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OMG! White House | Black Market Is Launches WHBM Plus!

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No More Plus Sizes? Where White House Black Market Went Wrong…

From giving us life to letting us down, what happened to one of our favorite Plus Size Workwear Clothing stores, White House Black Market? Here’s our take and thoughts…

Did you know that as loudly as White House Black Market announced plus sizes, they quietly closed shop in the plus size department? Yeah… we did not know this either. We’ve received comments, emails, inbox messages… girl, we had no clue.

So, What Happened?

We loved them, they filled the hole for plus size wear to work clothing. We were so excited when they launched WHBM Plus, a brand which was already known for its upscale contemporary clothing for the modern and professional women over 30.

Though there were a couple missed opportunities with the Plus collection, we were happy to get chic professional workwear and casual wear like velvet jackets, sequined tops, embellished denim and luxe sweaters! You know, an elevated polished look! And! We all had our money ready to to shop the latest spring options and then…  poof! Their plus size department vanished.

Just GONE, girl.

Why? Not only that, but absolutely NO ONE at WHBM has talked about it. NO announcement, just gone. It is a very sad thing to see. There was so much promise here… BUT, this did get our wheels spinning, thinking about how their business missed a few key opportunities, for the curvy community.

How White House Black Market Missed the Mark

1. No in store options

With all the excitement of their collection coming out and being available, we were all ready to pay when we got into the store. It is one thing when you have a company launch plus sizes… cool. But it is a whole other frustration when you tell us that we are available online only.

Shopping online isn’t always a plus girl’s favorite thing to do. Hence the reason for our TCFStyle Expo.

We want to touch and feel, and most definitely try on what we’re buying, just like everyone else. When we heard the news about White House Black Market, we were hyped. We wanted that same opportunity as other women, but they didn’t give us much to work with. And it doesn’t make sense this omission, especially as you have so many brands now making a definitive footprint for plus size options in store: Old Navy, Target, and even Nordstrom!

So, what do we do? Go somewhere else… 

2. No inclusion in the visible promotions

White House | Black MarketWhite House Black Market missed this opportunity to kill the game with their visuals and promotions. The visuals used in this article? From their launch lookbook. However, we did not see this afterwards nor did we see them include plus sizes with their advertisements and promotions.

With their campaigns, we have not seen any plus size women included at all! The challenge with this is that companies need to show us that they want our business and that they see us. If we are not in store (such is the case here) then your online visuals have to be only that more impactful. Period.

3. No Promotion after the launch of plus sizes

To go along with number 2 (but also a point in itself), if a brand has created a collection that their audience is excited about, they need to promote that collection to reach the public! Without any promotions, not only is that appreciation missing, but also the excitement of the brand.

We had a FB live announcing this news, thanks to outreach from the brand, but after that… nothing. No more engagement across the community, that we could see. No pitches, emails, information about the new, unless we stumbled across it… nothing.

How can a business grow, if your audience does not know what is going on with you? In this day and age of plus size fashion, you have a little bit more competition. There are no “If you build it, they will come” opportunities. With new players come new rules to the business and marketing game- One we know too well…

4. Limited options in plus sizes

White House Black Market Paisley-Print High-Low Maxi Dress

Just because they may not have had anything in store doesn’t mean they couldn’t have had a lot more online to work with. With not having a lot online and nothing in-store, the plus size options were not the same as our straight sized sisters. The hero pieces? The decadent frocks? Nope. Nothing.

They did have great classics and essentials though. But in a world where Eloquii, Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart, Torrid, and other plus sized retailers are giving us blazer options and a few wear to work options, how did WHBM stand out?

Overall, White House Black Market had a lot of potential, and although we had high hopes for the brand, there were many things that could have been executed differently. With limited options and no promotional visuals, White House Black Market has closed up shop and has given up on the plus size consumer.

Cautiously optimistic, we do hope for a comeback of champions, but for now, we wait. In the meantime, we’ve got a few other options for professional workwear coming up, so stay tuned!

What are your thoughts on their quiet decision? Were there bigger issues that we missed? How did you feel about their collection?

