customer service

All posts in the customer service category

Clothes! (I’m Excited!)

Published July 3, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

It is a rare thing that plus-size fashion promos make me really excited.  Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes, and every now and then I find something that I really love, but it’s not very often that I see a whole story and just go “I love it!”

But I got a sneak peek earlier this week at the lookbook of the newly released July range from Autograph Fashion and almost all of the collection was something that I would wear, and several pieces were really appealing.  I asked the crew at Autograph to send me some images so that I can share them with you all, because I think we’re seeing something quite significant with this collection.

So let’s take a look!

My favourite piece from the whole collection is this animal print dress:

Now I love me some animal print like only a fat lady can, but there are a lot of things I love about this dress.  Firstly… pockets!  Darting at the bustline, pleating and draping along the skirt (a bit hard to see in this photo).  I love the black, white and silvery grey too – I can see it with a jewel colour cardigan and tights, or fishnets and heels.  I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

Then there is this midnight spot dress:

I love a lot of things about this one too.  The smocking, the indigo colour and the generous gathering.  I think it will look amazing over black leggings or tights, and I am going to find a black belt so I can wear it like this too.  And the people who feel they need sleeves are catered to with this one too.  I love that it’s a different take on spots as well.

How about this snake print skirt:

More animal print (yay!) and I love tulip wrap skirts, they hang so well on many different shaped bodies.  Not too long either – I find they look frumpy on me if they go past the knee.  I am really loving the black, white, indigo and silver of this range too.  I can keep it as is for a wintry look, or jazz it up with more colour.

Another favourite of this range for me is this shoulder top:

Love the cutouts, love the studs, love the drape over the bodice!  I’d wear this one with the snake print skirt.  This is a style that you NEVER see in plus-size fashion, it’s so refreshing to have something that’s different.

Ok, I know that a lot of you love sequins, so check out this tunic:

I confess, I love some sequins myself.  I’d love to see this one in red too, but the black is lovely.  I like the length too.

For another black dress, we have this one:

I love the ruffles on this.  I do love ruffles.  The ruched belt with this one is really cute too, and it’s a great length.  Another one I would wear with bright accessories (but you could leave it monochrome if that’s more your style).

Now this one is listed as a block print tunic:

But you know what?  It’s the white jacket I’m in love with in this shot.  I bought their denim jacket a couple of months ago and wear the hell out of it, and this one is even cuter.  The tunic is nice too, but that jacket… love it!

Next is the satin placket top:

 

There’s that indigo colour again that is really hot this season, and I love that this one is another new style that I’ve not seen repeated everywhere in plus sizes.  It looks like a spring and summer top, but with one of the jackets, leggings or a long sleeved top underneath, it works for winter too.  I’m a big fan of sheer fabrics as well.

And then we have the lace print tunic and drape cardi:

 

 

These two are a bit more traditional of plus-size clothes, and I have something similar to both already.  I still like the silvery-grey with black and white though.

So there you have the bulk of the collection.  You know what I love about this collection?  There are none of the usual fat-lady tropes that show up in SO much of the plus-size clothing we see.  No surplice necklines.  No shark-bite/handkerchief hems.  No “embellished” pants or bustlines.  Not even a baby-doll/empire waist!  Now I happen to personally like surplice necklines and empire waists, but I don’t want EVERY garment I own to have them.

It’s great to see a collection that is modern and fashionable, that is aimed at women with careers and adult social lives.  That’s been the biggest gap in the plus-size market in Australia (though the whole market is a gap in itself still) – clothes that women can wear to work, and to the kind of social life that is outside of nightclubs.

Now I know this collection is not going to be to everyone’s taste (no collection is – we’d all be boring if we liked the exact same things), but I do think it shows that Autograph Fashion are trying to bring in something more fashionable and on-trend, while still providing clothing that will fit a plus-size body with practicality (every garment here will cover my giant ugly “rack of doom” bras that I have no other option but wear!)  In the face of other brands completely ignoring their customers (I am looking at you City Chic, you can keep ignoring us but it’s only going to do you damage in the long run) or cutting the larger sizes out altogether (I’m still here City Chic, and I’ve still got money to spend on clothes, at size 26.)

I’m really looking forward to seeing these garments “in the flesh” so to speak, and I hope that Autograph continue to work towards fashion forward ranges that cover the entire size range (14-26).

To see the collection and prices – click here.

*Disclaimer: I am not paid by Autograph and these are my genuine opinions on this range and Autograph’s customer service.

More Autograph Fashion Reviews

Published April 22, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

It’s time to do another garment review post for Autograph Fashion!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, they sent me some more product to review.  I can’t tell you how lucky I am that they do this for me, because they are the store I shop in the most (being close to my work and generally in the right price range for me).  After my post on how much I had fallen in love with their tall riding boots, I counted 13 pairs of boots that were sold because of either that post, or the one I did on Tumblr.  That’s just the ones I know about.  So they’re getting good advertising out of me at least!

In this latest post, they sent me the brown buckle boots, pink buckle ballet flats, sleeveless sequins tank, 3/4 sleeve knit paisley print dress, short sleeve plait neck lace print top, animal print top (no longer listed online but worn with this leather jacket) and another paisley print top with a cami (also not longer listed online).  I have worn all except the paisley print top so far (which I hope to wear this coming week) and have had most of them photographed to share with you here.

Let’s start with the animal print top and brown buckle boots shall we?  Take a look of my OOTD:

I have to admit, I fell in love with this animal print top back when Autograph first posted a pic of it on their Facebook page as “coming soon”.  There was a lot of “fat ladies shouldn’t” around the bold print, but I was like “GIMME!!”  I particularly love the sweetheart neckline (I’ll tolerate surplice necklines a whole lot more if I can have a bit more variety in them) and empire waistline.  Both are styles that particularly suit me.    But what I really love about this top is the fabric.  It is a lovely weighty knit that is super soft and just drapes beautifully.  The bodice actually has a kind of cami lining, so it makes the top fall even better than just with the fabric.  Some months ago Autograph had a run of this very thin, clingy knit that had great colours, but it just sagged and looked sloppy no matter who was wearing it.  It even clung to the lace of my bra and made my boobs all lumpy.  To be fair, I saw that fabric everywhere for awhile there, most retail chains seemed to give it a run.  I’m really glad it has disappeared, because it was a crap fabric.  This top is made of a knit that is everything that the cheap knit wasn’t.  I’m not sure what this one retailed at, I think $49.99 or $59.99.  It is still in store though if you like it.

