Please Autograph, NO. Just… NO

Published October 1, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I was just reading the newsfeed on my Facebook page, and saw two posts from Autograph (Australian plus-size clothing retailer) via their facebook page.  A couple of shots of clothing from their most recent range.

Behold the clothing hideousness:

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and

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This is what the most frequently found Australian plus-sized retail chain is offering fat women to wear.  Boring, boxy, dull, frumpy, hideous, granny-style, ugly, dowdy, drab, “old housewives”, cheap, revolting, poorly made, overpriced, horrendous… crap.  All words being used by women commenting on the two posts (here and here).  These clothes even make this nice looking woman in the photographs look daggy.  Put your hand over the outfits and she’s lovely!

There are also complaints of their clothing being “unflattering”.  Now you know I don’t believe in the term “unflattering” – if someone wants to wear something that highlights their bodies, no matter what shape they are, then they shouldn’t have to “flatter” themselves.  But what I will say is that so many of the clothes at Autograph are impractical, uncomfortable and unsuitable.  Elasticated waistbands that ride up over bellies and butts, forcing you to forever tug them back into place.  Super thin knit for t-shirt style tops that cling uncomfortably or get caught/torn by buttons and other features on jeans and skirts etc.  Patterns that are so busy I get an eyestrain headache as the fabric moves past my eyesight.  Ties (neck, waist etc) that never sit nicely, but bunch or catch on things (or ride up or down).  Maxi-dresses that don’t allow for bigger busts (which a majority of fat women have) or for the bras required to hold bigger busts.  Sleeveless tops with the armholes cut so huge that the wearer has half of her sides visible through the sleeves, or so narrow that they pull or ride under the armpit.  And those are just a few things.

How can anyone look stylish and comfortable in clothes that don’t sit nicely on their bodies and have to be adjusted all of the time because they are poorly made?

I shop at Autograph a lot, because there is one within 2 minutes walking distance of my office, the staff are lovely and I can find bargain racks there.  But I will not touch anything that is at full price, because $40 for a knit top like the above, or $80+ for a dress like the above is bloody ridiculous.  I rummage through the bargain racks and see what I can get my hands on on sale that I can work in with funkier pieces, or good accessories.  I’ve noticed that over the past 6 to 18 months, I am finding less and less at Autograph that I like.  A cardigan here, or a dress there, but 85% of their stock is just like the ladies describe on those posts – boring, frumpy, overpriced and very poorly made.  And so often when I do find a piece that looks alright, it doesn’t last.  I bought a wheat coloured cardigan a few weeks ago.  I’ve worn it 3 times and it’s pilling in patches already.

Do you know what though?  My local store is in the CBD.  I’ve been out to the suburban shopping centres and gone into the Autograph stores there, and it’s even worse.  The range is far smaller, the few more modern, younger styles are nowhere in sight (they must all get sent to the CBD stores) and there are almost no clearance racks like you can find in the city stores.

When are retailers going to realise that this is NOT acceptable?  That we will take our money (and contrary to popular belief, not all fat people are poor or uninterested in fashion) elsewhere, overseas if need be, to find clothes that are well made, that fit properly, are good fabrics and have style and fashion to them.  Nor is it acceptable to charge exorbitant prices for mass produced, cheaply made, synthetic fabric junk either.

Bad form Autograph.  Time to have a really good rethink about what you’re offering your customers.  The internet offers us a global shopping centre.  We tell each other where the good stuff is and what’s worth spending money on.  We pool our shipping costs.  And we blog/tweet/status update and more about those that are crappy.

If you want to stay in business, listen to what people are saying on your Facebook page, on blogs and other social media.

If you do, and get it right, I’ll sing your praises to the high heavens.  Until then, I’m going to call you out for the shoddy product and bad practices you offer customers that you should be valuing.

40 comments on “Please Autograph, NO. Just… NO

  • I never shop in Autograph. It’s not worth the time. Mind you, the quality at City Chic is almost as bad (just with a lower frumpiness quotient). I am so tired of having no luck when shopping. It’s demoralizing.

    • City Chic has worse quality I think. At least you can wash the pieces from Autograph without them falling to bits. City Chic items don’t even get a chance to wear out quickly. And they’re even more expensive!

  • Actually Serena, I challenge that thinking.

    If someone is comfortable, confident and happy in an outfit, no matter what shape, size or style it is in, then they look gorgeous. Nobody has the right to judge them but themselves. There is no such notion of “flattering” when you take away the judgement of others.