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40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. Catherine

    February 7, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    I found out about whbm’s decision by sending the question to their customer service dept. I was terribly disappointed! I ordered several items at Christmas and love wearing them. I was anxiously looking forward to the Spring collection as well.
    I agree with you that they really missed the boat with advertising. I don’t mind shopping on line. I brought items back to the store. In fact the manager was happy to have so.ething in the store to show people.
    I loved their styles and prints and ideas for the plus size woman. I love that the styles were the same as the size 0. It made me feel normal. I at least could see what an item looked like. I’m pretty easy to please. I know what I can and cannot wear.

    • Leutisha Stills

      April 10, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      I’m more insulted than anything. Other fashion outlets have taken us plus size sisters seriously but WHBM just played with us and dropped us like we’re of no importance. And they continue to send me emails about sales and stuff, but if you don’t want to address me, you don’t want my business.

  2. Nicole Zarfos

    February 7, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    I literally had no idea they offered plus size clothing, and I buy a lot of clothes from a variety of retailers. I just had to build up a more professional wardrobe after switching jobs recently, and I would have loved some of these pieces from their lookbook! This appears to be one of those instances where a brand wants plus size dollars, but they don’t want to be “tainted” with being associated with fat people. So they hide literally any evidence that they cater to a plus-size audience. Very frustrating and disappointing.

  3. Andrea

    February 8, 2019 at 12:58 am

    I had no idea that they ever dabbled in the plus market. You would think they would want prospective customers to know that we could find what we were searching far and wide for on their website. The average woman in the US is a size 18. When are retailers going to realize that we big girls have money and are willing to drop it for some nice clothes that feel normal? What a shame. Such a lost opportunity for them and us.

  4. Michelle simpson

    February 8, 2019 at 1:39 am

    I purchased several items recently and have been very happy with the quality and beautiful options available in plus sizes. I am very disappointed and just sent a note to their customer services team. There are so few options available for corporate women and I was really excited to find an affordable place to shop. So disappointed!!

  5. Judy Ward

    February 8, 2019 at 7:46 am

    I’ve found the same problem with american eagle outfitters. They actually show plus size models in the store’s graphic design photos on the walls but do not carry plus sizes in most of the stores. Extremely disappointing!

  6. Sierra

    February 8, 2019 at 11:51 am

    This is really terrible. I hate when clothing lines shut down their plus size range, as opposed to investing more time and money into fixing where they went wrong. They didnt collaborate with any plus sized influencers or entertainers, nor did they get their clothes in those hands. They didnt put money into any billboards! Frankly, I forgot about their plus size range.

    By giving up, it’s like these lines are saying we dont matter

    • Marie Denee

      February 14, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      None of those suggestions were implemented except at the beginning… they did not build a full relationship, did not keep engaging… the days of no competition are gone. You have to work for our dollars now!

  7. Marshonne Walker

    February 8, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    @Sierra and @Nicole Zarfos: y’all are dead on.

    If a brand/ entity is *actually* interested in pursuing a particular market, that line will pull out all the stops to get the money. Think of something as simple as Starbucks happy hour; to in depth marketing by various companies (that shall remain nameless *ahem – VS/LB lingerie ploys*. WHBM may have wanted a piece of the financial pie, but they definitely wern’t willing to make beyond the token effort to say “look, we tried…” Think I heard about it in the beginning of the idea, and never again since.

  8. Mags

    February 8, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    I sadly just found out – was looking to order a few pieces and eagerly went on their website and couldn’t find anything. But how could this be, I thought to myself. I then Googled and saw this. Yes, they had limited pieces in plus size, but what they did have was much more stylish, a better quality and at a good price point compared to what is available elsewhere. I did have the feeling they didn’t “buy” into the whole plus sized demographic, but rather limped in and just dipped the proverbial toe into this ever growing (pun intended) demographic. The selection was worth the yet again and all too common “plus sized demo slight”. Here’s hoping we’ll see a good quality contemporary retailer take the Plus Sized market by storm.

    • Marie Denee

      February 14, 2019 at 4:59 pm

      Yessssssssss!!!
      I only found out from emails and comments girl!

