Selling larger sizes is big business
A 77kg woman selling extra-large women's clothes online has done thriving business since she started just over a year ago.
'Every time I post new items on the web, dozens of customers will make orders,' said Ada Lai Siu-choi, 27, who has premises in a Tsuen Wan industrial building where customers can try on the clothes.
'Our sales amount to HK$40,000 to HK$50,000 a month.
'My customers buy at least one item when they visit, and sometimes a dozen or more. It is definitely a large market. Most large-sized clothes in boutiques are old-fashioned.'
Ms Lai said her customers were aged from their teens to their 50s and some orders came from the United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. She has more than a thousand regular buyers.
'I've been fat since I was a little girl. But as long as my mother bought me lovely clothes, I thought it was OK,' she said.
But as she grew up she found it more and more difficult to choose clothes.
'There were not many choices,' she said. 'Most of them were too small for me. And I felt embarrassed when I asked for extra-large clothes in stores. This is one of the reasons I decided to start this business.'
Winnie Ip Chi-ling, 24, who weighs about 90kg, echoed her view.
'Sometimes when I am choosing clothes, the shopkeeper will giggle behind my back,' she said. 'That's really rude.'
Ms Ip said there used to be many boutiques near the Argyle Centre in Mong Kok selling big sizes, but most had closed down.
'In Korea and Japan there are chain stores selling large-sized clothes, but there are none in Hong Kong,' she said.
'I have tried to keep fit for fitting into smaller and more stylish clothes but I finally failed at that. It is quite disappointing.'
A feminist researcher echoed her complaints.
'Shops now sell tight clothes as a trend. Even Giordano and Bossini chains' L-size clothes are small,' Lee Wai-yee said. 'Many women who are not so fat at all cannot find clothes.'
The tight clothing trend was a side effect of the slimming culture, which started about a decade ago, said Ms Lee, of the Society for the Study of Sexualities and Sex-pol, which studies gender issues.
'Girls lose weight merely to fit into small or XS clothes. They feel proud if they can wear these sizes,' she said. She blames fashion designers and clothes makers for the problem.
'Fashion designers and manufacturers shouldn't just think slim is beautiful, and fat is ugly. Fat clothes can be beautiful. They should go back to the original days when we had the normal sizes,' Ms Lee said.