Introducing: + Plus-Size Plus +

Published October 14, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

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!

25 comments on “Introducing: + Plus-Size Plus +

  • Wow, woman! What an idea! I think this is a fab plan, and your timing is perfect. I shall pass the word to those I know outside the bloggosphere who might be interested.

    • I think the timing is really important just now. What with the Beth Ditto collection for Evans creating such a buzz, the Australian dollar being so strong and fatshion gaining momentum in the blogosphere… they all add up to some strong messages for retailers.

      And please do share anywhere you can. I figured a Facebook page was good for a lot of folks who don’t read blogs and stuff.

      Eventually I’d like to do some kits or something to help people write letters or even call up retailers.

  • Over winter, Target actually had a good range of clothes in their Moda line. I’m disappointed to hear that this hasn’t continued into their next season – especially as the only two plus-sized shops within 150km of me are Autograph and Target!

    • I have picked up some bits and bobs from Target that have been ok. They had some good tunic tops through winter. And the quality is better at Target than many other places, though the straight sizes are far better than the plus sizes.

  • You are seriously awesome. I was surprised this week when I saw a dress at Autograph that I actually liked and it was a mix of gorgeous bright colours too. I buy most of my clothes from Evans at the moment because I have enough black in my wardrobe and that seems to be 90% of what’s offered in my size now.

    I love that you’re engaging retailers in this way. Please add MySize to your list. I like a lot of their stuff, they’re usually good quality and even have nice bright stuff but they have such little variety and like to stick ruffles on everything. Ruffles are fine, but on everything?

    • MySize are definitely on my list Sassy, they are so phenomenally expensive and while their colours are good, and they are good quality, it’s the same old stuff regurgitated over and over. I don’t believe $70 or $80 for a t-shirt is reasonable!

  • Awesome! I often see things in straight sizing in Target that I would ADORE to wear. And in Katies (which also owns Autograph). It never fails to blow my mind how little choice there is for Australian plus siz women. Not only is there little choice, there is little quality in most cases too. When Target were developing their Moda range they had a questionaire for plus size women to fill out. I am getting the impression they really didn’t listen to anything we said as other than the tunics I bought in August, I have yet to see anything in the Moda range that I would bother trying on let alone purchasing. The Moda range in my local Target consists of about 4 racks and that is IT. I reckon it would be 1% of the store at the most. It is just beyond a joke. And as for Autograph, why can’t they make the same things as Katies has but in bigger sizes? It isn’t rocket science. /soapbox

    • I must go and poke my nose around Katies, I haven’t been in one of those for, good gravy, eons! It used to be a bit… matronly for my tastes, but it has been a very long time.

      You should see the dresses in Target in the Brisbane CBD shop in the straight sizes. They are so cute, so pretty, so lovely, so stylish, so fun, so colourful… I want those dresses in my size!

  • And that’s EXACTLY the reason I learned to sew. You can’t find ANYTHING hip or stylish in plus size shops that doesn’t cost an arm, leg and several other body parts.

    I’ve also bought several books that help resize things that aren’t quite right – for some reason, the people who make patterns think everyone is a B cup.

    Why can’t I find a pretty patterned bra in my size – even at Avenue? Anything pretty costs a weeks worth of wages and doesn’t fit the way I need it to.

    I usually end up buying work shirts in the men’s section and my jeans I get at Fashion Bug Plus (because they’re the only store that carries them in my size without having to pay 75 bucks.)

    bastards.

  • They will never cater for us. I mean, seriously……I’ve never found anything ina Target that wasn’t black, beige/taupe/brown, navy, or, if you can believe it, white. That is because they, with exception to white, are “slimming” colours, and blend. Effectively, we’re meant to disappear.

