More Inclusive

Body positivity has been in vogue for a while now, with more and more images of different body types advertising the clothes we buy. But whether you’re shopping on the high street or browsing the internet, when was the last time you saw menswear advertised on anyone who doesn’t have a gym-honed physique?

On TikTok, a small group of plus-size influencers are trying to make menswear more inclusive. They use platforms to search for different sizes and even break down the idea of ​​what menswear even is.

“There’s been such an eye-opening moment in the fashion world for plus-size women’s clothing … that we should be more open, we should be more creative with clothes no matter what your body shape is,” said Nikhil Kapoor, a plus-size influencer.

“But it hasn’t changed to the extent that menswear is included.”

Kapoor is a graduate student in law and science at Northwestern Law School in the United States. And in between lectures, he is also the creator of a clothing line called ‘Posh Heat’ and an accompanying TikTok account with over 226k followers.

The purpose of both is to “introduce plus size menswear and plus size clothing in general” and show examples of how people can be creative with fashion and work around limited options.

Many of Kapoor’s videos focus on recreating the looks he saw in advertisements on thinner people.

In one of their TikToks titled, ‘When Men’s Plus Size Fashion Pinterest**insp don’t go out’, Kapoor first shows the audience a picture of the model on Pinterest, then recreates it in his apartment.

In some, he films himself shopping, taking the audience into the store. And in others, she creates outfits for specific events, whether it’s a school orientation, a night out or a fancy dinner.

But in almost all of his videos, there is a general idea that he and the audience can wear cute clothes that bring them joy, regardless of what they can easily find in stores.

“[Menswear in stores usually go] to extra, extra-large. And if you’re looking for something more than that, three X’s or four X’s or five X’s, at that point you’re kind of screwed because you don’t really have a lot of options,” Kapoor told Euronews Culture.

He added that there are also limited “cute” options in the plus-size menswear sections.

Instead, when she shops in person, she usually goes straight to the plus size women’s clothing department and the “special sale section”.

“It’s practically impossible to buy your own clothes, and you’re at a point where you’re kind of forced to go to the plus-size women’s clothing department if you want regular clothing essentials.”

He claims that he bought about 90% of the clothes in his wardrobe in the women’s clothing department.

The market for plus-size fashion is growing, with experts predicting it to jump from a value of around €461 billion in 2019 to €669 billion in 2027, according to an Allied market research report.

However, according to Jacqueline Windsor, who specializes in the retail fashion industry for PwC, the plus-size womenswear market is larger than the menswear market.

This is because the womenswear market is larger than the menswear market in general, and it is not just a “plus size phenomenon”.

“In the overall clothing market, the share of women’s clothing is higher than men’s,” she said.

“I would say the same thing is true for plus-size, but there are several reasons for that. For example, women have a higher frequency of purchases per year than men.

“So there will never be equal representation on the high street. But having said that, I think the male market is underserved.”

The consequence of that imbalance is that for people like Kapoor, there aren’t many options in the menswear section.

And he’s not the only person using TikTok to try to talk about this or try to make menswear more inclusive.

Like Kapoor, Mina Gerges is a Canadian influencer who has focused much of her content on activism and plus-size fashion.

“Shopping as a plus-sized guy is always such a difficult task because you walk into a mall and there are so few sizes available for larger guys, and then the sizes available are usually uglier clothes, like plain t-shirts. Everything is simple,” Gerges told Euronews Culture.

“And if you’re like me, and you want to try new things, and you like to dress a little spicy, you’re kind of left in the dark.”

Gerges has been talking about plus-size fashion for almost a decade. In 2015, while he was a student, he posted a series of photos on Instagram in which he copied the look of the pop giant.

Since then, he has become the first major cast member of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the widely successful show in which drag queens compete for prize money.

In the show, the pit crew helps with the skits and there are models on set who are usually topless. The series ran on TV for eleven years before Mina joined it as the first major member of the pit crew.

“I think one of the most significant moments of my career was [Canada’s Drag Race],” He said.

“I’ll always remember walking into the audition room and being surrounded by 30 other men who were all very thin and were also much more muscular than me… I was the only person who had a different body type than everyone else. And I think it made me go into my head in a moment.

“I think we have such a limiting idea of ​​what it means to be confident in your body as a man. You must not be confident in your skin unless you are extremely muscular and have a six pack.

“And I think that’s such a harmful idea. And I’m working hard to redefine that…I love my body. I feel confident in it. And I don’t need a six-pack to feel that confidence.”

Gerges is also on TikTok, where he talks about plus-size men’s clothing. In several of his videos, he recreates outfits and clothes that he thinks are cute but can’t find in his size.

In one of his recent videos, he recreated Balenciaga’s famous Kim Kardashian look with a corset and mean warning tape.

In another, he recreated a pair of pants printed with an image of a Greek statue by painting a similar image on a pair of white pants.

And in others, he styles his own plus size clothes that he made.

“There is a very different type of community on TikTok compared to Instagram. I think there’s such a huge community of people on TikTok who are just like you, who are trying to figure things out and want to feel confident and look to you for advice on things,” he said.

“The community on Instagram is very diverse. On Instagram, you almost brag about the things you do.”

And like Kapoor, he also shops in the menswear and womenswear departments.

“I think the advice I have for someone who wants to shop in the menswear department but can’t find clothes that fit is to expand their idea of ​​what clothes and menswear are.”

“I think I’ve learned that clothes are just fabric. It doesn’t matter whether you buy it in the menswear department or the womenswear department.”

According to Windsor, this flexibility is beginning to be reflected in the wider apparel market. And many younger people also shop outside the gender divide in stores, blurring the idea of ​​what is and isn’t menswear or womenswear.

“I think, especially with millennials, Generation Z, Generation Alpha, it’s a little bit more fluid between how people identify and what they wear,” Windsor said.

“I was talking to a high fashion menswear aggregator. And they found that 20% of their customer base is women buying menswear for themselves.”

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