Breaking On the Curve:

From the Editor: Plus Sizes, Pay Like You Weigh! (Part 1)

fashionweek 211x246 From the Editor: Plus Sizes, Pay Like You Weigh! (Part 1)

Since I created my first plus size related website back in 2004 thousands of blogs and websites have since popped up. Most  of these recently developed sites are fashion related. If you Google “Plus Size Fashion Blog” over 20 million  website results are returned. I can remember when it was less than 5,000.  Its been some what of a Curvy Fashion Revolution over the last 8 years.  Maybe its just me but doesn’t it seem like every day a new website or blog is created  dedicated to plus size fashion? If you start to surf through the over 20 million websites you’ll notice one constant message; Plus Size women are demanding more clothing choices and more fashionable clothing. Blog after blog complains about the lack of support for plus size women in the fashion industry. Most of those blogs exist for that sole reason. With the outpour of complaints have the retail industry actually listened? I think not!

The Numbers Game

The fashion business is about looking good and money. So let’s talk numbers. According to the 2006 census, United States,  has over 300 million people with 155 million being female. Recent studies also tells us more than 62% of  american women today are a size 12 and above. Thats about 96 million plus size women. Wait, think for a second, it means for every 10 women that pass you in the mall  at least 6 are considered “plus size”.  All puns aside thats a very big number that you can’t clothingrack 245x246 From the Editor: Plus Sizes, Pay Like You Weigh! (Part 1)help but notice. 96 million and all but only 5 actual plus size retail chains exist; Ashley Stewart, the Avenue, Lane Bryant, Torrid, and Catherine’s. Combined those 5 brands have over 1200 retail stores to serve 96 million plus size women! If you do the math its about one store for every 80,000 women. I’m pretty sure that is the reason why I can never find anything in my size. Yes, we can now shop H &M (sometimes), Kmart, Macy’s, Target, and other stores but its just 5 solely dedicated to plus size with a selection mediocre at best. But I’ll get to that in part two.

Here is the kicker combined  it’s over 12,000 retail stores  dedicated to the 59 million women under a size 12. Actually its a much larger number i’m sure. I just got tired of researching after I hit 12,000. Did I forget to mention when you search “fashion blogs” over 120 million results are returned? I know I’m reinventing the wheel right now. I’m sure the entire plus size community is well aware we are very over looked in retail. I just wanted to give you hard numbers on exactly how MUCH the plus size woman is over looked.  In this economy the retail industry is bleeding. We can blame the economy on the  recession, Obama, Bush, Al Qaeda, and tons of other excuses. But when you are only marketing to less than 40% of women, its really no one to blame but yourself.   I can’t make it any clearer to you how valuable the plus size woman’s dollars is to the retail market. Keep that thought in the back of your mind as I explore the reasons why plus size women are not catered to.

Excuses and ASSumptions

For sake of argument and embarrassment, I’m choosing to not disclose company names with the following statements. Most of the below statements were disclosed to me in personal conversations not as VP of  Blah inc. Here are the top 5 excuses I have heard first hand from plus size and straight size retail execs.

 

1. Plus Size women say they want one thing and go do another.                 


 

  • Come on now! This is not a plus size problem that is a WOMAN problem. Women are the most indecisive creatures. But once we make up our mind, they are MADE.  I have changed the title of this post twice since I started writing, but that is beside the point buddy.

2. Plus Size women do not spend money


 

  • Honestly, I have heard this complaint several times from both straight and plus size execs. At first I thought maybe they did  have a point. How often do you see a plus size girl rocking a $500 dress? But one day it hit me after receiving a email from one of  our readers pouring her heart out about not feeling “pretty, beautiful, or worthy”.  Plus size women don’t spend money on clothing as much as straight size women because the industry for years have told them “You are not worthy of beautiful clothes,  you can’t be a model, your body is not attractive, we don’t want to see you, and you are not beautiful”. The media have chipped away at women’s positive body image for years. After the plus size woman have been publicly rejected and humiliated,what exactly did you expect? Shoes, clothes, purses, and jewelry are extensions of a woman. Men have football, we have Donna Karen. If the woman does NOT feel beautiful then she is not  happily shopping for beautiful clothes. If she looks in the mirror and hates her self then why would she care how she dresses her self? I firmly believe you can tell a woman’s confidence level by simply looking into her closet. Plus size women not spending as much as straight size women is a problem the retail industry created their selves by excluding us from marketing, modeling, and obviously their business plan. Side note: I don’t know a plus size woman who doesn’t spend 1000s of dollars a year on Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Coach, or Prada bags  but not on designer dresses. I’ll talk about why that is in part 2.

