A big hoo-ha rolling around amongst friends on Facebook is a reminder of a 2006 tone-deaf pronouncement re women larger than size 10 from Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries that was recently reiterated by Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retail, who told Business Insider
“He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis told Business Insider. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”
But this really isn’t a surprise to someone like me, who wears between a 14 and 16 (sometimes a 12) and repeatedly finds that she cannot purchase a darned thing from trendy retailers like French Connection and All Saints, and that many designer shops , such as Tory Burch, don’t cater to her size either.
At least the surgically altered Jeffries’ is open and honest about his retailing philosophy.
Not to mention that when I worked at V.S., they had decided to phase out bra sizes over a 38D from the stores, and made them available only online.
For a culture that seems to be obsessed with large breasted women, it’s amazing that we aren’t necessarily wanted in stores unless we are of the surgically augmented variety, with tiny bodies and oversized implants a la Heidi Montag (who, according to the tabloids now “regrets” having size 32G breasts. yeah, right.)
Over and over, and supposedly, there are retail studies that show the average American woman is somewhere around a 14. Or a 12, if adjusted for vanity sizing. This is often considered “plus size.” However, the true retail Plus Size, or Women’s size 14 really does not fit certain women who are that size. Me, for instance, when I try to buy a plus size 14, it may fit well around my breasts, but will be HUGE throughout the body of the garment, and much longer than I need it to be. A size 14, or, in some cases a 12, or a Large, in the Misses’ department (the average height woman) might fit somewhat better in the waist, but still be larger in the hip and length than I want it to be. Pants are a total “forget it” as the rise is way too long and I end up with droopy crotch and saggy butt. My best pants size is a 14 petite because of the hip, rise and length, although a 14, 16, or XL petite top is hit or miss–usually they are too short even if they fit across the chest.
Apparently, we are supposed to be getting our clothing altered. But who has the time and money for alterations? Who wants to take a crummy pair of $35 or $40 pants and pay an additional $30 or $40 to have them altered so that they fit properly with no droopy crotch, no saggy butt, and not dragging on the floor?
But back to the bit about retailers’ wanting only the “cool kids” in their stores. Jeffries says that he doesn’t want Abercrombie to be a “vanilla” store that appeals to everybody. Honestly, he really doesn’t have to limit his sizes for that to happen. There are a lot of people who wouldn’t shop in his stores, primarily because of the steep price point for Chinese sweat shop garments. Still, Jeffries’ thinking is about as ironic as a culture that likes size 2 women with unnatural 32G chests. It turns out that in the average shopping mall, the majority of the stores are aimed at an under 30 customer because it is perceived that an under 30 customer will have money to spend on themselves, whereas the over 30 customer is shopping for family.
Between the negative attitudes of retailers about sizes over 10, and the under 30 target demographic of most mall retailers, is it any wonder that shoppers are flocking to online outlets, where they do not have to face rack upon rack of nothing worth purchasing.