Lane Bryant
Lane Bryant

Plus-sized fashion has come a long way since Lane Bryant was founded in the early 1900s.

The brand — which once advertised “slenderizing” clothing for “stout” woman — has transformed into one of the leaders in advertising that puts body positivity front and center.

Lane Bryant’s transformation is driven by a shifting culture and growing customer base. The plus-sized clothing market is estimated to exceed $20 billion. According to a Lane Bryant investor presentation from early 2017, the brand believes that figure could reach $40 billion to $50 billion.

“There is, to put it crudely, an insane amount of money just sitting on the table, and it seems, finally, that there are some savvy entrepreneurs out there ready to shrug off fashion’s inherent snobbery and claim a piece of it,” Ashley C. Ford recently wrote in New York Magazine.

Here’s how Lane Bryant’s transformation shows just how much the definition of plus-sized has changed over the last century.

For a long time, the plus-size advertising was all about “slenderizing,” like this 1936 ad for Lane Bryant signed “Slenderizingly Yours.

For a long time, the plus-size advertising was all about
New Vintage Lady

All Lane Bryant scans are from The Vintage Lady, a fantastic blog on vintage sewing, with a focus on plus-sized fashion.

“Proud of having been in business for thirty-five years — and proud of having sold wearing apparel to so many millions of stout women during those thirty-five years,” founder Lane Bryant wrote in a note to shoppers in 1935.

New Vintage Lady

“Whatever your figure problem, if you’re STOUT, I have the style for you,” reads another Lane Bryant note.