Lane Bryant Debacle Response, and Fatshion Suggestions

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.

Some original posts, before the apology was issued by Definatalie, The Rotund, Lesley at Fatshionista, Fat Heffalump, Red3

The apology by Lane Bryant’s VP of Marketing, Jay Dunn

Some posts after the apology was issued by The Rotund, Not Blue at All

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.

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5 comments on “Lane Bryant Debacle Response, and Fatshion Suggestions

  1. I agree. The models at plus size fashion stores look more like in-betweenies than the people that are shopping there. Plus size for older women has models that are more realistic-looking, but the clothing for that age group isn’t approrpriate for younger adults, especially in the workplace.

    I don’t usually shop at plus size fashion stores, but the few times I went, the selection was weak. Mostly really loud floral prints and some vampy clothing. Jeans were fairly plain. I don’t mind any of those styles, but they dominate the store and aren’t appropriate for all occasions. What can I say? The concept that fat people like to wear attractive clothing is a new one. Some people seem to still think we aren’t entitled to clothes at all.:)

  2. erylin says:

    i can remember finding “cute” pants in my size that were “fancy” (this was in teh 90’s when skater jeans with lots of pockets were “in”) and literally crying in marshalls that i found “cool” clothes that fit….i gave up tent knit dresses then and there.

  3. Regina T says:

    FANTASTIC points made BL! I hope “Jay” at LB is listening….because you are exactly right!!! LB SHOULD be setting the bar and leading the industry in size acceptance BECAUSE THAT IS THEIR CLIENTELE! Are they afraid of a backlash from mainstream media/society at large who believe obesity is the cause of all the world’s ills? I bet that’s EXACTLY what they are afraid of….that the world will condemn them for “allowing the fatties to be happy in clothes that reflect their personality and sense of style, that fit properly and allows them to venture out into the world so I have to look at them! Why, doing so would make them believe they were HEALTHY and HUMAN!!” *sigh*

    Dramatic embellishment aside…..I suspect that is the core of their epic twitterfuck. The koolaid has been intravenously administered and they have fully embraced that it isn’t even POSSIBLE that a fat woman would:

    -love herself at the weight she is TODAY and want to wear clothing she feels good about
    -want to see clothing on similarly sized models so she can make a fair comparison
    -need true dimensions of armholes, shoulder seams, shoulder-to-waist lengths and cleavage plunge
    -be willing to show bare arms, fat rolls, their backsides, cankles, or any part of their thigh above the knee
    -give up the fantasy of being thin!

    I accept LB’s apology. But I also expect that when enlightenment occurs, they will explore it, let it grow, experiment, and nurture it. They can’t put this back in the box and wait for the backlash to die down. The FA movement is gaining momentum….and they would be foolish to not reflect on their marketing strategies. we are here! We Are Here! WE ARE HERE!

  4. vesta44 says:

    I quit shopping at LB after the debacle of the Right Fits. Red, Blue, Yellow – none of them fit my measurements. If I get the waist size they say I need, it’s either too loose or too tight, and either way, the jeans (except the waist) always stretch out after wearing them for half an hour so that they’re so baggy I don’t want to wear them. I’ve given up on finding jeans to fit, so I’ve gone with the bootcut flare denim leggings from Roaman’s (they come in talls! and colors!). The only problem I have with those pants (or any elastic waist pants, for that matter) is that the waist always hits me right under my bra in front, in back the waist is fine. I must have more ass than belly than other fat women, according to the people who make pants for fat women (or I’m awfully short from crotch to waist in front).
    And LB has quit carrying tops above a size 3X, which leaves me out altogether. Couple that with the service I’ve gotten the last couple of times I was in their stores (lousy) – no thank you, I’ll take my clothing dollars elsewhere. But then, they think I’m not their demographic either, since I’m not young (I hate to tell them, age is a state of mind, and just because my chronological age is 56, that doesn’t mean the way I see myself is 56 and matronly! I may be a grandmother, but I’m a cool grandma – I listen to heavy metal and play games on the Wii with my grandkids, for crying out loud). I go to baseball games and demolition derbies as well as play bingo, so LB, don’t try to pigeon-hole your customers, it doesn’t work.
    As for their apology – I’m not so sure it was sincere. I think it was more “Uh oh, we fucked up here and pissed off our customers, how do we get them back without really having to do anything? I know, we’ll apologize publicly and then it’s business as usual.”

  5. […] Liberty does a nice wrap up collection of the main thoughts and her own reflections on what quickly became a Lane Bryant kerfuffle […]

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