In the last several years we have seen a significant progress made in the fashion world on issues of diversity, gender and size. At least in terms of models.
But there is still a huge problem with sizing and fashionable clothing.
I’m cranky this week, for reasons I shall explain. This week I popped into my favourite Australian designer boutique (I wont say which one) to return two pairs of silk pants. I buy these pants regularly, at least two or three pairs a year as they are a classic and they fit beautifully – a bit loose and slouchy.
I am a size 12, so when I go in, I just choose a new colour, and another pair of black and don’t bother to try them on. It’s been fine for years now.
But this time, when I tried them on at home, the pants were too tight around my calves. I took them back to the shop and asked why. I certainly hadn’t put on any weight in my calves that I could see.
“No,” said the store manager cheerfully. “The cut has changed. They are narrower now.”
“Oh, well, that’s annoying,” I said. “Perhaps I should just swap them for size 14 then.”
“No, they don’t come in a 14,” she replied, and wandered off to serve someone who is a size 8. A lovely young store assistant came over, looking more compassionate about my apparently humungous calf issue.
“Would you like to swap them for something else? We have some beautiful new silk blouses and dresses that have just come in.”
She showed me around the store, and I bought some blouses and another pair of pants.
“Do these come in a 14?” I asked out of curiosity.
“No, we are not doing size 14 anymore…” she said, embarrassed “…in anything.”
I was infuriated. I have pretty much been a size 12 all my life, but being a size 14 is never far off, if you have bosoms, thighs, or are taller than 175 centimetres (5’ 9”). Size 14 is not a plus size. It is the size of the average Australian woman.
Why would you send this message to your customers, women who have been faithfully shopping with you for so long that they are now mother-and-daughter shopping? You don’t want to see them in your clothes? You don’t want their money?
You might need to get a little bit of a grip and realise that you are not Hedi Slimane for Celine making clothes for 17-year-old Parisian waifs, but a suburban Australian brand that makes really nice clothes that we want to wear to lunch in Avalon.
My lovely sales assistant nodded in agreement as I said as such (politely).
“You might want to tell my boss”, she said. “The customers have been saying this to me all the time. I’m naturally petite, and I feel so ashamed to tell someone bigger than me that she can’t shop here”.
I will call the boss. He’ll no doubt notice when his revenue halves.