It seems amazing that five months into 2021, we’re only just beginning to see outdoor gear manufacturers tentatively begin making clothing for larger hikers.
I get that the logistics involved in making an expanded size range is tricky and I am sympathetic to that challenge. But, with as many as 26 per cent of adults in this country classified as clinically obese and 30 per cent considered overweight – only the United States, where many outdoor brands are based, has higher figures among English-speaking countries – it seems this is an opportunity going begging.
As we discover in our feature ‘Go big or go home’, for some larger trampers it’s a mission impossible to find clothing that fits them properly. There are many reasons why this is unacceptable. Gear manufacturers like to tout the incredible technology that goes into everything they make, from socks to tees, fleeces and raincoats. But if these garments are ill-fitting, you’re essentially paying a premium for gear that won’t provide the promised benefits. It won’t wick sweat as effectively, or keep you as warm or as cool as would a perfect-fitting garment.
There’s also the social stigma to consider. It’s not just uncomfortable if clothing bulges in the wrong places or doesn’t cover the areas it should; it can be embarrassing.
Combine uncomfortable, poorly-fitted clothing with social anxiety and you’ve got a recipe for exclusion. And that’s not something anyone needs after the stress of 2020 and the continued uncertainty we’re still facing. Everyone should be welcome and able to benefit from spending more time comfortably outdoors.
That’s why it’s great to see Kiwi and overseas brands stepping up in this regard and not only are they making more plus-sized clothing, but they’re even using plus-sized models – people who look like the trampers we see when we go hiking – in their marketing literature. It’s a step towards ensuring the outdoors is an inclusive space for all.