A couple of weeks ago, I posted about Autograph Fashion’s current stock range and how I feel that they’re selling their key customer demographic short with what they currently have on offer, as far as quality, variety and price. I am pleased to say that a representative from Autograph has been in contact with me, and we are currently working on something further on this topic for me to share with you in the near future. I am impressed with their response to my post and comments on their Facebook page, and I hope this is the beginning of some improvements to their range.
However, I think we need to take the campaign further and wider when it comes to plus-sized clothing options in Australia. I was in Target this morning after seeing an advertisment about their sale on underwear and bras, and when I walked in, I was astonished at the sea of beautiful dresses they have on offer at the moment. Everything from casual maxi dresses for cover-ups by the pool or a relaxed barbecue, through to dresses for work, cute frocks for the Spring Racing season and even a few more formal cocktail frocks. The cover of their current catalogue here in Queensland reads “Happiness is… dresses.” In the store in the Brisbane CBD, the dresses are everywhere. Spotty dresses, floral dresses, long dresses, short dresses, black dresses, coloured dresses, pale dresses, bold dresses. You name it, and yes, I looked around in delight at all these dresses and felt happiness.
But imagine my dismay, when I went down to the tiny corner of the entire floor that is the plus sized section. That section would be less than 10% of the floor space on that level, maybe not even 5%. While I could see that more than half the floor was devoted to straight sizes, much of that dresses at the moment. Where were all my pretty dresses? Oh there were a handful, all maxi-dresses, almost all black (maybe with a little white), basically on two racks in the far back corner near the fire doors. Everything else was glorified t-shirts, a few button through shirts, long gypsy/hippy style skirts, and plain pants/jeans. Where were my dresses that are happiness, according to their catalogue?
Oh wait. I’m fat. Can I not be happy? Do I not deserve happiness in the form of dresses? Or any of the other variety offered to the straight sized customers?
I did have a closer look at the plus-sized range. I have a few fairly recent purchases from Target as well, and I can say the quality isn’t bad, it’s certainly better than offered in other stores at the moment, but it’s not great. It’s certainly nowhere near as good as their straight sized range. The fabrics are all pretty much the same (lots and lots of black, and only two or three other colour palettes offered) and are either polyester/elastane blend knits, or polyester weaves.
Now if these styles and fabrics suit your taste and needs… you’re not too badly catered for by Target. But if you want anything outside of that very narrow range, tough. Go elsewhere. Oh wait, pretty much the same thing is being offered elsewhere!
One thing I will give Target is that the prices are comparable to the straight sized section. A maxi dress costs $39 whichever section you shop from in their current sale range, which is impressive. That’s a rare thing for plus-sizes compared to straight sizes.
I’m not just having a whinge here on my blog and hoping that Target Australia somehow find out about it and change their ways. I have contacted them this evening, with some constructive feedback, somewhat similar to what I’ve written here. It will be interesting to see how they respond. If they respond.
I got thinking about it today, and I think that we need to go that step further with plus-size clothing retailers in Australia. I think they need to hear that we are feeling left out when it comes to clothing options, but that we’re happy to take our money elsewhere, especially now that the Australian dollar is so very strong and that international shopping online is readily available. It’s not perfect, but it is available and is a valid option for more and more people these days.
I want to offer constructive criticism and feedback, and to encourage other plus-size clothing purchasers to stand up and offer constructive criticism and feedback too. This goes for their advertising, shop presentation and floor space, and customer service as well. I also want to offer praise, publicity and good word of mouth for those who get it right.
What I don’t want to do is bully, slander or harass retailers. If it’s not respectful and constructive, it’s not welcome.
I also am not asking retailers to get rid of any of the particular styles that can be found in abundance at the moment, that I personally don’t like. What I’m asking is that they offer variety. Or if someone else is doing it, try offering something different. I would like to be able to choose the styles I wear, not be forced to work with the same styles over and over to give them my own flair.
So to kick us off, I’ve created a Facebook group, called + Plus-Sized Plus +. I chose this name because what I’m asking plus-size clothing designers, manufacturers and most importantly, retailers to do is offer us plus-sized clothing plus quality, plus variety, and plus affordability.
Now anyone is welcome to join + Plus-Sized Plus +, but at this moment in time I am focusing on Australian plus-sized fashion. But you are welcome to use + Plus-Sized Plus + as a platform to kick things off in your own country if you like.
Please, if you have any suggestions, or any questions, or any Australian retailers you think we could work on, hit us up in the comments below and let’s get to work!