 3. Plus Size women say they want high end fashion but do not buy it when its’ made available.        


 

  • Did you know Marc Jacobs is developing a plus size line? In 2010, when Jacob’s camp released info regarding a plus line most of  the plus size community was in the dark. No one was contacted in the plus community, no plus  models were called in for a  shoot, no ad campaign, and most plus size blogs didn’t even pick up the story until a month later. Its pretty typical of high end designers every so often to create a plus line (usually white label) and make NO attempt to promote it within the plus size community. If it wasn’t for Macy’s we probably wouldn’t even know about Michael Kors plus line. The lines are created with no real promo behind it, usually not even listed on the designer main website, and pretty much treated like the designer’s dirty little secret.  And before the morning after even comes the line is gone like a cheap trick in the night.  How can we buy something that we don’t know exist?  This is not rocket science here. Ok, so two skinny girls and an Astronaut walk into a bar…Ahh never mind  Its simple you market to your target audience and if they like it they buy it. Retail 101, class dismissed.

4. It’s very hard to mass manufacture clothes to fit plus size women. They come in all shapes and sizes with no master fit.


 

  • Seriously? 23 From the Editor: Plus Sizes, Pay Like You Weigh! (Part 1). Poor you for having to spend so much time  and energy figuring out such a conundrum thats worth  96 million women’s pocket books </ends sarcasm>.  Jinkes! I may have found a clue to help you.  Plus size retailers (and even Nordstorms) have all figured out plus size women come in 4  specific body types. Pear, Hourglass, Apple, and upside down Pear.  It’s entire sizing charts made off these 4 forms. Personally, I am a avid online shopper and can testify the sizing charts that use these shapes are true to form fit. See someone has already done the work for you. Now its just up to you to have your design team study these shapes and bring home the bacon. I deserve a Scooby snack don’t I?

 

5.  Some designers just do not want to see their clothing on a plus size body.


  • Now this sounds like a personal problem to me. There are no emotions in business. Business is about dollars and cents right? I was told by a insider that Macy’s fastest growing department is Junior Plus, by 20% at that. For the first time ever, over thanksgiving weekend, I received the most gorgeous Macy’s Woman (plus) mailer advertising their plus clothing. Obviously Macy’s got the memo and wants to cash out.  At the end of the day designers have to ask themselves a serious question; Are they trying to make friends or make money?  Broke and going out of business people don’t have any friends. Chapter 11 ain’t sexy.

5a. By high end designers making plus size clothes its’ like they are encouraging obesity 

  • What I eat don’t make you….. Let me get this straight. Plus size women having more clothing choices is going to make them get fatter? This is coming from the same industry who had  the anorexia and bulimia crisis in the 80-90s. How responsible of you to think of us fat girls.

Pay Like You Weigh

  • We could talk about this all day but what it all boils down to is that Plus Size women carry heavy weight in cash. piggy bank 8881 From the Editor: Plus Sizes, Pay Like You Weigh! (Part 1)Plus size women is the new cash cow and its time to take advantage of that. Pay Like You Weigh! The fashion industry is not listening to your blogs and care less what you say on twitter. But I’m 100% sure using the power of  the plus size dollar will get their attention. I strongly encourage all women a size 12 and over to use the influence of their dollar. Stop buying clothing that you really don’t like  just because we only have 5 retail options. Support the retailers, e-tailers, and designers that makes stylish clothing! Buy only what you truly find stylish.  If you have to walk out the store empty handed so be it and move on to the next one. Make it clear to the industry what you will and will not buy. You do NOT have to buy the flower Moo-Moo thats 30%  off, its YOUR money! Supply and Demand. DEMAND what you want and retailers will have NO choice but to Supply it. Have a straight size store you like but don’t carry plus sizes? TELL THEM! Walk in and talk to the manager and/or send a email. If you want the fashion industry to invest in plus size then give them a reason, like 96 million reasons! I would love to hear your feed back. Next week I’ll post part 2. Just my thoughts, From the Editor, KeKe Dillard

 

About KeKe Simot

Digital Marketing Expert (15yrs+). Editor of CURVY Magazine. Award Winning Producer. Geek. Stylenista.