    I’m a proud Super Fat woman who is more than happy to bare my fat arms to the world. And my fat shoulders, and my fat legs, and my fat back. If anyone doesn’t like it… tough! They need to go concern themselves with their own lives.

    Personal choice is one thing – if you’re not comfortable baring any part of your body, then by all means, there should be suitable clothing available for purchase in your size to suit you. But judging others on what they wear is not acceptable.

    Nor is it welcome on this blog. This is a positive space for fat bodies of all shapes and sizes, and we don’t pass judgement on other people.

  • Autograph outfits are so weirdly cut and shaped that I have to agree that they are “unflattering” – a term I don’t like to use because normally it means “OMG FAT OH NO!”. My Size used to have good quality, fashionable clothes though not cheap – in the last 3-4 years they’ve got horrible, Autograph-level quality and styles without lowering their prices.

    • I get what you mean lilacsigil. Anything that isn’t comfortable, or cut well, or fit right isn’t going to look good. It’s not about the body needing to be hidden away, it’s about the body needing clothing that fits and wears well. I believe the prices are being jacked up even more. Two or three years ago a t-shirt would have been $20 maximum at Autograph. Now I see them up to $50.

  • ehhhh, look. As someone who never had money to shop anywhere but walmart and occasionally fashion bug (a not exactly fashionable plus size women’s store in the US), I can’t help but feel a little defensive for people who wear these sort of clothes. I’m sure I have had that exact shirt at multiple times in my adolescence and it was probably the most fashionable thing I had in my wardrobe. I don’t know. Of course you have the right to speak out against crappy fit and fashion, but this just feels a bit insulting against people who choose to wear these clothes or those of us who don’t have a choice.

    • J there’s no judgement on anyone who does like these clothes pictured, what it is a cry for a business to listen to their customers. The overwhelming majority is asking for something else, but it is being ignored. The clothes that are pictured can be found in other places cheaper and better quality than at Autograph. Autograph label themselves as a fashion outlet, and they’re ignoring the fashions the majority of their customers are asking for. It’s not about anyone’s personal style, it’s about customer service.

      I found FAR better quality clothes at Walmart and Fashion Bug in the US than I can get from Autograph here in my own country, and they’re the major plus sized retailer. And at a fraction of the cost. Which goes to tell you how shoddy they are.

      You’re right – there is also a huge gap in what is available for the plus-sized market for a budget price compared to a straight sized market. Stores need to address this too.

  • You don’t offend me. But this is a safe place for all bodies without judgement. If you’re not sure, I have a comments policy you can find under the logo picture on this blog, right hand side towards the top.

    • I realize it’s probably a little too sensitive, but when the clothes are called “dull, frumpy, hideous, granny-style, ugly, dowdy, drab” then, to me, it’s the same as saying the women wearing them are the same. I know you didn’t make up those words you said yourself the customers from their page said those things. It is just one of those things that makes me go, “Erk!” When I see ladies in the fatshion/fat blogging community talk about a garment I once wore as ugly.😛

    • I’m not saying people don’t look good, I’m saying that the clothing is cheap, cookie-cutter, shoddy workmanship that falls apart after the first wash and doesn’t fit properly and that fat women deserve better.

      Serena was saying that people should cover their bodies to avoid offending her eyes because she doesn’t like the sight of fat arms or shoulders.

      There is a VAST difference between the two, and if you fail to see the difference you’re not reading the post clearly.

    • Incidentally “Helen” – is there a reason that you have the same IP address as Serena? Is there a reason that when I look your IP address up, both of them give me the same address in Melbourne?

  • Being from the US I’ve never heard of Autograph but I’m guessing they’d be the Australian equivalent of something like Avenue or Lane Bryant?

    If someone wants to wear these styles, that’s totally fine. It is definitely not me. I am also immersed in subculture and therefore don’t care about trends, I got my own style.

    But I am pretty self-conscious about the shape of my arms and don’t like the endless collection of sleeveless or those stupid barely-cap-sleeves that leave half my armpits hanging out; and what’s just as bad is that I have a hard time finding anything with either regular T-shirt-like sleeves or LONG sleeves….my complaint would be Lane Bryant and Torrid offering 10 million items with those stupid 3/4 sleeves or 7/8 sleeves that look really stupid on my short arms. Why do plus size retailers assume every fat woman loves 3/4 sleeves?!?!

    They look good for some things like cardigans but terrible for work-safe blazers.

    This is why I pretty much rely on ebay without showing loyalty to any particular retailer heh.