    It’s depressing. We’re mocked unmercifully for dressing “out of style”, but it’s not as if we’re given any other options. My entire wardrobe, out of no choice of my own, is made up entirely of the above colours, in either summer weight or winter weight clothes. It’s sad when you put away your winter blacks for your summer blacks. **sigh**

    • While I agree, it’s bloody depressing what is on offer these days and how it leaves us with so little choice but then we’re criticised for not being well presented enough, I do disagree that they will never cater for us.

      They will because we’re going to change that. Each and every one of us that has money to spend on clothes, a computer, the ability to write or make a phone call has the power to band together and change things.

      I will have more on Autograph (which is already starting to show it’s listening to their customers) to illustrate this in the near future I hope. And we’ll keep working on them.

  • 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?

    You’re reminding me of why I can go seasons without buying clothes – I already HAVE what’s offered in my size. Especially since my weight stabilized (for me, not dieting = stable weight) so clothing that fit last year still fits. Freaky.

    • Absolutely. I could too if I didn’t love shopping and hunting out new styles and changing things so much. If I was happy to dress in the way that the stores present plus-sized fashion to us, then I’d have a “uniform” for the rest of my life!

  • About 12-18 months ago Target had a great buyer for their plus size Moda line, while not perfect there were some more interesting things introduced and the potential was there to embrace something more than just the ‘nanna’ market. Unfortunately Target management were incredibly short sighted and neglected to understand that they could cater to the younger and older sections of the plus size community. As such their buyer left (pushed/jumped? the jury is still out on that one) and once again Target is full of ugly fabrics/prints/cuts.

  • My favourite plus size clothing shop is CityChic. I love that their styles are young and fun and not designed as camoflage. They have short skirts! halters! strapless! and other styles not generally found in plus. They are also reasonably priced. They are really doing it right for the youth market. I also don’t hate Target. Three summers ago they had great deep V T-shirts in nice colours (blue, green) and I had 5 of the same Tshirt and that was practically all I wore.

    My biggest problem with plus clothing is that all the pants styles are designed for an apple shape. Not everyone is the same shape. I wish someone would make some jeans with waist smaller than the hip!

    I also sew some of my own clothes and I have to say that I find that very liberating as once you learn to custom-fit the patterns to your shape you get infinite choice in clothing. It’s not for everyone but a lot of larger women really enjoy having custom clothing.

    • I’ve found the absolute opposite with pants ClaireEmily – I’m an apple and none of them fit me.

      I don’t hate Target and agree – three summers ago they had great stuff. But this year it is really sadly lacking. Where are all those great styles they had a season or two ago?

      CityChic certainly has a lot of much cuter and more modern stuff, but I find the prices ridiculous ($90 for a dress that falls apart the first time I hand wash it!) I’d love to see CityChic improve their quality and then it would be worth spending the extra money on. I don’t begrudge better prices if their stuff is really cute and good quality.

      I wish I could sew (well, even if I could I don’t have the time to do so) and I’m envious of those who can. But my point really lies in the fact that regular sized women don’t have to sew to obtain the clothes they want – it’s all there, loads of variety for great prices and reasonable quality, any time they want it.

      Don’t plus-sized women deserve that too?

  • What a great thing you’re doing here! With the AUD so strong at the moment many plus size women are buying great plus size clothing from overseas because there is really nothing affordable being offered her in Australia. Why spend $130 on a dress at City Chic when you can spend the same amount on multiple items from US sellers like Torrid or Faith21? Why would we buy something vaguely on trend at Target when we can buy some very trendy stuf from Evans? Australian sellers are missing out on sales, and if they listened to their customers and stocked good clothes we’d be more than happy to shop in Australia instead. Good luck with this campaign, I’ll spread the word as much as possible!

    • Exactly! Especially when we can pool together on shipping and stuff too. A couple of ladies and I recently shared an order from LucieLu and it worked out to a mere $10 on top of the fantastic price of each item. So instead of $130 for a poorly made dress from CityChic, I got a gorgeous, well made, beautifully fitting dress from LucieLu for $60!

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