Wednesday, 20 February 2013

BPSFW - The Main Event in Review

The British Plus Size Fashion Weekend occurred on the 15th and 16th February. I have written a post about the first day - A Press Day - and you can see that post HERE.

International Fashionistas!! Photo via The Marcy Minute on Twitter

BPSFW: The Main Event:

I don't know where to start, so let's just jump right in... The day was OKAY. I paid £35 for an all day ticket (I used the Valentines  discount code, so most punters spent £45) and the best I can do is say the day was OKAY. I didn't leave excited and ultimately was a bit disappointed. There is work to be done - and while I'll support the event next year - I hope the organisers can take on board the feedback they'll be getting from many, many people.

Let me be up front and say that right after the BPSFW was announced, I reached out to the organisers about some of the way they were approaching things here in the UK. I'm sure that without meaning to, the event (from inception) alienated a lot of the UK blogging community; I wrote to the BPSFW to tell them that. I don't believe in public slanging matches, so all I'll say is that I was honest about what people were thinking/feeling and I tried to remain as diplomatic as possible. Now. The blogging community here in the UK is a pretty big community. We are a strong community. We ultimately all support each other - BUT - we don't always get along. That's important to note… You see, we don't all blog for the same reasons and we don't all have the same approach to blogging - but even where we disagree - we bloggers ultimately end up supporting one another. The BPSFW, in alienating so many bloggers on inception - didn't get the grass-roots style support it needed to make this a REALLY successful event. The event DID get a lot of positive UK press - and kudos to them for getting that attention - but I think the event needed a lot more help on the ground. Indeed, as evidenced by my own experience at Plus London as well as reports from Plus North - those events are successful not only because of the amazing organisers and sponsors - but because of how many bloggers are willing to positively contribute on the ground.

I had an all day ticket for the BPSFW event, but as I didn't have items to swap, had no interest in the Styling Master Class and have no aspirations to be a model, I arrived in time to scope out the Plus Market as well as attend the Panel Discussion and Fashion Show. You can find out more on the events I skipped - HERE.

BPSFW / LPSFW - Models
Models lookin' awesome at the BPSFW

On arrival, I received an entry wrist band - but no other information. I saw some people with a program (which - let's face it, I probably paid for in my entry fee) but as I didn't get one, I kind of sheepishly made my way down the hall to the "Market Place". This was pretty good. I could see all the designers showcasing their fashions and I managed to catch up with the people who I'd met the day before. To be honest - that room (which was really just a bunch of awesome fashiony men and women showing off brilliant, different and innovative clothing) was my highlight. It was not a big room - but it allowed me to meet people, catch up with brands, touch different fabrics and most of all, look at garments from newly discovered designers. This was a good area!

BPSFW Panel Discussion.

Well, I really liked the people on the Panel. Anna Scholz, Jessica Kane and Velvet d'Amour were my personal highlights as they're people I respect and are relevant to my fashion interests. One of the organisers, Rianne, did a good job hosting the event and Amy Shillinglaw had some fascinating things to say about models and the fashion industry. BUT - the acoustics, placement of speakers and our location in the room meant that many of us couldn't follow the discussion, words echoed about and there seemed to be a lack of proper direction. To be fair, some interesting points were brought up and I particularly liked where Velvet stated that "mainstream media does not answer our [plus size] call for fashion so we generate that media ourselves and that's amazing". That IS amazing.

The panel started late which meant it ran short. The discussion went okay but as I mentioned, because of the poor acoustics in the room I couldn't feel involved in what was going on. It was disappointing actually, because of everything on the agenda - the Panel Discussion was what I'd been looking forward to the most.

Right after the Panel - something totally RAD did happen though...

BPSFW / LPSFW Velvet d'Amour
xxx Velvet xxx

I got to officially meet Velvet. Now my dear readers, I have a heart and mind that swoons for Velvet's magazine Volup2. The magazine is the most interesting magazine I've read in forever and it allows for a diverse and edgy look at women and people. It is fresh, uninhibited and celebrates small women, big women, older women, young women - ALL women. The magazine is based online and has just celebrated it's first anniversary - I can't recommend it enough as I find it inspirational, confronting, inclusive and empowering. One of the HIGHLIGHTS of my weekend was being able to tell Velvet that in person. AMAZING.

Once the Panel was done, the place was abuzz with the impending fashion show… The venue suddenly felt packed and there was a zing of anticipation in the air. While waiting for the start, I bumped into a few different designers which surprised me, so I asked - "Why aren't you upstairs with your models, getting ready?". I was told by these designers that they weren't allowed upstairs to help prepare and they weren't allowed backstage during the show… I was like - WHAT? These were designers who were there to showcase their brands. 

Of all the moments - this was THEIR moment… Surely?

BPSFW / LPSFW - Models
This is a shot from The Guardian pre Fashion Show. Apparently PRESS were allowed backstage...