    • I really like half sleeves ending right at my elbows. I do not like going sleeveless, partly because I am subconsciously self-conscious, and partly because I don’t shave under my arms every day (*shockawedisgust!*) because it’s hard on my sensitive skin. Plus I looooove sweaters and shrugs.

      • I’m not a fan of half-sleeves (heh having short arms they look more 3/4 on me) and if that’s what someone else likes, that’s totally fine.

        I’m just frustrated that I can’t walk into any given plus size retailer in the US and expect to find easily something that has regular long sleeves like how one easily could at a straight-size retailer. The last time I lucked out with that was at the Target clearance rack, I got this nice green V-neck knit for $6 that fits me just perfectly. (Is Target even still putting out that same collection that had the Torrid-like sizing?)

    • Yeah, Autograph is supposed to be along the lines of Lane Bryant… only they make even Lane Bryant look good. The quality has taken a massive downhill slide. The knit fabrics from there are so thin these days I could push my finger through them with very little effort at all. They pill and lose their shape when you wash them. Things are cut poorly, stitched poorly, cheap beading, applique or embroidery slapped across the bust to “tizzy” it up and the sizing isn’t consistent. And they’re the one major retailer for clothing that is suitable for outside of a nightclub (the only other plus sized chain, City Chic do nightclub gear and semi-formal stuff predominantly) for plus sizes in Australia.

      As for sleeves – I believe retailers should be offering a range of lengths and styles in sleeves. Not sitting on one trend length, or alternatively, assuming that all fat women want to hide their upper arms away. I’d kill for some properly cut sleeveless tops/dresses.

  • Sleeveless or cap-sleeve does seem to be in right now. I recommend We Be Bop, which you can buy on eBay, for always good sleeve lengths. A little pricey, and you might or might not like the type of fabric they choose, but well made.

  • Two things: 1) I think the first dress is really bad. 2) I actually like the second top and would wear that as a casual “whatever” day top (in a different color prolly).

    I would hate it if there was a clothing store that I had to shop in that ONLY offered things like the red-tomato top -I’d complain too. But you know what? There are days when I don’t feel like dressing to the nines, and the hottest, newest looks in “fatshion” is not something I’m interested in 24/7 all the time, when I dress myself.

    I know it’s not your taste, but yeah, some people (like me!) may not think it’s all “hideous.” But then again I agreed with you about the first dress….lol

    • I have to say, that top is offered at every single shop that stocks plus-sized clothing EVERY season. From the discount stores like Big W (our version of Walmart) and Best and Less, to the Target/K-Marts, to the chains like Autograph, and even in the really pricey “boutique” style plus-sized clothing stores. I never want to see that “peasant” style top again for fat women. The reason it’s offered everywhere is because it’s dirt cheap to make (it’s actually only two pieces of fabric with no buttons, darts, shaping or anything) and it can be made to fit any size because of the “blousing”.

      It’s served up to us as “Hey, this fits you, look, we made it in four colours, what more could you want?” All of us deserve better than that.

      • I couldn’t agree more! If someone likes to/wants to wear peasant tops, that’s totally fine. I have one from Old Navy I like to wear around the house/sleep in because it’s lightweight fabric and comfortable.

        But definitely not for going out it’s not my style. It’s just that the style selection for both budget, mid-price, and higher-end clothing is nowhere near what it is for straight size and I will continue to have my sleeve selection vendetta.

      • Well I will say this: I agree with you that there needs to be better choices for fat women in terms of clothing. Like I said, if all that was offered was clothes from a store like a peasant top I’d be unhappy too. I shop at Target occasionally, and I think there are too many casual choices and it’s not great because of that.

        However this “I never want to see that “peasant” style top again for fat women” nope, I don’t agree. I don’t want to get rid of casual clothing, I just don’t want it to be the only choice.

        I stlll want clothes for around the house and running errands around town. We can demand dressy clothing, more professional clothing, without getting rid of the “peasant tops.” That being said, getting rid of the “peasant tops” is probably not going to happen realistically!

        Yeah, we just have a difference of opinion on this.

      • There are a thousand, no a million, no, actually an infinite number of configurations for casual clothing for fat bodies that do not involve producing a cheap, cookie cutter, poorly made, and damn disrespectful piece of clothing like that top. By presenting to fat women a million versions of that same shoddy piece of clothing, retailers and manufacturers and designers are saying to fat women “This is all you are worth, this is all the effort we’re going to put into you. This is what you get. Wear it and quit your bitching. Be grateful you even get this.”

        If you want to accept being treated like that, then please, go ahead.

        But I’d be so happy to burn every single one of them in protest of how fat women are treated by the clothing industry. And I challenge the clothing industry to produce something that offers a look along those lines but does so with quality, good design and respect to the people they’re expecting to fork out their hard earned money for.

