Yesterday, I shared a picture on my facebook wall, which happened to be a fake. However, this is not what I am writing about today. I am writing about the conversation that ensued behind this picture and the conversation had me thinking…
In response to the picture:
“but realistically a bikini swimsuit is not a practical item for plus. While the model is still small for plus, size 10-12. Most of my plus sized 14-28 customers don’t even feel comfortable in short shorts. A tankini or a one piece would have been a little more practical sell” – A reader of the blog
In varied conversations that have spanned over two days, I have been having thoughts about this mindset, so much so that I even shared this convo on my personal page, when I got this:
“as a business owner she is right. Now if my clients ever asked for them I would supply. I think while we are trying to fight this stereotype of what the curvy girl would like to see in stores, we also have to push for self esteem.”
Mind you, both of these women own plus size shops and stores, honestly sharing their experiences in regards to plus size fashion and their personal experiences, all which raised a question for me, which I can imagine is somewhat rhetorical:
Do We, as Plus Size women, Really Want Nice Things?
As I said, this is a rhetorical one, as the most obvious question for me is a resounding YES.
HOWEVER, there are strings attached to that yes. In order for us to want and buy these nice things, a few things must happen (as they already are).
BRANDS, DESIGNERS, RETAILERS, in order to have a successful sell-through you have to get to know this woman. You cannot base prior failures or future concepts on past data, as the climate for plus size fashion has changed. The woman has changed. The demographic has evolved and changed. The plus size fashion industry has new sectors, in which women in each of these have new levels of expectations.
Plus Size women want Fashion.
Not watered down. Not covered up. Not bland tones and hues. She wants fashion.
She is not ONE woman. She is many.
Contemporary plus size, high end plus size, fast fashion, discount big box store; there is a different type of woman for each segment here and she wants to be spoken directly to in each segment. Don’t know who she is? Do a survey, dig up some research, hire consultants to help you understand what she wants and expects from you.
She loves the thrill of the find, just like every other woman- in store.
Relegating the plus size woman to only an online experience oftentimes severely diminishes her shopping experience and/or discourages her from stepping out of her fashion box.
You, the plus size boutique owner/designer/buyer must do better.
The plus size woman has smartened up and has a voice. You cannot half step in website design, styling, quality of merchandise, the size of your model, the value of your garments. There are a slew of other reasons why the plus size woman won’t shop at your store.
I for one, love nice things. I may be more laid back in my own personal style, but what I do rock is still “Nice” in the terms of higher quality fabrics, great fits and cuts, and wear. I know there are many more given the outcry and explosion of the blogs…
This feat takes a village mentality.
We all play a role in the successes (and failures) of plus size fashion. We all must put egos aside and take an educated, communicative, supportive role in this.
PLUS SIZE WOMEN– if you like something say it. If you do not like it, share WHY. The WHY is what the powers that be need to know to improve upon the next go round. If something is offensive, speak up! You have a voice and trust me, they are listening and reading! Educate yourselves about the designers or brands- their fit, cut, aesthetic, as they will vary and expectations are different at each level. Better sometimes also means investing more in yourself…
While I could really write a dissertation about this, I want to know:
How do you feel about this and I want to know your biggest gripe/ hesitation/frustration/love/happiness/tip you would share to make this better!