This is a continuation of last year’s rant about clothing size availability in retail stores. You can read it here, it’s not super long.
The Labour District has been open for almost three months now, and the women’s wear has been selling quite well. The women of Oshawa love my cotton summer dresses, and I’ve loved seeing my dresses worn by many happy women. Seriously you guys, there’s this thing that keeps happening where a woman tries on my dress, comes out of the change room, and the dress will look like it was made for her. The fit, the cut, the colours; these dresses are greater than what I ever thought I could produce, and they look amazing on a variety of shapes and sizes of women.
As long as they fit into a S (4-6), M (8-10) or L (12-14), or so it seems.
That’s right folks, I have not sold a single XL garment since we’ve opened. The XL dresses (14-16) just sit on the racks with sad face, wondering why nobody ever asks them to dance. I have so many of them kicking around right now, it’s ridiculous.
Why aren’t these XL dresses selling? My original intent was to create a starter line that regularly featured dresses in S-XL, with plans to expand up to XXXL as interest grew. But considering that the only sizes selling are S/M/L, I have to put that expansion on hold while I figure a few things out.
Having been in the store every day for the past three months, I have noticed a few reasons as to why the XLs aren’t selling, some of which were anticipated in my XS-XL post last year.
1) Contrary to what I’d been led to believe while studying plus sized designing, plus sized women do not necessarily want the same gear that the smaller sizes want.
I’ve been pretty crazy about boatnecks and box-pleats these days, two styles that don’t seem to flatter larger figures. So I’ve started working on different silhouettes, namely a v-neck bodice with a FBA, and a 1/2 circle skirt, with the hopes that I’ll lure in a wider variety of shoppers (realize that trying new styles means making new dresses over and over, which means that I currently have a considerable supply of B-cupped/droopy v-necked/short-waisted/broad-backed XL dresses sitting in a heap in the back of the store. So if you know anyone…).
2) Something that I had anticipated was that larger sized women have more variety in their shapes. Straight up truth, girls. And it makes a significant difference to whether or not a dress will fit. I’ve had exactly three XL women try on dresses since we opened. One woman couldn’t get the dress over her butt (it was a straight skirt, not a box-pleat), one was slightly too small for the fitted structure of the dress (but the Large size she tried on was way too tight), and one woman was so tall that the waistline went nearly up to her boobs, and the bust darts ran several inches beyond where they should’ve stopped (that was when I decided to add a FBA to the XL bodice).
But what am I supposed to do with all of these individual issues? Make numerous different types of XL bodices, with the hopes that they’ll each fit someone? Hells no, I’m not made of money. And seriously, with only three XL women even trying on dresses in the past three months, I’m not going to bust my ass trying to please them. Give me a reason to make larger sizes, and I’ll totally do it, but three women in three months isn’t a good enough reason. Which leads me to
3) Larger sized women just don’t shop for dresses with the same vigour and voracity as smaller sized women. Sorry ladies, I really wasn’t expecting this, and I’m not happy reporting it, but this is what I’ve seen. Three women trying on XL dresses in three months, does not the rent payeth.
I suspect that the main reason for this lies in our self-confidence. We’re bombarded with thinspiration and fat-shaming, and it’s nigh on impossible for a woman to live in our society without being affected by body issues. And then on the occasion where a woman decides to go shopping for a cute dress, she’s then faced with various versions of the shitty shape options that I’ve just gone into.
You guys, I really want the larger sizes to sell. I want average sized women to feel happy with their bodies and to enjoy shopping for clothes. But I feel like I’m continuously banging my head against the wall here, spending time and money on perfectly good XL sized dresses that just won’t sell (not talking about the heap of weird dresses in the back of the store).