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:
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.