That’s right. We plus size gals don’t need our own “special” plus size collection. We just want the same options as our slimmer sisters, just in our size.
It’s totally my opinion here, but I think that a lot of retailers are getting plus size all wrong. As of today’s Google search, 67% of American women wear a size 14 or higher. That’s HUGE buying power. So, why don’t we have 67% of the clothing options?
When I found out that White House Black Market was offering plus sizes, I was thrilled! No, beyond thrilled! I was walking past a store, and I noticed a tiny sign in the corner of their window display, “Plus Sizes Available.” I rushed into the store, took a look around, and after finding nothing above a size 16, I was told that plus sizes were only available online. Bummer. I was even more disappointed after I checked out their website. First, not one thing on their website homepage indicated that anything was available in plus. Their petite offerings were prominently displayed, but no mention of plus. I had to search for the plus section through the dropdown menu, all the way at the bottom. Once I found it, I was completely underwhelmed with the selection. I found it to be only boring basics, and oversized flowy pieces. Every fabulous piece of clothing I loved from their collection was not available in plus. As a consumer, it was a super disappointing experience, and the fact that it’s online only, and not even mentioned on the homepage, made me feel unwanted as a customer.
I’ve seen this many times before. Plenty of retailers are quick to offer a limited selection of plus sizes at the urging of plus size potential customers, and then quickly stop because they feel that the plus size pieces performed poorly. Then, all kinds of articles come out like “Are Plus Size Women the Problem with Plus Size Fashion?” or “Plus Size Women Don’t Spend Enough on Clothing for Designers to Make Options in their Size” and thus continues the endless cycle of the plus size fashion problem.
Here’s the thing- if, as a brand you’re getting tagged in #PlusSizePlease posts, that means that plus size ladies are already a fan of your brand. We’re not asking for a frumped-up version of your aesthetic, we just want the SAME PIECES, in our size. And, this isn’t just my opinion, I have proof.
I own two plus size stores, a bridal shop and a clothing boutique. You know what doesn’t sell? Frumpy plus size collections. You know what does sell? My fab designers who just so happen to offer their fierce designs also in plus. In my bridal shop, we don’t even carry plus size bridal lines. They just don’t sell. We carry gorgeous designer gowns, just in plus sizes. You know why? Because a plus size bride wants to look like a bride, not a “plus size” bride. It’s the same in my boutique too. My customers just want to be on trend and feel great in their purchase.
Plus size women aren’t a different species. We don’t need special garments to hide, whatever it is we’re supposed to be hiding.
I’d also like to address the idea that plus size women don’t spend any money on their clothes. I’ll acknowledge that this was a legit thing in the past, but times have changed and it’s simply no longer true. My couture bridal gowns outsell my moderate bridal gowns 2 to 1, and my brides spend more on average than most other mid-range independent bridal shops. There’s lots of lower priced options available in the shop, but they still purchase the gown they fall in love with. Of all the plus size women I work with, half of them would spend whatever it takes to get the fashion they want, and while the other half might not prioritize that same budget for clothing, they’d gladly pay for the perfect piece. No, not everyone is spending hundreds or thousands a month on clothing, but many of us are.
If you’re a retailer, and you’ve tried a plus collection and then canned it, maybe it’s time to take a second look. I’ll be the first to admit that as a retailer, doing plus sizes well can be tricky. There are fit issues, and the extra financial investment of producing more sizes, additional marketing, etc. I get it, but there’s also real growth opportunity too. The best part is that you can take already tried-and-true styles, and just extend the size range. I can tell you from my 15 years of working in plus size fashion, with only a few exceptions, if a piece is good in a straight size, it’s going to be good in plus.
To all my plus size babes out there, show some love to the brands that love you back! I have so much admiration and respect to the former Limited employees who refused to let the ELOQUII brand die. And a shout out to LOFT for not only adding plus sizes but featuring them (ON PLUS MODELS!!!) prominently on the homepage, AND now offering the collection in select stores. I hope this is a wildly successful business move, and I hope it spreads to all LOFT locations soon.
Finally, if any of this resonates with you, PLEASE SHARE. And have your friends share. There is strength in numbers, and we CAN make an impact. If 67% of the market is asking for a change, someone is bound to listen.