The BPSFW Fashion Show

Okay. It started late. Boringly late. Like, so late that myself and the people sitting around me were almost "over it" before it even started. This should tell you all something... I am a PLUS FASHION BLOGGER and this was a PLUS FASHION SHOW.  


But then it started.

From the get go - the hosting of the fashion show was dire. I don't believe in exclusion in fashion. I know it exists, because heck - as a fat woman - I EXPERIENCE it… but I don't believe in excluding women in reverse. Skinny isn't a dirty word and thin women aren't people I plan to ridicule/ignore/insult in a type of reverse exclusion. This blog talks about plus fashion because its what I wear - but I have plenty of smaller sized readers - and indeed - all of my closest (non blogging) female friends are smaller sized women who always support me… I believe in INCLUSION and diversity. Also? I am amazing because I am amazing. I am not amazing BECAUSE I am fat or because DESPITE being fat I take my place in the world of fashion - I am amazing just because I AM AMAZING. That's true for ALL women. For all people, really.

The host of the runway show was wearing a shirt that said "I don't want to be a size zero" and started the evening by saying, "Big sisters in the house - make some noise!… All the skinny women in the house - go eat some food". What a bad couple of sentences and what a negative way to start something that was supposed to be so positive. It coloured the whole night in an "us" vs "them" tone and it made me really question what the philosophy of the Official British Plus Size Fashion Weekend was. I can't tell if the weekend was about seeking empowerment (even through misguided statements as regards thin vs fat women) or about fashion. I was hoping the weekend would be about fashion - which in itself would lead to empowerment and feelings of self and body confidence. But I don't know…

As a runway show - the fashion being showcased was just amazing. The designers should feel proud of the clothing they sent down the catwalk - as well as the reaction from people. It was seriously stunning and diverse.

BPSFW / LPSFW - Pauline et Julie

I loved the variety of items we saw and the models who wore the clothes for us. The cool thing about the fashion show - just like Curves In Couture - was the differences in all the designers.

BPSFW / LPSFW - Simply Be

We had Simply Be, Curvissa, Scarlett and Jo and Live Unlimited representing High Street Fashion and then Pauline et Julie, Syreeta Badu and OneOne3 representing something a little more diverse. It was great to see Lucabella, Swimsuits for All and Gets on the catwalk - all brands I'm not familiar with - and then also see Anna Scholz, Carolyn Draper and Cult Of California.

BPSFW / LPSFW - Carolyn Draper

The show started late, was far too long and certainly had some unfortunate (awkward) pauses, but the fashion we saw was truly amazing and certainly makes me feel excited for our Plus Size fashion world.

Anna Scholz. SWOON.

I would suggest that next year - the BPSFW should break it up - have two or even THREE catwalk shows across TWO FULL days for a really buzzing, amazing fashion WEEKEND… I also think that ALL the designers need to take a bow at the end of their collections and should be allowed to use their own music, style their own girls and be backstage…

The fact that OneOne3 (who sent AMAZING pieces down the catwalk) tweeted DURING their show that they weren't happy with how their models were being styled is embarrassing. They also repeated this to me, right after the catwalk concluded. Just. Not. Great.


I have to congratulate the BPSFW for getting so many amazing brands to come along, as well as selling out their tickets and gaining some momentum for Plus Fashion. I think that for a first effort they did okay - but certainly - if the plan is to hold this event annually, the organisers need to invest genuine time in the plus community that already exists here in the UK and not try and re-invent it. I think the philosophy of the event needs to be discussed and should focus on the positive and amazing nature of plus size fashion - rather than simply seeming to say "we're curvy and amazing" so "fuck you" to the straight sized fashion industry… In empowering ourselves, we should not be slating other (and in this case thinner) women - that's what bullies do and it is repulsive. I think the brands and designers who come along need to be treated with more respect and be told "thank you" for the contribution they make to our little (but flourishing), corner of fashion. The organisers also need to focus more on the people who pay to attend - I certainly didn't have a day worth £35 and therby feel for those  attendees who paid full price.

This event could have been great - but it really wasn't. I do think that if the existing online UK Plus community had been approached differently from the offset - this event would've had a lot of positive momentum - as well as a lot more help… I know this as a fact actually - as the momentum and positivity surrounding accessible events like Plus London and Plus North is audible.

BPSFW / LPSFW Bloggers
I got to see some Awesome Bloggers at the BPSFW - a highlight.

I was grateful to meet designers and see some of my fellow bloggers and fashion friends. I'm further grateful for a Plus Industry where at a single event we can mix High Street brands like Simply Be, with international teams like Lucabella and then also High End Designers like Anna Scholz. That IS great and should let everyone know that the potential for where the British Plus Size Fashion Weekend could go next, is amazing...

