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.
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.