I’m also wearing the brown buckle boots in this photo.  When I bought the tall riding boots, I saw these and thought they were nice, but didn’t really think I’d bother with them, even after seeing a friend of mine with them in black looking fab in them.  But now that I have a pair, and I’ve worn them a few times, I am SO glad I have them!  They are really cute, super comfy (I ran around one really busy day last week all over the shop all day, for a 9.5 hour work day, and was still standing when I finally got home, having had them on for about 12 hours!) and they fit my 19″ calves with room to spare.  I love the lighter, warmer brown of them too.  These are $89.99 and I would honestly spend that on them.

The boots are still available online, but sadly the top is not.  I think it may have sold like hotcakes.  You might find it in the actual stores though if you’re lucky.

The next garment I wore was the sleeveless sequins tank:

I’ve been longing to wear sequins to the office for some time.  I’ve been inspired by Bloomie, Nicole and Anna all wearing sequins, so when this one arrived I was rather thrilled to be able to fulfill that longing.  It’s a sleeveless top, and only sequinned on the front, but I think they’re probably wasted on the back anyway.  The sequins are sewn on well, and though there was a tag attached saying to expect some to fall off on laundering, only a few did.  This one retails at $59.99, which is quite a bit more than I would spend on it.  It also now comes in red which I am lusting after so much!  Both the silver and red are available on the website.

Then I wore the 3/4 sleeve paisley print dress (it’s finally getting cool enough to do so in Brisbane!):

OMG I LOVE THIS DRESS!  Again – good quality knit fabric, drapes so beautifully, breathes and is deliciously soft.  I adore the print, it has that 70’s feel.  The length is perfect with my tall riding boots, and yes, I’ll even forgive that surplice neckline (I really am getting sick of them though.  It retails at $79.99 and is still available on the website.  I will be wearing the shit out of this dress through winter.

The other two items I have worn, but sadly didn’t get OOTD photographs for are these two:

This is a cute top, a little more sedate than I would normally wear, but I got a lot of compliments on it.  It’s really nice to have something other than a surplice neckline, that’s for sure.  The fabric isn’t as nice on this one as the other garments, it’s a more synthetic feeling fabric, and doesn’t breathe as well.  But I’ll get a lot of wear out of this for work through winter.  This one sells for $49.99 and is still available on the website.

And these that retail for $59.99:

I’m not sure I would buy ballet flats from a plus-size store.  Don’t get me wrong, these are as cute as hell, and fit really well (the only negative is they get this weird camel-toe crease in the toe that I am trying to stretch back out with newspaper), but we fat girls can get ballet flats anywhere.  The boots I understand – we need wide calf boots for fat legs.  But ballet flats are pretty universal.  They’re not specialist wide fit ones either, but then thin people have wide feet (my tall, super slim boss has the same size feet as I do, only mine aren’t as wide as hers so I often inherit shoes that don’t fit her – the only thing I COULD inherit from her – I’m easily 4 of her!) so those should be in regular shoe stores.

What I think I’m getting at is that I really want my plus-size retailer to focus on plus-size clothing and accessories.  Wide calf boots.  Plus-size belts, tights, sleepwear, swimwear, underwear (PLEASE AUTOGRAPH, START GOING ALL LANE BRYANT WITH BRAS FOR US!!)  Rings, bangles/bracelets and necklaces to fit our fatter bodies.  Don’t worry about the stuff that is universal – they only take up valuable plus-size real estate.

All in all, happy with all of the stuff Autograph sent me (though a few tweaks would be welcome), and VERY, VERY impressed with the buckle boots, paisley dress and animal print top.  I am very pleased to see the quality of fabrics improving, the addition of wide-calf boots, and some cute, funky, fashionable things coming through.  Keep it up folks!

Getting it Right; Getting it Wrong

Published April 4, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

How can two companies, both owned by the same mega company, both basically in the same business, have such wildly polarised modes of customer service?   If you don’t know, Autograph Fashion and City Chic are owned by the same company, Specialty Fashion Group.  They’re like big sister and little sister of the same company.  Both are plus-size clothing retailers.  Both are Australian based companies.  Both have an online arm of their business, that will sell overseas.  I don’t know how cross pollinated their staff are (ie whether head office actually covers both brands), but you think there’d be at least some communication across the organisation.

But it seems not.

Both retailers have a Facebook page (City Chic/Autograph), and post pictures of their up-coming stock to the page, where people comment on it.

However, how each company responds is vastly different.

When there were lots of women leaving comments on the Autograph page that they wanted sleeves, Autograph responded with a pre-run search link to all of their tops, tunics and dresses with sleeves.  When there were lots of women saying that they wished that Autograph would style their outfit shots more than to just put a model in the dress and photograph her in front of a white background, Autograph changed their images.

From this:

Lovely model, shows the dress, but a quite dull.  To this:

Styled hair, styled make-up, interesting background, nice lighting, some accessorising.

When the posters on Autographs page responded that they would like more fashionable, modern clothes, Autograph responded.  They introduced cute boots* (someone mentioned wide calf boots on their Facebook wall some time ago too), new styles, some more colour.

When I wrote a blog post critiquing the frumpy nature of a particular season’s clothes, Autograph contacted me, and as you probably know, have been amazing sending me products to review.  I know myself that in the past six months or so, I’ve gone from wearing Autograph clothes that look like this:

Which is from the first parcel of stuff they sent me, to this:


This is from their current stock, a lovely big parcel of such they sent me last week – both those boots and the top/dress I am wearing are available right now.  Let me just tell you, the boots are so bloody comfortable I tromped around in them all day (I haven’t worn ANY heel for almost two years) running through our biggest library with a vendor, walking up to the shops at lunch time, all over the place, and I wasn’t in any hurry to take them off when I got home.  And that top is lined in the bodice which makes it drape so beautifully, and is made of the lushest, soft, weighty knit fabric.  I’m not just saying that because they sent it to me for free either.  I promise, if they send me anything that sucks, I’ll tell you.

When people complained that their fabrics were thin, lost shape and clung in all the wrong ways, Autograph stopped stocking them and have moved to much nicer (and really soft) fabrics like the top above.

The list goes on.  Autograph are listening, they talk TO their customers (as best they can around the ones that one can never make happy at any time) and they make changes when people speak up.

Which brings us to City Chic.  I’ve never seen City Chic respond on Twitter to a negative comment.  They’ve only re-tweeted the positive ones.  City Chic post their stock on Facebook, and when people complain about their high prices… nothing is said.  When people say they’d like garments that they can wear a proper plus-sized bra of ugliness under without it being exposed, City Chic respond “Well, buy a shrug.” (I don’t want a shrug, I want a garment that fits my body and my underwear properly, and besides, I live in BRISBANE).  When customers said their prices were too high, they ignored it, and their prices have got even higher.