BPSFW LPSFW Jen Wilder Cult of California
Meeting Jen Wilder of Cult of California was a weekend highlight.

Lastly, I loved that on Sunday, quite separately from BPSFW, myself and a bunch of International bloggers went into town together and then bumped into other BPSFW participants in New Look… In fact - that's what I liked. I LIKED that the BPSFW was an excuse for fashionistas from all over the world to come together and talk fashion, look at fashion and wear fashion… But everything else was a let down and certainly - not worth the price of admission. So, as a purely social experience - this gets a nice thumbs up - but for almost everything else - not so much - and certainly I expected a lot more. Let's keep our fingers crossed for next year...

Watch this space!

Em. x.

Majority of photos reposted from The Guardian UK, Anna Scholz photo via Vogue Curvy
First photo via The Marcy Minute... LAST photo via Cult Of California.


  1. Fantastic post but such a shame that BPSFW didn't live up to expectations. I've read a few posts like this now.

    I suppose it could be down to teething problems, what with it being the first year but still, by the sounds of it a lot of the problems were totally avoidable (the sounds at the discussion and not allowing designers backstage at their own show) and should have been sorted out long before the public were allowed anywhere near.

    The whole 'skinny bashing' thing is embarrassing and totally misrepresents the vast majority of the plus size community, I wonder if the organisers had words with her?

    1. It IS a shame. I AM putting it down to teething problems, I have to do that in order to have faith that the event will improve next year. You're completely right too - the "skinny bashing" element is totally misrepresentative of the majority of our community and really put a dampener on the event for me and many others. As I say - fingers crossed for next year... x.

  2. I read this three times and even though I wasn't there, I totally get where you're coming from, alarm bells going off left and right. Designers not curating their own shows? Simpel audio faul ups? Not cool.

    1. It makes me glad that you'll be there for the NEXT one. x.

  3. Amazing Post Em, you said so many things I couldn't vocalise, (probably because I felt like a little hurt puppy after it all, sad but true) I'm grateful for the fashion and the chance to see the blogging babes. X x

    1. Thank you hon. I think the points you made in your post were bang on too. I think the more it's vocalised the better - and ultimately I'm glad that we can all find the positives in there... x.

  4. The idea of organizing a plus size fashion week is great but I think there should be size diversity during the 'normal' Fashion week. Plus models and straight size models on the catwalk. Why creating a seperate event when all we plus women want is to be normal and to fit in and wear the same clothes as our skinny sisters?

    1. Els, I would love to see some "heavier" models on the catwalk in LFW too.

  5. This is a superb post and the first full post I'm reading about the weekend. I didn't get to go but was hoping it was going to be a superfantastic positive event that left you on a high. I guess it wasn't. I am AMAZED that designers were not allowed to style their own outfits. This surely is an integral part of the designer portraying their vision to the audience. I really dislike the "them" and "us" mentality that is prevalent in some areas of plus size fashion and its a shame that this theme was evident at the event. I hope the organisers really take on board some of the feedback and make next years event better. £45 is a lot to spend and the general feeling I'm getting is that it just was not worth it. Shame.

    1. I was hoping for a lot too - and will keep my fingers crossed for next year. Here's hoping for progress...

  6. Great post and I'm sorry it wasn't more enjoyable or as thought-out as you would expect. Personally I knew nothing about it and I'm a plus-size blogger (!) but then I feel quite out of the loop on the majority of events and things to be honest. I think the blogging world can at times become quite excluding like that (it's the same circle covering the same things) even if the individual bloggers within those circles don't personally think that way.

    1. With my work - I fall out of that loop a lot too. Lately, I've been back on twitter more and I think those interactions are pretty important, for me, to know what's going on. That's actually changed so much from when I started blogging - as we used to have to always visit sites and always leave comments with each other's posts to connect. I think twitter has replaced that now!

  7. I have told you already but your post was great. Honest and you offered constructive criticism. There are always a few glitches when you organize something for the first time but things like no area to sit, no drinks/food,... are a bit shameful.

    1. Thank you Val. It's interesting - because I ate before I arrived and had already planned for food when I got home - the lack of food didn't effect me. Likewise, the lack of seating as I wasn't there for the whole day... Thinking on it in hindsight and after seeing posts from girls who were there for ages though, these are GLARING errors. I also think that having the women use Men's Toilets - at what is supposed to be a pretty prestigious FASHION event - is ridiculous! x.

  8. Hey Just caught this post and had to send you a kiss because you always make my day and I so very much appreciate yr kind words with regaurds to VOLUP2! Thank you Thank you!!! Velvet


Hi there! Thank you for leaving your post. Due to some blatantly obvious spammers I have had to turned comment moderation back on with word captcha for older posts. Hopefully the spammers will bugger off and I can take some of the settings back to normal quickly! Thank you and smooches! Em. x