Last weekend was the ‘event of the plus size fashion season’ – British Plus Size Fashion Weekend.
This was my first event, so coupled with the high publicity and blogger buzz surrounding the event beforehand I was super excited to be able to go. At £45 a pop for a day ticket, I chose not to purchase the whole day ticket due to funds (I had to take into account hotels and travel also), but opted for the fashion show tickets at £21 instead. As I’d still be granted access to the +Market I wasn’t overly worried about missing out, the other workshops and events didn’t seem like my cup of tea anyway.
Mum said she would come along with me, which meant we could spend some girly time together too – which is rare when you have 5 other siblings to contend with! – so it made it an extra nice weekend to look forward to.
When we arrived at the venue (which, coincidentally literally miles away from any tube station!), we were greeted with a woman who wore pout the size of Argentina and an attitude to match. Rather than greeting me, she simply looked at me and barked ‘Have you got tickets?’. Well, yes, I have… but who the fuck wants to show you after talking to me like that?!
The woman then went onto to tell me I couldn’t access any facilities or the market place as I only had tickets for the fashion show. Pfft, no – I’d been told on twitter, and via the website itself, I had access so I was getting in. After checking with what seemed her superior, we were reluctantly let into the marketplace.
We walked into a medium sized room, with around 10 stalls – a combination of clothing, accessories and cake stalls (my kinda town!). We started to make our way around the room, meeting with the various brand reps and bloggers. It had a lovely feel and atmosphere inside the room, it felt very friendly and everyone was keen to get your ideas or opinions.
After having a lengthy chat with the rep for Evans (who, coincidentally, is bloody lovely) and checking out the new lines for the Live Unlimited range we headed over to Curvissa. Curvissa had a competition on the day which entailed dressing a mannequin from a rack of clothing, if you won then you could win the outfit… so, I had to get in there!
I’d decided to do something a little different with my outfit, I imagined a lot of other bloggers would either stick to trends or try to dress the mannequin similar to something they themselves would wear, so I opted to style it for someone else. Using mum as inspiration, I styled a plus size woman in her 40’s going for lunch with family. I just loved the colour pop of the jeans, the print of the scarf was to die for and that jacket… wowzers. It’s totally on my wish list. A suit jacket with leather sleeves… Oh my, yes!
Fingers crossed I win! Mum may not get that item…
So after perusing the other stalls, grabbing some freebies and networking, it was coming up to show time. Except, everyone was in the corridor.
Why? Because there was literally nowhere else to go. Unfortunately the poor communication and organisation had left 50+ bloggers.
Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity inside a sauna, we moved upstairs to the fashion show seating. It was a free for all.and industry experts packed like a sardine into a very tight space. There was little communication, the room was hot and I could see more and more grumpy faces in the crowd. On the plus side though, the corridor party gave me time to meet some of the other bloggers who I’d been talking to and reading about – namely the lovely Becky, Beth and Becky. Lovely girls, wish we could have had more time to talk!
No named seats, no coordination of the crowd and literally every man for himself. We ended up sitting right at the back row, with shocking views. I spent most of my time standing up to see what was coming down the catwalk.
Originally advertised as a fashion show presented by Gemma Collins, we were greeted with the town mayor (who waffled for a good 15 minutes about something – I tuned out) and a woman sporting a ‘I don’t want to be a size 0’ t-shirt. Now, I’m all for empowering the plus size woman and embracing fashion diversity, but if I don’t feel thinner women have the right to judge my size then why should we have the right to judge them? This isn’t a double standard, there should be acceptance for all – rather than body shaming slimmer women and degrading ourselves to cheap remarks. What’s said to friends and in the pub is one thing, but to a global platform you should be more considerate of what you’re being recorded as saying. To the press, you’re not just representing your event but us a fashion group, plus size.
So the rest of the evening consisted of technical hitches, piercing microphone sounds and designers getting annoyed at being mismatched on the catwalk (Anna Scholz was named on the screen when another designer’s work walked down the catwalk).
Afterwards we all kind of followed the flow of traffic out the building, without any goodbyes, and just kind of… drifted.
All in all, I was extremely disappointed by the event. It had been billed as this fabulous event that had so much variety and empowerment, only to be met with poor judgement and communication. Considering a day pass was 400% more expensive than the cost of the Plus North tickets, I was expecting more bang for my buck.
I appreciate a lot of hard work, hours and planning has gone into the event but I think the organisers need to come away from this and evaluate the customer experience rather than the press attention.
Still, I managed to meet new people, buy some lovely clothes whilst in London, eat some good nosh and (most importantly) spend some quality time with the matriarch.