Well the straw that seems to have broken the camel’s back happened over the weekend.  When someone noticed on Friday that City Chic had quietly dropped any garments over a size 22 from their website, word travelled pretty quick.  By Friday night, there were several posts on their Facebook page exclaiming dismay at this.  They ignored it all weekend.  By this morning, a lot of people were talking about it, on their Facebook page, on Twitter, on Tumblr and various other places.  There were a lot of angry fatties out there, making it very clear that they were offended at City Chic removing the upper range of plus sizes.  Along with a lot that spoke up and said that their sizing was shoddy as it is, smaller than standard and a fit that doesn’t work for many bodies.

Instead of engaging with their customers quickly Friday afternoon, or even over the weekend (we just saw posts bragging about how they were off to London), they let it brew up, until this afternoon, when they responded with what I feel is a somewhat snarky post.  It’s long, and you can see it here. (You may have to “like” the page – it’s really long so I can’t share it here).  Basically it says that we considered our sizing and because you fatty fat fats didn’t buy enough of our stuff at full price, we cut out the upper sizing.  Perhaps City Chic need to have a wee think about just why people aren’t buying their stock at full price.  Perhaps full price is over priced.  Perhaps their sizing is wrong.  Perhaps their fits are wrong.  Perhaps the garment quality is not good enough (the three garments I bought from them some years ago when they still had some size 26 pieces fell apart very quickly).  Perhaps the styles can’t be worn successfully with a size 24 or above bra under them… the list goes on.

What really galled me is their admission that they use a size 16 fit model.  What??  A size 16 fit model for a range that was going up to size 24??  Ok, find someone who you know is a size 16.  Now look at my body in the picture above.  What the hell are they thinking to use a size 16 fit model for the upper range of plus sizes???  There is a positive plethora of differences of shape and proportion between a size 16 body and a size 26 body (and all sizes in between).  A smart company would have two fit models, or even three for plus sizes, because they vary so much more than straight sizes do.

I actually emailed them on Friday afternoon and left some constructive criticism (and an expression of dismay) at their cutting off their sizes at size 22, and how their clothes were poor construction/overpriced/cheap fabrics/sized strangely.  Guess what I got in response today?  The explanation that they posted on Facebook, cut and pasted into an email.

Great customer service huh?

All this, PLUS I discover that they go to size US28 (about a size 32Aus) and offer cheaper prices to customers in the US.  But customers in their own country don’t get that, oh no.

As I say to all plus-size retailers that I give criticism to – I want to give them my money.  I want to become a loyal customer who tells everyone how awesome they are.  I want to spend too much money on their clothes and complain I’m broke.  I want to hang about their shop on a twice weekly basis, annoying their staff asking when the new stock they’ve been advertising on Facebook comes in.  I want people to see me with their shopping bags, to ask me where I got that cute top/dress/boots/pants/skirt.  I want my straight sized friends to say “Damn, I wish those fit me!”  Again, I want to give them my money.  And lots of it.

But they don’t seem to want me to do those things.  They don’t want to size clothes to my body, they don’t want to provide clothes that last, or are of pleasant fabrics, and the certainly don’t want to offer a price that is reasonable for the product they are selling.  It is very, very clear they don’t want my  money.

So until they prove that they DO in fact want my money, I’m going to give that money, and praise, and word-of-mouth advertising to companies who do.  Like Autograph Fashion**.  Who LISTEN to their customers, make attempts to make them happy, and acknowledge that their customers include those who are very fat, and that they need to create clothes that adequately fit those very fat bodies.

City Chic – learn from your big sister.  She has much to teach you.

* City Chic have almost the same boots as the tall riding boot from Autograph.  Autograph’s cost $99.99.  City Chic have them at, wait for it… $299.95
**I hate having to add this caveat, but there has been a very vocal claim that I am “selling out” by praising Autograph because they send me free products.  If Autograph get it wrong, I am going to say so, free products or not.  Just as loudly as I call City Chic out here.

Super Fat Clothing Woes – A Crowd Sourced Post

Published March 22, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Twitter is bloody awesome yo.

After a conversation with a friend via email over the past few days about the quality of plus-sized clothing, particularly clothes for we Super Fats, in sizes 22 and over (I chose 22 because size 20 is where many supposed “plus-size” lines cut off) as opposed to the quality of straight sized clothing, I threw out the following question on Twitter (over two tweets):

Hey death fatties: do you think we are more tolerant of clothes that are poorly made because of lack of options? Eg weird fit/crap fabric?  I’m particularly curious for those at a size 22 or above. Do you think you tolerate lower quality in clothing?

Well… did I get an overwhelming response!  Over a hundred replies in about 6 hours.  Aye caramba.

It seems like I hit a real nerve with this particular topic.  To be honest, I am not surprised, being a death fatty myself, I’m quite used to the frustration of not being able to find, or afford, clothing of reasonable quality to fit my body.

The overwhelming response was that yes, many Super Fats do tolerate poor quality garments, simply because there are no other options, or at least, no other options that they can afford.  As @silentbeep3000 says:

yes i tolerate lower quality of clothing because i’d rather have clothes than not.

I saw this sentiment echoed over and over again.  From clothes that are poorly made, to those that are made of cheap, uncomfortable fabrics through to clothes that are cut badly and do not fit the bodies they are designed to be worn by, lower quality clothing is pretty much the norm for those in sizes over a size 22.  That’s without even getting into whether or not the styles are something fashionable that we like.

@erinvk says:

Yes. I am so happy to be wearing something fashionable on my body that I am happy to hand sew tears after one or two wears.

How often have you found yourself mending garments because a) you love them b) you know you won’t get another like it and c) your options are very limited when it comes to clothes that will fit you and look good?  I know I have a mending basket that sits beside my sofa, so that I can mend when I watch DVD’s.

There were also several mentions from Super Fats regarding learning to sew, so that they may properly mend, repurpose or make from scratch clothes that are of a reasonable quality, cost and fit.  @SabrinaSpiher says (over several tweets):

Bad cut is worse to me than shoddy material/craftsmanship. I’ll reject stuff that’s too big in the rise or tight in the waist but if it’s cheap and falls apart and gets holes … I’ll tolerate that. Not much choice, really.  My friend is an amateur seamstress. She says this summer she’ll help me learn simple sewing for shirts, skirts, dresses.

