Chue, a 22-year-old senior at Parsons School of Design, petitioned the dean of her school to use more plus-size mannequins. The petition, created last spring, garnered more than 8,000 signatures.
“I’m not going to design for a size I can’t relate to anymore,” Chue, who identifies as plus size, told CNNMoney. “To look for a plus-size mannequin, I’d have to go through every floor to find it. There was one size 22 in the entire school.”
Parsons said it added 17 plus-size dress forms to its collection prior to Chue’s petition. Those included a size 18 and a size 22. Chue’s petition encouraged Parsons to place additional orders, including adding a size 26.
“It’s been a very positive opportunity for us to open up the dialogue,” Fiona Dieffenbacher, BFA program director at Parsons, told CNNMoney. “We’re always encouraging our students to expand their ideas outside of the [fashion industry stereotypes].”
When Parsons broke down its current dress form sizes for CNNMoney, it said that just 4% of its 450 forms are plus size.
That percentage is disproportionate considering the dress size of the average American woman is between a 16 and 18, according to new research from Washington State University. Fashion designers tend to design for runway, where sizes average 0 to 4.
“In academia, it’s [still] rare for anyone to even think about ordering a plus size,” said Don Howard, executive director at Alvanon, a major mannequin manufacturing company. It sells forms to brands like Chanel and Walmart (WMT), as well as dozens of fashions schools.
According to Howard, many schools have just a handful of plus-size forms available, something that he’s hopeful will change in the future.
Read the full story on CNN Money