As a plus size customer who is a size 26/28, I am used to encountering retailers and designers who don’t offer clothing past a size 24. I have learned to adapt to that because that is what a true fashionista does when her options are limited. She works with what she has. Fashion knows no size. That’s what I believe.
So when I read about Lululemon and how they are anti-plus size in their stores, I wasn’t surprised. What did surprise me is how they shun their customers by hiding the larger sizes away from the customer’s sight and not even entertaining the thought of offering sizes larger than a 12 in-store. It reminded me of a time when I was in a well-known plus size retailer’s store and began a conversation with a salesgirl on why they only offered 1-2 pieces of the sizes 26, 28 and 30 but yet the entire rack was full of 14s and 16s. This young lady told me that the larger sizes are rarely restocked because she was told by management that those sizes never sell well so what’s the point of restocking them or even putting them in the forefront on the sales floor.
I thought that was ridiculous but when I looked around the store, I, the 26/28 customer, was in the minority. So all I could do was walk out, disgusted. So not only am I forced to shop at a size specialty store but even there, it’s a challenge to be recognized by the retailer as a customer of importance. After some thought, I came to the conclusion that I was the minority in that store because (1) my sizes weren’t readily available or easily seen and (2) because I felt “shunned”, it made me not want to shop there anymore. Most ladies I know that are my size prefer to shop online. Sure, it can be a hassle as we cannot try the clothing on. But the plus size woman has learned to adapt and conform to what is out there to make it work for her after a little trial and error. However, if we were treated better and felt more accepted in a brick and mortar store, I think more of us would come out in droves and spend our money.
So if our own plus size retailers treat us this way, how can we be shocked when a store like Lululemon does the same thing? As the Huffington Post reports, the definition of what’s plus-size varies. While we here at Plus Model Magazine set that break point at a size 12, there are other publications, as noted in the article, that set their break point at a size 14. However, Lululemon considers sizes 10 and 12 too large for what they would like their customer base to be. Companies like Lululemon, whose business it is to sell high-end yoga and pilates wear, are sending out the message that in order to be active and healthy, you have to be under a size 10.
I understand that the size issue is subjective. When I see a t-shirt that says “One Size Fits All”, I know that t-shirt will not fit everyone. The whole “One Size Fits All” thing can be misleading. It will fit whatever size that retailer deems an appropriate size for ALL. But this issue runs deeper than a number on a tag. It’s all about how a company views people of a certain size. Yes, they claim it’s business but it also seems personal to me. How can it not be personal when you are shunning people to the point of exiling them from your store because you don’t feel they are “cool” enough or fit your view of what a healthy, fit person should look like?
I am ecstatic that Elizabeth Licorish, a former Lululemon employee, spoke up about their practices and views because the only way things will change is if someone speaks up and takes a stand. And while we will have to contend with retailers like Lululemon and Abercrombie & Fitch who don’t want plus size customers in their stores, I think the plus size retail world is looking promising with companies like Forever 21, H & M, and even Gap, offering extended sizes. In the end, the power is in the wallet. Our wallets. We can choose where we want to shop. And if Lululemon thinks they are too good for the plus size customer, we don’t have to shop there and they won’t get our money.
Instead, we should give our money to those retailers who offer our sizes, especially in activewear:
We, at Plus Model Magazine, believe that beauty comes in all sizes. Because while one size does not fit all, all sizes should be recognized.
PMM Blog Editor