Bad cut/shape is a repeated complaint as well.  Many plus-sized women find that clothes are made so cheaply that they are from a design that manufacturers can churn out en masse, with little regard to how they would fit a fat body.  As @andreakc73 says:

It’s not long enough (the shirts) or you are suppose to be fat and short. Little given to any shape above a 22. Expensive too.

We see the same styles over and over and over again because they are cheap to manufacture.  Go into any plus-size retail chain, and tally up how many surplice necklines, shark-bite hems, peasant tops, shoe-string/empire-line maxi dresses and gypsy skirts you will see.  Regardless of whether or not these actually fit a fat body properly, or the underwear worn beneath them, they’re cheap and are considered “flattering”, so there are a plethora of them to be found.  Personally I like surplice necklines, shark-bite hems and empire-line maxi’s, but I don’t want my entire wardrobe to comprise of them and only them.

Of course, even if you like a style and a cut, the fabric quite regularly lets you down.  This from @AbigailNussey:

The summer dresses? Hot fabrics. The winter dresses? Thin as paper. All of them? Too $$$.

And @silentbeep3000 refers to having to choose between good properties in a garment, rather than being able to find a combination of all:

ideally i’d have great natural fibers AND good style. I rarely get both. I so often have to pick between the two

Which brings us to pricing.  Even when the garments are cheaply made of unpleasant fabrics, we have to suffer through them being overpriced.  @jennifergearing says:

I wouldn’t mind lower quality if it was priced that way, but if I’m paying $50+ for a top it makes me sad.

Coupled with this tweet from @MadamQ:

I wouldn’t mind so much if they came at Supré prices etc. Autograph a prime offender with their acrylic and poly!

So why aren’t there any options for plus-sizes to a full range of sizes (not just stopping at 20 or 22) for budget clothes like Supré?  For those of you outside of Australia, Supré are a straight size clothing retailer who sell mass produced clothes at very budget prices.  There are lots of others like them in Australia now, like Valley Girl, Cotton On and such.  Where are the clothes for plus-sized customers that are mass produced but ultra budget?  The answer is those mass produced, cheap clothes are being sold at a premium to customers who have little or no other options.  Unlike straight sizes, we cannot take our money elsewhere (though some options are starting to open up with online shopping, particularly from retailers like Yours Clothing), so there is no incentive for them to provide bargain prices.

As @bargainfatshion shares:

While thin people usually have many shops to choose from, all offering a slightly different fit, death fats have 1 or 2.

What it boils down to is that the level of quality for a garment costing say $50 or $100 is markedly lower for plus-sizes than it is for straight-sizes.  How often do you hear that old trope that fat people are poorly dressed and frumpy?  Perhaps this is because when we spend $50 on a garment, all we get is shoddy and frumpy?  As @sweetnfat says:

I get frustrated when these poor-fitting clothes wear out quickly, but can’t afford $50-$100 for one or two pieces.

There is a whole lot of classism at work too.  Quite often, the more upmarket retailers ignore fat bodies altogether, either cutting off at size 20 (I’m looking at you Leona Edmiston) or simply not holding any plus-sized lines at all.  From @DBFiveGirl (several tweets):

apparently well paid, professional women are not meant to be bigger than s16/18. We’re meant to be unemployed it seems.  DJs (David Jones department store) at Bondi Junction have no fatties section as apparently no affluent fat women live in the eastern suburbs. Total otherness

When it comes down to it, not only our quality of clothing is affected by the lack of options for Super Fats.  As @ThePlusSideofMe says:

…not only my style, but the quality of my clothing is dependent on what is offered.

And @downtogirth says:

my biggest gripe is not quality, but style. My style is dictated by what I can fit into & what I can fit into is not my style.

When your choices are limited to just a few sources, and those sources have limited styles (see my mentions earlier about the repeated design features), how you express yourself through your clothing choices is severely limited.  No matter how much you want to dress yourself in a particular style or sub-culture, if there are no clothes available to you in your size at a price you can afford, then you are simply not able to do that.

It’s not just limited to women’s plus-size clothing.  This from @bigboyfashion:

Yes. When you feel like you don’t have any options, you’ll wear whatever you can find, and that sucks.

And this from @bilt2tweet

Definitely. If you can’t make your own you’ve no choice but 2 wear what you can get frm a store. Crap quality poor fit or no

and

I’m a 4XL mens and I’ve bought clothes that didn’t survive the second washing. This after paying 65 – 75% MORE for it than Reg

But most of all, through lack of options and quality of clothing for Super Fats, there is a whole lot of discrimination at work.  Even if something is of poor quality and you try to protest it, there are often aspersions cast at you.  As @snicketyflick says:

& gods forbid that you go to return something instore it’s like they think eww fattie wore it to death and is trying to con us

Most importantly, having to work so hard to find clothes that are suitable, reasonable quality and affordable perpetuates the stigmatisation of fat people.  From @DBFiveGirl:

I never feel more marginalized as a fatty than when I am shopping for clothing in stores.

So what do we do about this?  We Super Fats are restricted so much that we have to spend an inordinate amount of time sourcing clothes that are attractive, of reasonable quality fabrics, well made and finally affordable, that we are unable to spend that time focusing on other aspects of our lives.  It affects public perception of us, our employment prospects, how we are treated by other professionals (both within our work and our general lives), our finances, how we spend our time (I know I’d rather do a lot of things than spend time mending shoddy clothes) and most importantly, our self esteem.

It’s about so much more than just being able to shop for cute things.

Thanks also to @StilettoSiren, @ilaeria, @astryid, @SassyCupcakes, @mimbles and @mymilkspilt who also shared similar experiences, feelings and frustrations as the tweets above.

Bemoaning Bras

Published January 10, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve been poorly over the past 24 hours.  A headache, then nausea, and what I think is an earache.  This morning I woke up with a bit of a cough.  I think just a summer head-cold, not surprising in all the damp we’re dealing with here in Queensland at the moment.

Today I stayed home from work, and spent up until about 3pm either trying to sleep off the ick, or just watching DVD’s and resting, trying to make myself better.   Mostly I was doing ok, but for some reason my chest was really, really hurting.  Around my ribs, like someone was pressing in against my sides.

Now of course, as much as I can talk about not listening to the concern trolls, be they anonymous commenters, friends/family/colleagues or just the bloody media, sometimes when one isn’t feeling well, and is a bit tired and emotional, the bullshit seeps into one’s brain.  So by about 4pm, I was having panic attacks (being prone to anxiety, these are my usual response to worry and stress) about these pains around my chest.

