So recently there has been quite a deserved hullabaloo over a very crude comment made by Lane Bryant’s twitterer about a shirt by the fat positive indie designer definatalie.
The apology by Lane Bryant’s VP of Marketing, Jay Dunn
The following is the comment I left on the apology site (more properly formatted). Let me know if you have any other points for plus size retailers to add to my own! (or comments/critiques on the points I make) Also, what is your take on this issue? Do you accept LB’s apology?
Thank you for issuing this apology. I’m sorry to say, however, that I’m not entirely convinced it will make a difference in Lane Bryant’s selection, model choices, and prices, which are the three biggest problems I see with the company as it stands. There is a whole new world of fatshion — plus size fashion — opening up to fat people (especially fat women) right now. And Lane Bryant is going to have to make steps forward to correct problems like the aforementioned in order to stay ahead of the curve (no pun).
Here’s a short list of main points I hope LB addresses in the future, if they wish to retain my (and other fat, empowered women’s) business:
1. CONCEPT: Fat, empowered women do not necessarily want to look thinner, or to hide historically-determined ‘problem areas’ like stomach, arms, and thighs.
2. ENGINEERING: The ‘nested doll’ style of patterning does NOT work. It doesn’t matter if your fit model is a size 18W instead of a size 6. I’m a 24/26W and your necklines fall far too low, your armholes are way too big, the waists don’t fall right — and I know I’m not the only one. Women of larger sizes have many different kinds of fits relative to one another. A different kind of pattern-making needs to find a plus-size median fit, rather than relying on old fashioned-nesting.
3. MODELS: I want to see how my clothes will fit on a body like my own, not the body I ostensibly ‘want’ to be (thinner). Basically, you’re selling women a bait-and-switch, and fat women are getting tired of it. You’re riding the fading idea that fat women hate their bodies and don’t consider other fat bodies beautiful or attractive. Sure, you may have some marketing research saying that you’ll make X more if you have thinner rather than fatter models, but for how long? The tide is turning — more and more fat women I talk to (and certainly in the size acceptance community) will not buy clothing unless they have some idea how it will look on them. Why do you think fatshion blogs are so popular? Because fatshion bloggers are basically taking up the slack where the catalogs fall short — they are modeling the clothes in a body much more like ours. Don’t you think that having your own fatshion blog — i.e., using fatter models in your catalog — will have the same effect? If not, then don’t be surprised when you start losing more and more customers to places that do use fatter models.
4. POSITIVITY: No lip service, no mistakes. You should be LEADING the cause for size acceptance, not toeing the line of fat positivity and fat shaming. You want customers? Again, take a lesson from the fatshion blogs.
5. PRICE: Three years ago I could afford to buy clothing in your store. The clothing has not changed much in style and composition (aside from slapping fancy names on some sublines), but I can no longer afford to buy clothing in your store, aside from the occasional bra purchase and, once in a while, a pair of jeans. I used to spend a good $500/season at your store. I still spend that money on clothing, in fact, more (I get more items), but I am only spending perhaps $50/season in your store. Now multiply me times the percentage of voices in the comments that are expressing negativity towards your brand, and you get a pretty big hit to your company.
So why not listen to us, for a change? I understand that it’s difficult to institute such radical changes, particularly in a company with a lot of history of doing things a certain way, but something’s got to give here. Start by making small steps — use fatter models, for instance, as a start — and go from there. I guarantee you a positive response. Thanks for your attention to this issue, I hope it yields fruit.