A welcome article from the Los Angeles Times (which won’t be news to any of us, but you might want to email it to those Who Don’t Know as a method of venting):
. . . the average U.S. woman, who’s 162.9 pounds and wears a size 14, is treated like an anomaly by apparel brands and retailers — who seem to assume that no one over size 10 follows fashion’s capricious trends.
Fashion-forward boutiques such as Maxfield and Fred Segal rarely stock anything over a size 10, and in designer shops, sizes beyond 6 or 8 are often hidden like contraband in the “back.” Department stores typically offer tiny sections with only 20 or so brands that fit sizes 14 and up — compared with the 900-plus brands they carry in their regular women’s wear departments.
That leaves style-loving full-figured women with a clutch of plus-size chains including Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Avenue and Torrid. Or big-box stores such as Target, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart, the No. 1 seller of plus-size apparel in the country — though most of its selection consists of basic, often matronly items. Beyond this, plus-size clothing is largely relegated to the Internet, where customers who already have a complicated relationship with clothes are unable to see, touch or try on merchandise.
It’s a which-came-first scenario, Cohen said. Because plus-size women have been ignored for years, they’ve stopped actively looking for shopping opportunities. But when retailers bring savvy style to the plus-size game (as Gap Inc. did with its short-lived concept, Forth & Towne, which carried fashion-forward clothing for career women in sizes 2 to 20), they often shutter their efforts before they have a chance to bloom.
“Retailers don’t have the patience to allow it to evolve,” he added. “This is a market that’s been underserved for 50 years. Customers are saying, ‘For 50 years, you’ve ignored me and now you expect me to react to it instantaneously?’ No.”