  9. Jen

    February 8, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    This isn’t some small business that doesn’t understand marketing, so to me it feels like it was designed to fail.

  10. Cee

    February 8, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    I’ve always loved WHBM clothes but after three children just thought it wasn’t an option for me anymore until a co-worker told me of the plus line online! I was thrilled and my wardrobe took a very noticeable change in the right direction. I became a platinum member (spending $2500 in less than three months). I’m so very disappointed. I found out when I received a coupon in my email and was eager to redeem it online only to find they discontinued the line. Bad form WHBM.

    • Marie Denee

      February 14, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      Any they say that we do not spend! I have a few more options coming up for you love! Hold tight…

    • Amanda

      February 19, 2019 at 6:19 pm

      Same! I bought an entire suiting wardrobe for 4 seasons, plus tanks, blouses, and jeans just this Fall. Went to spend my reward dollars and *poof*. Not even in final sale! It’s like it was a fever dream, except I have a closet to prove it was real.

  11. lizzy

    February 10, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    I only found out WHBM carried larger sizes a few months ago; by the time I was ready to place an order, the line was gone. I live in a city of under 200,000, and our local Talbots and Loft and Chicos don’t carry larger sizes in store either (Talbots used to, but dropped them to double their petite collection to half the store). But I go into the stores to check out the fabrics and styles and then ask them to order what I want in a couple of sizes; I then return extensively. It’s a pain, but at least there are some models on their sites, and I prefer that to WHBM’s stealth approach.

    • Marie Denee

      February 14, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      STealth. Exactly… That is what it was… I am still shocked by this move.

  12. Renee

    February 10, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    This WAS such a great alternative to find nice, attractive clothing in the more inclusive sizes. I love WHBM styles but the larger regular missy sizes were still a bit snug on me. The larger sizes were such a nice alternative to find classy plus size clothing and now…poof…its gone. Yes…they TOTALLY missed the mark and lost business with me.

    • Marie Denee

      February 14, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      I am working on gathering a few fun options for us. There is a new brand I will be featuring that hopefully will have a few fun options!

  13. K Thompson

    February 12, 2019 at 8:16 am

    I’d finally attained some status with them and they just disappeared. No notice at all! Very disappointed.

    • Marie Denee

      February 14, 2019 at 4:56 pm

      Right? Not even an email, survey, or anything!!!

  14. Rebecca

    February 13, 2019 at 12:40 am

    I have many pieces and they are all high quality, fit very well and are attractive. I returned 1 pair of pants (the rise was too high) but have and adore the sequined jeans above and another pair of bootcuts. But the fact is they never bothered to do any marketing for the line. I heard about it completely by accident and never saw a single promotion. Tonight when I went to take a look, POOF all gone. So disappointed.

  15. Melissa

    February 13, 2019 at 9:15 am

    What a let down! Just when the most discriminated group of people, saw a crack of light, and a little hope, it’s now been snatched away. Shame on this company for not including plus sizes!

    • Marie Denee

      February 14, 2019 at 4:56 pm

      I do know what there are a few others who are working on a few things… so hopefully we have a few more options from folks who are serious.

  16. Vicki

    February 14, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    This is so disappointing and frustrating. The few pieces I bought were so well made and fit so well. I do feel their marketing effort was dismal and wondered why nothing was ever placed in the stores. It’s just so frustrating as a professional woman to want to look nice and only have weird, overly-trendy looks or frumpy cheap looks available. WHBM was really starting to fill that hole. Short sighted on their part.

    • Marie Denee

      February 14, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      Extremely. I hope lessons are learned and not brushed away…

  17. robincharmagne

    February 14, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    They had no interest in the plus size market and the feeling is mutual- I have no interest in them. Will not shop even if they attempt a comeback!