At some point, I had the thought that my bra was bothering me, it was feeling really uncomfortable, so I went and took it off and swapped it over for one of the better quality new ones I have.

Lo and behold, within half an hour… no more bloody chest pains!  The cheap, dodgy old bra I was wearing at home on my sick day was HURTING me!

So it’s particularly serendipitous that just this morning I was reading this post from The Rotund, aka the delightful Marianne Kirby about the lack of accessibility to decent bras for fat women.  What follows below started out as a comment to Marianne’s post, but considering the coincidence, I think it’s worth a blog post on it’s own.

Bras, oh bras!  This is the one area of clothing for plus-sizes gets me REALLY riled up.

Particularly as every time I bemoan the unavailability of bras that fit, look good and most importantly, hold my tits up, someone refers me to the ONE plus-size bra specialist in my city of over a million people.  ONE.

I want to scream at them that I’m well aware of the store, I’ve been there and even bought from there.  Yes, they have large cup size bras.  But the majority of the stock is in straight sizes, not plus sizes, with large cups.  And the plus sizes tend to stop at size 20 or 22.  Then the tiny few that do go over that size (generally to stop at a size 26, which I am lucky to fit into) don’t actually structurally support me very well.  Which left me with ONE bra that fit me, and supported my breasts.

And it is as ugly as a bucket full of smashed crabs AND cost me $90. (8 years ago, I imagine it’s well up over the $100 mark now).  This meant, at $90+ per bra, I could only buy one at a time, and could really only afford it once or twice per year.  I won’t name the store, most Brisbane plus-size shoppers know it.  I will also say that they had shitty customer service, the women working there grunted and pointed to the ugliest corner of the store, and when I asked for a fitting treated me like a piece of meat.

The only place that has a bra that a) fits b) supports me and c) I can afford to buy more than one every now and again, is Target.  It only goes to a 26E, but I am one of the lucky ones that fits that last size.  And of course it’s as ugly as a dropped pie.  But it works in holding my tits up without causing me major back pain, so I buy it.  I’m so very lucky that it comes in beige, AND white, AND black.

One bra.  One.  In a state capital city of an affluent, western country.  In a city of over a million people.  There is one bra that just suits my needs, available for me to buy.  In fact, a few years ago, Target were charging double the price they do now for bras.  The one they had that fit me then (which they have discontinued now) was $56.  The one they have now fluctuates usually between $25 and $30, depending on what promotions they have on.

Yet how many itty bitty bras are out there?  Or even moderate sized bras?  THOUSANDS.  There are whole stores devoted to them.  Big sales on at the convention centre, tossing them away for a few dollars, clearing stock.  Acres and acres of floorspace in department stores with fancy sexy styles in designer brands.  Target, Kmart, Big W, Myer all have great big floor spaces devoted to pretty bras at the moment, but all straight or tiny sizes.

Do you know what’s the real irony?  People, including advertisers, media and marketing, make fun of very large breasted fat women, playing on the saggy tits “joke” and yet nobody will actually provide adequate bras to prevent this.  Surprise surprise, most very large breasted women don’t want their breasts to be dragged down by gravity, it HURTS if nothing else, but because there is practically fuck all available for them to do so, they settle on ill fitting bras that simply don’t do the work they need to hold their breasts into place comfortably.

When I was in the US in late 2007/early 2008, and I went to Lane Bryant, I found several bras that fit, were comfortable and structurally did their job, even a couple that were cute, at a mere $24 – $28, so knowing that $56 price tag back home, I bought a dozen bras and brought them home with me.  I spent more on bras than I did on accomodation in a lot of places over there!

I am very lucky, I can afford to buy several of the Target bras (particularly when they had them on mega mega sale like last week, got them marked right down to $12 ea… almost unheard of!) so that I don’t have to rotate two or three the whole week.

I used to have to do that though.  I used to only be able to afford three or four bras per year, even the ones under $50, and since I have to wear a bra every single day, because of my rack of doom, it meant I would be constantly washing them and wearing them three or more times per week.  Which meant they wore out REALLY quickly.  I was forever mending them, taking wires out of old ones and sewing them back into less old ones, re-stitching seams and so on.  This is the first time in my life I’ve been able to afford to just go and buy another one (so long as Target don’t discontinue this one or jack the price back up) if one tears or an underwire breaks.  It’s the first time I’ve had enough to go a whole week before having to wash them so I had enough clean ones to wear.   I can’t tell you how liberating it is to know that so long as I do laundry on a weekend as per usual, there are enough bras to get me through the week.  How liberating it is to know that if I need another bra, I can afford to go and get one and have somewhere local to me that I can get one?

I’m one of the lucky ones.  How many plus-sized women don’t have another bra to change into when the one they are wearing breaks, or is hurting them?  How many of them don’t at least have one affordable bra that they know is almost always in stock at a store easy for them to get to, that they can go and pick up when they need to?  How many of them simply can’t afford to buy the one bra that fits them because it’s ridiculously priced?  How many of them are outside the sizing range, in a cup size bigger than an E, or a band size bigger than a 26, or heaven forbid, outside both sizings?

So how about some of those plus-size retailers out there start taking their customer service seriously and providing us with bras that tick all the boxes.  That are affordable.  That fit.  That hold our breasts comfortably and for the whole day.  And for fuck’s sake PLEASE make them PRETTY!

On Shopping and Shaping a Wardrobe

Published December 30, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

In my lunch hour today I went shopping with my friend Nadia.  Originally I just went looking for a pair of black Mary-Janes, my old pair had died and I realised that other than ballet flats, I didn’t have any flat, black, comfortable shoes that I could wear with tights.  I really, really need some good quality shoes that I can be on my feet all day in, so that was my goal.

We popped into Rivers and they had all of their sandals and casual shoes for $20 a pair, so when I found both a pair of very cute patent leather and suede Mary-Janes in black, and another pair of cute leather Mary-Janes in a kind of olive colour, I bought both.

Then since the Rivers store is only two stores away from the Autograph store, and Autograph were having a 70% off sale… well, you know Nadia encouraged me and all.  SHE DID!!  Anyway, I came away with 3 tank tops, 2 dresses, a chemise, a bolero and a pair of swimmers, all for $93!  Weeeee!  I do love me some shopping.

