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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Retailers and Designers Continue to Ignore Real Women

Real women are not size zero and everyone knows it! The Mail online reports that "Nearly half of UK women are a dress size 16 or above" but researchers Mintel report that "larger" women tell them much more still needs to be done to provide clothes that look good on a more rounded frame.

According to the Mail online "The average size for a British woman is a curvy 16". As this equates to about 11m women it is no surprise that providing clothing for them is proving the fastest growing market for the fashion chains worth £3.8 billion a year.

The 45% growth in the value of sales of larger clothes over the last 5 years compares to a rise of just 15% across women's fashions so it is clear that demand is strong.

With this in mind I visited some designer stores in London and found the following: Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, Moschino, Prada and Versace - maximum dress size is 12. Alexander McQueen stock 14 in some styles but the sales assistant says they come up so small that she advised buying a size larger. They don't stock 16 so no luck there.

Donna Karen and Gucci make an effort by going to 14 but "Hurrah" for Chanel who do stock size 16 and on some occasions 18.

So what is the real reason that designers don't go above a size 12? According to Robin Lewis, co-author of "The New Rules of Retail" commenting on the sizing policy of Abercrombie and Fitch (who don't sell trousers above a US size 10, UK 12) to Ellen DeGeneres "they just don't want larger women shopping in the store". The appalled host exclaimed "Since when was something over a size 10 plus-size?"

Recently Lululemon said that clothes above size 12 were not part of their business strategy and there is an almost sinister move here to equate a woman's dress size to her financial and social status. In an ironic reversal of history "thin" and "rich" go together so in their prejudiced minds only thin people can afford their clothes. They need to get out more!

This is also true of some well known retailers. In 2009 Selfridges stopped selling anything above a size 16 and got rid of those brands that do cater for those sizes. So if "larger" women want good quality clothing where do they go? Until recently Jaeger was a good bet but they have lost their way and although they stock larger sizes I defy you to find anything you would want to buy. My advice would be to go online to Scandinavian stores (and occasionally the US).

So what do you think? Are these brand designers right to protect their prestigious images in this way or should they wake up and manufacture for the real world?

Written by Erica Vilkauls: Director Jem Retail Consultants.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely think they should wake up and manufacture for real women. After reading your thought-provoking article the other day, I realised that I was looking out for sizing when I visited my nearest shopping mall the following day. I very much agree that we are not all size 0s and that clothes need to be manufactured for all shapes and sizes. Your article certainly opened up my eyes to an issue that doesn't seem to get much air time anywhere at the moment!