15 comments

  1. Exactly! Give me something worth spending my money on and I WILL!! So many places I see throw anything on racks and because they were in plus sizes I’m supposed to grab it up? Regardles of the fact it looks like something out of a dollar store and you want me pay $100 for that shirt? I’m plus size YES, but I love style , a fitting cut and the up to date designs not just a shirt out of the most material you had and because it says plus size I should be happy you addressed my need at all!! NO THANKS!! Ill definately walk out empty handed.

  2. I can appreciate this article Thanku!! :) I must say the truth does hurt

  3. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  4. Well put! Our money is the same as those size 10 & under! Its a shame we have to search the net for countless hrs for clothes that should be in the store. Plus size fashion has moved up, but we still have a ways to go!

  5. I def agree. In my experience especially as a overweight teenager in the 90′s my shopping experience was terrible. I never can shop in the same stores as my friends and all the plus size stores tend to target an older crowd. As an adult I am still disappointed with stores like Lane bryant and Avenue because all their fashions are bland and out of the loop. Rainbows is ok but some if not most are cheaply made and lack in the structure of forming a shape. I have to commend Forever 21 who has been my best friend for the last year, as they have extended their sizes and now have forever21+ line. Its great fashion and affordable. What I will say is that after years of frustrated shopping it has taken me a while to learn how to dress my figure. As far as plus size women not spending money. This is true only when the clothes are ugly and undesirable. I can not tell u how many times I walk into a store and am directed to the plus section and i feel like I’m shopping in the grandma section. Buzz Kill!!!! Why not make the same clothes and just extend the sizes??? We have to do better.

  6. Love, Love, Love this article. The statistics and evidence backing your theories make this a good argument for The plight of curvy women. Thank you!

  7. Very well written! I agree 100%. I’m really looking forward to part 2!

  8. my issue is not supporting its the price.

  9. Thank You Keke. This is a very looked over topic and this needs to be discussed in an open forum like this because there are so many sides to look at. I personally feel betrayed by designers as a whole because I am a young plus sized female and I am not pleased with the clothing options that are available to me. I know that most plus sized woman feel the same, that we have 2 choices, #1. Go to shop and find cute outfits plotting out what will look great as a combination only to find out that the item/s are not available in your size or option #2. Shop at one of the very (very) few plus sized stores that have clothing that’s so high necked and long that you can’t figure out if your shopping for clothing or bedding. Plus sized or not we are still woman and we want to look like and feel sexy so to end this I would have to say that more designers high end, department stores etc need to provide more options for the plus sized market, if it was available to us then we could, and would purchase those things. What I eat or don’t eat should not be of their concern just make cute clothing to fit me then I can give you my money. More woman now days are plus sized and we don’t have enough product for such a “big” market. Make it cute we want to give you our money I promise. We can help boost the economy, were the majority now !

  10. 'Jamila Punch'it McCormick

    This has been a dilemma for me.

  11. Hi, Although I have been stuck in Law Enforcement for the last 17+ years, My desire is to dress well as also see other men dress well. I feel so frustrated seeing how overpriced and rediculous the clothes are for us. I’m 6’3″ and weigh 400 pds. Since I don’t know what or who you know, Can you help me get into this line of business?????

  12. Damn right! If you go to any typical clothing chain, you’ll find a small corner for plus sizes, and the clothes are LAME! The rest of the store is literally FILLED with straight sizes and the seasons hottest fashions. Makes me sooo angry >_<

  13. Kathy Langenstein Berlin

    Yeah, well, I fell for that crap for years. No longer. I love dresses and I feed my dress addiction. And my purse addiction. And my shoe addiction. Why? Because when I walk out in my dress and someone, man or woman, compliments me, I am more confident and happy. It may be cliche to say, but my best accessory, every time, is that smile I am wearing because I feel good. Also, honestly, men that do not overlook big women are a gift from God. Just saying…

  14. here in Québec, Canada, we have a reality show for designers…Last season, the designers had for once the choice the choose the model they wanted (they work with the same models all tall and thin…but one of them have boobs and a round bottom…). The last designer ( a girl…) have to be with the ”shubby one” (!?!). She was upset. She even tell the model to put something to restreing her waist! The model get upset too! Never been told she was ”too fat”! So the model refuse to put the designer cloth for the walk…The designer had to excuse herself…What do you think of that? THEY ARE DESIGNER WHO DIDN’T WANT ”PLUS SIZE” (even, in that case the model just have a littles curves!).

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