  • UGH! So very very fugly. Not the model, obviously, but the clothes…. UGH!
    I think I might have to get back into sewing (But trust me, that brings a whole other raft of issues about sizes available – although at least you get to choose the fabric…)

  • “If you want to accept being treated like that, then please, go ahead.”

    I don’t think having a peasant blouse as one option amongst many, is being treated badly. What I do think is being treated badly, is being offered ONLY clothing that is just one style, one way without a variety. I want a variety too, of clothing styles and quality.. Also I must admit: I have rarely been in a position to buy anything worth a lot of money – I don’t have the funds and haven’t in many year.

    Because me and some other people want to buy clothes that don’t cost a lot and ocassionaly want to buy some “whatever” clothes once in a while, doesn’t mean I want to be treated badly. Occasionally needs to be seen as the operative word here. I do not want to suggest “please lets fill the stores with JUST pleasant blouses and nothing else.” And because my clothing tastes (like that top) are not yours, does not mean I want to be treated “badly.”

    Not at all.

    • You’re still not getting the point. It’s not about taste at all. Clothes that “don’t cost a lot” don’t have to be badly made clothes. It seems that you’ve been convinced that if you want inexpensive clothes that you have to settle for badly made clothes.

      I want inexpensive clothes that are made to a reasonable standard.

      And you’re not listening to me when I say that I can buy an equivalent top to the one in the picture above in each and every plus sized retailer available here. YOU don’t have to suggest that the stores are filled with these poorly made tops, they already ARE.

      But clearly I’m never going to open your mind to what I am saying because you’ve decided that it is about your taste vs mine.

      • Be well. This is a circular argument at this point and I don’t think you are listening to me either. I don’t agree. You don’t agree with me. This sometimes happens. Oh well.

        Happy blogging.

  • Thanks for sending through the link to your blog. We really appreciate the open and honest feedback you have expressed on our Facebook page and your blog, as we are always looking for feedback that can help us improve our product offering.

    We are sorry to hear that we have not been catering for your needs. We do cater for a wide range of customers and not everything is suitable for every person. We do really value your insight and value your recent positive comments, we would love to send you some product for you to review and help assist us in delivering what you want. Please jump on our website and email me through any pieces that you would like to review or think you can style up, we would love your input if you are interested.

    Warm regards,

    Elissa

  • Over the years I have come to absolutely detest the ‘fashion” on offer at Autograph. I’m not quite as accepting of my body as I should be or as you are…but I’m getting there. 🙂

    However, I do know this… Autograph clothes make me feel ugly. I know that I have beauty to show. I have ample curves and I’m proud of many of them (and I’m learning to love the others). But I am also only 158cm tall. Autograph expects me to be significantly taller to carry off their “fashions”. As I don’t meet this standard, all I manage to do is look like a sack of crap.

    I agree their garments and those at City Chic are grossly overpriced. It is a price discrimination that I find as offensive as Autograph’s garish prints and old-fashioned styles. At least City Chic is more suited to my age and my sense of style.

    I have obviously had more luck with my CC purchases. I shop there almost exclusively now. I buy up big when they have sales on. I even scored a gorgeous top (one of my faves) for only $5.00!!

    We will have to go shopping together during the January sales!

    • You know what? I was in Autograph this evening, and I had another look on their website, and do you know what it says to me? Millers. Yep, it looks exactly like the stuff my mother and grandmother buy from Millers. Or Crossroads. Boring t-shirts with a bit of embroidery or beading on them. A sea of beige, black, navy, white. Big nanna prints. Pedal pushers. Synthetic pants.

      Autograph tout themselves as a FASHION chain. Why are they producing the same snore-worthy stuff that they are selling at Millers or Crossroads, all of which are owned by the same company (or you can buy from MySize for twice the price!!)? Or at K-Mart.

      If people want those conservative styles, for Mom-wear… then Millers, Crossroads, MySize, K-Mart and even Target are all there for them. Why have Autograph gone away from modern, interesting stuff to provide more of the same-same?

      • The main reason that I don’t even bother to go into Autograph is that all their clothes scream ‘WE ARE FAT CLOTHES’ to me. In varying shades of ‘I hate my body, help me hide it!’. They are instantly idenitfiable to my eye as from a ‘fat store’. As you are saying, why should fashion be segregated like that.

        • Keep your eye on Autograph. There are some changes afoot, and they’re already testing some new stock. They’ve got some serious work to do, but I do know they’re working on it.

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