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You know… I have the sweetest spot for Nordstrom, especially as it pertains to plus size fashion. Always at the forefront of inclusivity in fashion, and for a while, Nordstrom was where it was at… and sometimes, it still is. HOWEVER, with the latest news of them looking to shake up their sizing offerings- including more of our sizes on the floor, I had to stop and think about this…
Something did not feel right.
As you peruse the news, everyone is singing their praises, shouting how happy they are for this move, and thinking this is a huge leap for inclusivity… BUT! But. While I appreciate their awareness of the need to include a range of sizes on the floor, I find it interesting as many department stores and chains are struggling financially, NOW is the time they (not only Nordstrom) realize that the 20-billion-dollar market may be their savior. NOW, after they have removed plus sizes from their floor, after they have stocked their online shops with contemporary plus size designers, and after their bottom line starts to hurt…
Now. After we have stopped really going in store and sourcing our fun contemporary plus size designers and fashion online.
You see, I have collaborated with Nordstrom and HauteLook many times in the past, I even held in-store events with them. But! There has been this lull (they’ve pulled out plus sizes from many of their stores) annnnnd when you look at Nordstrom as a whole (and its department store friends), I cannot help but to notice a few things missing in their newfound shifts…
What’s Missing with their new approach?
Well, let me break it down for you…
- Plus sizes should have always been at the forefront… but you know, cultural shifts happen and the plus size community has been putting in that work to make you pay attention. Recognize, celebrate, and relate to us! We obviously have money to spend.
- INCLUDE plus sizes in ALL of your in-store marketing, look books, and advertisements. Not just for the plus size “page,” not just for the websites, and not just for a new designer. Integrate us into your lifestyle marketing (kind of like what Kohl’s, Target, and TJMaxx is doing now…)
- You have a blog for your brand, right? Well, feature plus size influencers, designers, and product on there… not just sprinkled throughout, but serious planning into your editorial calendar.
- Make sure you also include and feature influencers and models of color AND size. Not a 12 who barely makes it by, but give us 18s, 20s, etc. Give us variation and the diversity we crave, demand, and deserve. I would like to note that the growth of the plus size fashion industry has been championed by women of color… please be mindful of this and include those of us in the community who have been here for years- and I am not talking about just me. There are sooooooo many others who have come before me who have created the foundation for today’s plus size fashion industry.
- There are a variety of influencers who appeal to various lifestyles. You have your wear to work bloggers, your contemporary bloggers, your fashion on-a-budget bloggers… they do exist in the plus size market, just as the mainstream fashion market. Use them.
- When you have campaigns for your store, include plus sizes. Not a page or 2, with non-fashion inspired or uninspired basics/essentials. Have you perused the Nordstrom Anniversary sale catalogs? Maybe two pages but all we were given were essentials- no inspiration. I want to promote and share, but you gotta give me something to share, y’all. Give us fashion just as you would our mainstream counterparts… as you can see, we have money to spend- 20 billion to be exact.
- Floor space- make it appealing. Give us the floorspace, departments, and layouts just as you would your straight size counterparts. We want to feel welcome, thought of, and appreciated. Work with the plus size brands to build out mini shops as you would DKNY, Theory, Vince, and DVF. If not, you will end back up here, financially.
- MARKET to us. Include the plus size media (yes, this is a thing) in your outreach. Let us know that you exist. Unlike mainstream fashion, the growth of the plus size fashion industry is bottom up, not top-down like traditional fashion chains. So, this also means recognizing the plus size media that has been birthed from this as well. (I am looking at you PR companies)
- Stop making up superfluous names for “plus size.” Matter of fact, drop the whole conversation and just focus on making dope plus size clothes an option and accessible to us. With all of this energy used on trying to define the brand, work on making fly clothes that we (and you) want to wear.
- Stop stopping your plus sizes at a 20. You want to make a serious impact? At the bare minimum you should be going up through a 24, but I challenge you to raise that to a 32.
These are only ten thoughts that I can readily think of, but there are more…
And let me be honest… this list does not only apply to Nordstrom, but to more than a few brands and retailers taking another look at the plus size market. We are here. Not this monolith consumer, who is collectively shy, thinking she is a work in progress, or who wants to hide her curves.
We’re a variety of women, just as the fellow straight size consumer…
Stop dumbing down the plus size fashion departments, cry wolf, and close up shop when we do not shop your areas.
Spend time getting to know who we are, what we want, and what we have to say.
You want to positively impact your bottom line? Engage us, respectfully.
I know I cannot be alone in these thoughts… I have these conversations with other bloggers, readers, and retailers… But I want to hear from you.
How do you feel about these changes? With brands finally paying attention? On time or too late?
PS. Nordstrom, holla at me… let’s talk! I love y’all and want you to win.
As someone who spent her former life in higher end department stores,
working 12 years in retail, and rocking an MBA in marketing,
I know more than a little about a lot.