Now let me just clear something up here.  It has been suggested in a few quarters (including one abusive email that I received) that I am somehow “selling out” to Autograph because they have sent me clothes to review.  Yes, they have been very generous, and I really appreciate that they’ve chosen me to do this with.  But that does not mean I’m doing some kind of “blog for product” thing here.  I will be the FIRST to speak up when Autograph don’t get it right.  In fact, there is a woman who works in their Brisbane Myer Centre store who is bloody awful at customer service, it would kill her to be pleasant and friendly.  (Though the other lady that works there is really nice, I don’t want to tar them all with the surly lady brush).  Autograph are in no way perfect when it comes to plus-size retail, (prices are still a bit steep for some things, still a whole lot of crossover busts and still far too many scratchy, non-breathing synthetic fabrics) but right now, review garments or not, they are getting some things right.

Not to mention that I also still BUY from them, because they’re also the one store that I can get to easily that have a) clothes to fit my death fatty, apple-shaped body b) prices I can afford, though usually on their sale racks and c) something that I like, even if I don’t like all of it.  If they want to send me clothes to review, I’m going to bloody take it and give honest reviews.  When I think they do good, I’ll say so, when I think something sucks, I’ll say so.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I was having a little think about all the shopping I’ve done lately.  For the first time in my entire life, my wardrobe is bursting at the seams.  I actually have more clothes than I have space for them and that I’m able to wear.  Not only have I bought clothes (and yes, received clothes) from Autograph, but I’ve also had a bit of a spree from Evans, Yours, thrift sales, Target and when I can get to them, Big W and Kmart.  So I’ve added to my wardrobe quite considerably over the past few months.  I’ve become adept at finding marvelous bargains, mostly through the word of mouth online, so that I can afford a whole lot more than I once would have been able to as well.

The reason it’s so stuffed is because I’ve actually not removed anything much from there for the past decade.  I still cling to clothes I bought ages ago.  Marianne and Lesley have talked about this in one of their early Two Whole Cakes fatcasts, the phenomena of fat women buying clothes that are in their size simply because they fit, and are affordable, and then hanging on to them forever because they might never find them again.  As I looked through my wardrobe, trying to make room for the new stuff, I realised that this is exactly what I have been doing.  What if I can never get a decent pair of black pants like these again?  But I loved this skirt so much, it doesn’t fit me any more, but it was so beautiful, what if I never owned anything this beautiful again?  This is one of the first dresses I bought after I got my first decent job, I just have to hang on to it, it’s SO significant.  I bought this when I was in the US, and I’d never seen anything like it back here, I can’t let it go.

It is time for me to shed these things that I never wear, that don’t fit, that aren’t appropriate for my current lifestyle.  Not only because they take up too much room in my small flat, and not only because I can no longer wear them, but because they are representative of an old way of thinking about myself as a fat woman.  They are the things I clung to because they flattered me, because they were the few crumbs of what I could find to fit my fat body, because I might not find something else.

I clung to these clothes like one clings to a dying relationship… because I was scared might not have another one.

Things have changed.  I have changed.  Where once I waited for the clothes to miraculously appear for me to buy, now I have the power to tell retailers what I want and tell them that they can have my money when they provide it.  Where once I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing things without sleeves, or high waisted skirts, or fairly body-con dresses, or dresses at all, now thanks to fabulous fatshionistas who have gone before me, I will be bold, wear things that please me, try new things, be proud of my body.  Where once I would have hidden in black, shapeless sacks, now I look for colour, for shape, for style.  Where once I had the option of one or two budget department stores that had a small selection at the back to fit my body, I now at least have a couple of solely plus-size clothing retailers and some fantastic overseas retailers selling online at an affordable rate with shipping that is reasonable.  Not to mention the smaller, independent sellers who are cropping up as well.  The internet has not only opened up a world for them to sell to, but it has opened up a world of contacts to share and network when it comes to finding plus-sized fashion that is affordable and desirable.

Not to mention that I have built a career over the past decade and through bloody hard work and passion for my field, can now afford to shop when I feel like it, as well as when I simply need to.

I can say goodbye to the garments that I have clung to for so many years.  Because I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things, clothing-wise.  Because I don’t have to stay in that bad relationship any more for fear of not being able to find another.  Even the fabulous garments that I have metaphorically outgrown, or desired but never really connected with can go, remembered fondly but bid farewell, perhaps for another to love, as a better fit than they were for me.

Plus-Size Clothing Retailers Take Note – Positivity Makes Money!

Published December 5, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

As part of the + Plus-Size Plus + campaign I’m working on to improve the variety, quality and price of plus-sized clothing options from major chain retailers in Australia.  I’m focusing on the major chain retailers like Target, Big W, KMart, Myer, David Jones, City Chic, My Size, Autograph Fashion and the like because these are huge companies with a lot of buying power, and they’re the places the most plus-sized women go to first for their clothing needs.  Those retailers are the most prevalent, offer a range of price points that cover the broadest range of Australian women’s incomes, and in being the biggest companies, have the most room to give.  I believe they also have an obligation to their customers to offer ALL of their customers an equal range, prices and quality, not just the straight sized ones.

One thing I’ve been doing as I think about ways to go about this, is read the social media pages of these retailers.  Some of them don’t have any presence at all in a plus-sized clothing retailer capacity, but the specialists like City Chic, Autograph Fashion and MySize all have Facebook pages and I follow them all.  One thing I really notice is that every time one of them posts, most of the comment threads dissolve very quickly into a whole lot of body loathing.  It only takes one or two comments until the “flattering” concept comes up (usually a big old bun fight about whether plus-size retailers should bother selling sleeveless clothes) and then ends up with a mix of “We fat women shouldn’t wear *insert garment feature here*.” or “I really like that but I could never wear something that bares my *insert body part here*.”

This got me thinking about the marketing we see from plus-size retailers, the language they use about the bodies of their customers and how they could change their marketing to really encourage women to enjoy wearing clothes/fashion, which I believe would encourage women to BUY more clothes/fashion.