  18. Lisa Langrell

    February 19, 2019 at 5:34 am

    I didn’t even know WHBM carried plus sizes to begin with! I have found on some stores carrying plus sizes that they do miss their mark: only online avail, a LOT of above knee dresses and skirts (not everyone likes above knee..like me!), moo moo tops and dresses, no marketing at all! Did they not consult with plus size people at all?-this is how I feel about most stores unless it is plus size specific. The Loft carries plus size but just about all legging/skinny pants and above knee. Tops are ok..most are boxy. I dont like either of those options. I think if you are going to do plus size, then you should represent more than 1 or 2 options..some young and flashy, some professional/conservative..how about whatever you carry in regular you carry in plus? Infuriates me that I find cute clothes in a store and skinny folk have much cuter clothes-but their plus size is blah. Just like thin people..we want choices. It just seems taking on plus sizes in some of the stores is a bit half-assed.

    • Marie Denee

      February 21, 2019 at 7:28 am

      CHOICES and options!!!!!!!
      Yes ot the half assed “we tried it” attempt. Tuh… we deserved better…

  19. Laurie R.

    February 22, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    I am so sad and disappointed to hear WHBM has stopped with their plus size clothing. I have dreamt about being able to wear their clothing for years. I loved all of the pieces that I purchased, except their pants. Their pants and jean lengths in the plus sizes were meant for people well over six feet tall. I am 5’ 7” and usually have a problem with pants being just a tad too short. Their tops and dresses were awesome! They were very well made and I feel so good wearing their clothing. Not being able to go store to try things on was difficult too. I really wish they would have continued to produce plus size!

  20. Miranda

    February 26, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    I am very happy to see that SOMEONE wrote an article about this!!! Hello?!?! WTF WHBM?!? I am a 35+ year old lawyer, size 22, who is constantly searching everywhere from local boutiques to the corners of the Internet for smart, crisp, professional pieces for my wardrobe. Imagine my joy when WHBM launched its plus size line. I totally agree with the “where they went wrong” analysis, especially numbers 1, 2, and 4.

    I noticed toward the end of 2018, NO new styles had been added to the plus sizes since late summer/early fall. Then, just like that, the plus sizes were GONE!! Pushed to the sale link then taken off completely. I bought so much stuff from WHBM that I maintained platinum level rewards benefits. I have $40 in points and benefits to spend…ON WHAT?! Jewelry? Scarves? Because there are NO clothes for me to buy. I called WHBM during the last week of January and asked if the plus sizes would be returning and the rep said that she had no information about whether it would be returning.

    RIP WHBM plus sizes.

  21. Miranda

    February 26, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    …and thank you for writing an article about this. When I first noticed that WHBM wasn’t replenishing their plus size clothing, I searched for articles about it and found NOTHING. I could be wrong, but you are one of few, if not the only, site that has written about what happened to WHBM’s plus size line.

    • Marie Smith

      March 25, 2019 at 10:28 pm

      Fellow lawyer here. I bought a sassy velvet jacket that always sets me apart from the sea of black whenever I wear it. Guess I’ll have to go elsewhere from now on. It’s so hard to find good suiting options without looking like I borrowed my mom’s clothes.

  22. Tracey

    March 1, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    I am so sad that WHBM chose to discontinue this line! I too bought several amazing things in the Fall and loved them. I have even sent several women to their sight because of compliments I received….smh…I will not send anyone else to their site…no matter their size. They could have at least sent an email out to customers who had purchased items in the discontinued sizes…it shows a real lack in customer care. Oh well WHBM…even in business…what comes around goes around….

    • Marie Denee

      March 7, 2019 at 7:07 am

      Very true. We are just as shocked as you!

  23. Patricia

    April 8, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    Your article was spot on! I agree with all the points you made. They missed a huge opportunity because there is a void in the market. Yes, there are other options as you mentioned but the quality is seriously missing. That is where WHBM could have done better.

    I also have to say that although I have shopped there frequently over the years, I have had many customer service issues. Being a member I find it very frustrating when I have to always ask if I have a coupon that can be applied. The sales people would rather over charge you. The customer service department is horrible. No service whatsoever. So the lack of communication about the decision to not offer this line doesn’t surprise me at all.

  24. Dee

    April 9, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    I actually found some of their plus size items in store recently- at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx! They probably sold them all their inventory. Go shopping ladies!

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