I think it is fair to say that I am a little older than the target market of some of the fashion shops on the high street. I am 50 but have no desire to be consigned to the scrap heap or to wear frumpy clothes. I am not saying that I want to walk down the high street in a cropped top and mini skirt but I am not ready for the twin set yet and still enjoy exploring new looks. Whilst I may look a little older than the average visitor to some of the stores nobody seems to give me a second glance but the real issue I encounter is sizing.
I often wondered why the garments in some of the stores seem to be available only in small sizes. I am not exactly huge and usually require a UK size 12 or 14 and yet some brands don’t offer these sizes. It is always depressing when I have to buy an XL in Desigual and there are other shops where everything is too small. I honestly thought that the brands concerned just believed that only very slim, young people would be interested in their clothes but I now realise that they are using sizing as a means of control over their client base.
I must have had my head in a bag for the last few years because I simply didn’t realise that some labels are anxious to define their own customers and deliberately exclude those who don’t fit the profile. They want only the coolest people to wear their garments and keep the rest of us away by offering nothing that would fit us. They believe this tactic strengthens their brand but I think they are wrong. The worst offenders have been Abercrombie and Fitch who clearly believed that people like me were deeply uncool and not to be seen in their clothes.
Only Slim Will Do
This is brand which until now has only offered clothing in sizes up to a UK 10 for women and 24 waist for men which strikes me as rather short sighted. I know many brands see great strength in establishing a niche market for themselves but in fashion retailing the exclusion of most of your potential clients is probably not such a great idea and so it has proved to be.
Abercrombie and Fitch had seen profits slump and the value of its stock plummet and now, a little after the fact, they are to bring larger sizes into their stores. The notion that only very slim people can be cool is ridiculous as is a brand positioning policy which openly declares that you only want slim people to wear your clothes. It remains to be seen whether a change of policy will lead to an upturn in the company’s fortunes but it certainly won’t do it any harm. They might want to take a look at their pricing too. Their styles are only T shirts and hoodies for Christ sake, not haute couture, but many youngsters simply can’t afford to buy them.
With the amount of choice now on offer it will pay to be inclusive. I look forward to the day when I can buy clothes that will fit me in any store and that includes Jeans. It is extremely provoking that designer jeans are only ever available in ludicrously long lengths. Most women are not 6ft tall so this must have been an exclusionary tactic too. I have grown sick and tired of jeans which extend miles beyond the ends of my feet and I really can’t be bothered to take them up. There is plenty of choice out there whether you are looking for jeans, hoodies or anything else and so it is time for certain labels to change their policy or disappear.
Sally Stacey is a keen writer and business owner who divides her time between writing and running her bridal shop where dresses are available in all sizes!