What I would really like to see, is one of these retailers be brave enough to come up with a truly body positive, empowering marketing campaign for their products.  Instead of playing on the whole “flattering” concept, and tiptoeing around the fact that their customers have fat bodies, how about a campaign that focuses on raising the self esteem of their customers?  Here’s what I’d like to see a plus-size clothing retailer do:

  • Get rid of the euphemisms.  No more crap about “real women” and curves/voluptuous and all of those things.  Just call themselves plus-size clothing retailers and focus on selling plus-sized clothing.  I know they can’t/won’t use the word “fat”, but let’s stop with the euphemisms that imply shame for being plus-sized.  Let’s stop pretending that your customers are not plus-sized/fat.
  • Focus on positive body messages.   Fabulous fashion for fabulous women.  Love your body, put our clothes on it.  Be confident in our fashion.  Gorgeous you, gorgeous clothes.  Messages like this.  No more talk of “flattering”.
  • Use models who actually look like the women who will be buying the product.  Let’s face it, most size 14 or 16 women, while they are catered for in these stores, don’t shop there.  You can get size 14 and 16 and sometimes 18 in quite a few straight size sections.  There are a lot of women in a size 14 and 16 who are not even going to go near a plus-size section.  The plus-size retailers are catering to those of us who cannot buy from the straight-sizes at all.  How about some models with bodies that look like ours?  Often the models they use are not even plus-sized at all.  UK blogger Lauren from Pocket Rocket Fashion has done posts this week on the topic (here and here).  I shared the first post on + Plus-sizes Plus + and the response I got back was that women want to see what clothes look like on bodies similar to their own.
  • Seeing women that look like we do is only going to make us feel better about ourselves in the long term.  Especially if these women are depicted as fashionable, happy, fun and glamorous.
  • Value your customers, understand what they want, treat them like they’re special (after all, they’re giving you their money and keeping you in business, that makes them VERY special) and understand that they have different needs to straight-sized customers, but want the same experiences.

Can you imagine how awesome, and how radical, a marketing campaign that promoted body love, self esteem and positive representations of their actual customers (rather than “aspirational” representations that would never actually purchase the stock) would be?  Particularly from a major chain retailer?  How many women would be empowered and inspired to enjoy dressing and fashion and shopping?

I know that’s a company I would want to give my money to.

+ Plus-Sizes Plus +: Tips and Tricks for Feedback

Published November 15, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Just a tiny bit of housekeeping before I get started.  I have made an Operation Baldy ticker, it’s over there on the right.  As you can see I’m up to $270 already!!  Woot!  Thank you again to those who have donated, and if you can help me to raise $1000 for the Australian Cancer Council, it would be most appreciated.  Plus you get to see me shave my head bald as an egg!

Now, I think it’s time we did some more work on getting our message across to those plus-size retail chains again, don’t you?

One of the most effective ways I’ve had of communicating with a lot of businesses, not just plus-size retail chains, is through writing to them via email (and snail mail too).  Many businesses have KPI’s (key performance indicators) that set a time frame around responding to written customer contact.  For example, they may set an initial contact within 1 working day, and then a follow up, more detailed contact within 5 working days.  Particularly when they are complaints and there is something to be resolved.  They may also have a formula for changing their business practices on the strength of the number of requests they get on a certain issue.  For example, one business I used to work for believed that for every letter they got asking for a change in their business practices, there were a hundred other people who also wanted the same change, but didn’t write to them for whatever reason.  Then if they got 10 written contact items, they considered that a thousand people wanted something changed, then it was worth the time and effort to do so.

So, how to approach them?  I have been writing feedback letters since I was a teenager, and I’ve learnt the hard way what not to do!  I’m not going to share how many times I’ve either pissed the business off or made an idiot of myself… it’s too embarrassing!

What I have learnt are the following rules.

  1. Be polite.  Ranting, swearing, calling them names and being nasty is not going to get you anywhere.
  2. Be clear.  Tell them exactly what it is you you are not happy with.  It’s no use saying you’re not happy and that you’re upset and so on without stating very clearly why.
  3. Be respectful.  Remember that it’s somebody’s job to deal with your complaints, and if you’re going to treat them like dirt, they’re not going to be interested in helping you.
  4. Give clear examples.  If it’s a product you are finding fault with, tell them the exact product.  If it is service, tell them as much as you know about the person who gave you bad service.  Go back to Rules 1 and 3, don’t call the person names, or swear about them.  If you know their name, say so.  If not, give the time and date it happened, the name of the store or branch, and respectful detail.  Do not say “that dumb blonde”, say “the staff member I spoke to was a blonde woman, wearing a green top.”
  5. Don’t be greedy.  Ask them to repair or replace an item, or refund your money, but demanding extra free stuff is rude and greedy.
  6. Tell them you will come back to them if they improve the issue you are complaining about.  Why would they bother helping someone they think they’ve totally lost as a customer?
  7. Mention word-of-mouth if you have talked to someone about their product/service.  Word-of-mouth is very, very important to businesses.
  8. Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but please, make it at least make sense.  Use a spell check function if you have to.  Ask someone else to read it if you’re feeling a bit unsure.
  9. Very important rule this one…. Praise them… and do it with honesty. You don’t have to get all “You’re awesome and I love you!” just praise something about the store/staff/product you like.  Don’t make it up, if it’s not genuine, don’t worry about it.  For example, you might say “I have always found your staff friendly and helpful, but I am really disappointed with the products you are currently offering.”
  10. At the end of your email/letter, thank them for their time, and say “I look forward to hearing from you soon on this matter.”
  11. Give proper contact details so that they can respond to you.  You wouldn’t believe the number of complaints that have to go unanswered because the sender hasn’t given their contact details clearly.

There you have it.  Basically, those are things that have got me through to a lot of businesses.  Not all of them really listen (Unilever, you suck!) but many of them do, and many will try to resolve the issue for you.

Now, how about I put one together as an example, and then if you want to use any bits of it, you are more than welcome to.

I’m going to focus on Target Australia with this one.  Mostly because I am really unhappy with how they shove their plus-size range down the back of the store like they are ashamed of their plus-sized customers!  Or are ashamed of the stock.  Either way, we deserve better than that.  So let’s see…

Dear Target Australia,

I am writing to you today to tell you how disappointed I am with the way your plus-size clothing range is laid out in your stores.  I am a frequent customer of the Myer Centre Target store, and I have noticed over the years that I have been shopping in your store that the plus-size clothing section has been worked further and further back in your store, to the point that it is now in the far back corner next to the fire exit, fitting room and employee access.  When I am in the suburbs, which is fairly frequently due to my work, I usually pop into the Target store for a look around, and I noticed that pushing the plus-size clothing to a back corner of the store seems to be the norm for all of your stores.

This makes me feel that you do not want either me, or the product you expect me to purchase, to be seen by anyone else in your store.  It means that when I once would have felt welcome and comfortable shopping in your store, I now feel like I am only catered for because you feel you have to, and that you don’t care what I, as a plus-sized woman who enjoys shopping for clothing, needs or feels when it comes to shopping in your store.

I understand the need to work the layout to fit things in to maximise your customer’s spending, but does this have to be done at the expense of one group of customers?  Could you not perhaps put shoes, or general accessories in this space, where everyone equally is affected, not just your plus-sized customers?

At the front of your stores, there is a statement that reads:

Every Australian has the right to look good and feel good about the way they dress and live.  At Target, we aim to make this achievable with stylish, fashionable clothing and homewares accessible to everyone.

Recently I wrote to you about the lack of plus-size options in your stores these days, and I feel the way that the plus-sized clothing is pushed to the back of the store in an unattractive location, and not displayed with the same styling and finesse as the straight sized clothing contradicts your statement that is clear for all to read as they enter your store.  Add to this the news that you are considering offering your Hot Options range to only a size 22, it makes me feel that as a Size 22 to 26 woman, you are not very interested in my custom in your stores.

I was actually shown the statement above by a friend of mine who I had mentioned the location of plus-size clothing to, when he snapped a picture of the sign in front of your store and sent it to me to ask if I had seen it.

I want to continue to shop at Target, your prices are very good, the service consistently polite and friendly, and your stock is usually of a good quality.  Value for money is really important to me, but so is being valued as a customer, regardless of my size or shape.

I hope that you will consider my complaint, and think about the message that you are sending to the customers you are catering to with your plus-sized clothing lines.  As the average Australian woman is a size 14, it is not a small minority of customers, but a significant portion of the Australian population.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Fat Heffalump

Of course I won’t sign it Fat Heffalump when I send it to Target!

A friend really did send me that picture of the statement outside one of their stores, if you wish to see it for yourself, click here.

I’ve actually just sent this one to Target Australia now.  If you wish to contact them yourself, here is their contacts page.  The feedback form is easy to use and they do respond.

Please feel free to use this letter to base your own on, but don’t send it exactly as I’ve written it, because businesses do disregard copied letters.

If you wish to contact other plus-size retail chains (including department/variety stores), here are a few links for you:

Autograph Fashion

City Chic

My Size

Myer

David Jones

Big W

Kmart

The most important advice I can give you is to take the time and contact them.  Unless you do, they don’t know that you’re not happy with what they offer.  And unless we all do, they don’t know how many of us are unhappy with what they offer.

I am also working on a comprehensive plus-size consumer survey (not one that is loaded to answer direct questions, but gives broad feedback) and more campaigns to communicate to plus-size retail chains of the level of service and product we want.

Until then, please feel free to join the Facebook group and offer suggestions and ask questions that we can collectively answer.

And if you’ve had any success stories with contacting companies with complains, please share in the comments below!

Getting it Right: Yours Clothing

Published November 6, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve been reading all these fabulous blogs from fatshionistas in the UK about a day trip to Yours Clothing that they had earlier this week.

Yours are a UK plus-size clothing retail chain that I think are really starting to get it right about selling mass produced clothing to their customers.  Firstly they start at a size 14 and go all the way up to size 32 (UK sizes).  Their prices are reasonable for mass produced clothing (in fact, just looking at the website which has a conversion to $AU, I’d say a lot of their stuff is downright bargain) and they have a really wide variety of styles and vary from the casual to the cocktail, with a bit of something for everyone.  I’ve not bought from them via mail order, but I’ve heard good things about their international mail order service, and they also have brick and mortar stores in the UK for women to go and physically touch, see and try on their products.  I can’t speak for the quality of their stock either, as I don’t own any, but there are several other bloggers who seem to really like what they do.  And for the prices they’re listing, one wouldn’t be expecting double seams or hand stitching, you know?  Mass produced is mass produced for a reason.

But what I am really impressed by is their engaging with their customers, and those people who are their best marketing, the word of mouth of bloggers and social media.  They invited in half a dozen fatshion bloggers for a day spent at their office and warehouse.  They showed them through the warehouse, through the studio where they photograph the models and products for the marketing, and spent some time with each of the bloggers talking to them about what they do, what they like, their blogs and the Yours Clothing website.  They let them try on a bunch of the clothes, had some fun in the studio.

The two most significant things are that they treated these plus-sized women like welcome guests and acknowledged their love of fun and fashion, and that they actually listen to their customers, rather than assuming that marketing stats are anything to go by.

You can read some rundowns of the events by the bloggers here:

Plus Size Beauty

Messy Carla

Cupcake’s Clothes

I believe that Australia’s plus-size retail chains have a lot to learn from Yours Clothing.  By encouraging word of mouth marketing from their very customers, they’re acknowledging that there is a considerable market out there for mainstream plus-sized fashion, and that by giving those who are vocal and visible online a chance to see behind the scenes and talk about the company, they’re speaking directly to the customers who would be buying their product.  By offering affordable products of a wide variety, they’re also acknowledging the right of their customer to have choice in what they wear and how they style themselves.

I’d like to challenge Australian plus-size retail chains to start thinking this way.  Make a difference huh?

*if you haven’t already done so, I invite you to join + Plus-Size Plus +, the campaign to improve plus-sized clothing options in Australia (international members welcome)

Autograph Fashion Respond

Published November 3, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Well as per my previous post, I’m only going to concentrate on positive topics this month here on Fat Heffalump, because I really do think I need a break from the negative stuff, and probably many of you are feeling the same way.

As you may remember from my earlier posts (here, here and here) regarding the campaign I have started to improve plus-sized clothing from major retailers (Facebook group here), my original contact with a plus-size retailer was with Autograph Fashion, which is a purely plus-size clothing retailer here in Australia.  They are owned by a parent company who also own City Chic, Millers, Crossroads and several other chain retailers.  In my first post on the topic, I voiced a strong, but constructive criticism of the road they were taking their “fashion” lines.  I posted a link to my blog post on their Facebook page, and invited them to comment.

The positive news is that they did contact me, via a comment on the post.  I haven’t published it because a) I wanted to give them time to follow through and b) it contained personal contact details that I’m sure they don’t really want published all over the internets.  But here is the comment with the contact details removed:

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

I’m impressed with their initial contact, it’s personal and professional, and shows that they did listen.

Of course I leapt on the chance to review some clothes for them, and we’ve had some correspondence while we’ve made that happen, and I will say at every step of the way I have been impressed with both Elissa, and another representative I’ve had contact with.

So last Friday a rather substantial parcel arrived from Autograph, with six garments for me to review.  I will be reviewing each piece individually, because as well as how they look, and how they fit, I also want to see how they wear for a full day (or at least an event out) and how they wash as well.

There is also one garment that is not my cup of tea style-wise, so to make sure it goes somewhere it will be appreciated, I’m going to set up a competition here on my blog to give it away.

So, keep your eye out here for the first review piece for the items Autograph have sent me, and my first ever competition really soon.