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May 22, 2021

Retailers say no to plus-size women

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

In a move that makes you wonder if it’s taking business advice from United Airlines, Ann Taylor has announced it will no longer carry women’s size 16 in its stores any longer.

The U.S. retail chain said it will pull the size because of lack of demand and has now joined the ranks of other big-time outfitters to drop its clothing lines for bigger women.

And, if you look closer, this trend appears to have all the looks of a larger development. A more alarming development.

Because - by most accounts – the decision by Ann Taylor doesn’t make any sense.

Retail insiders say that the women’s size 16 is more expensive to produce, apparently because it requires a special pattern to be cut and fitted. While that would be a viable excuse if Ann Taylor were to drop the size altogether, they still plan to offer it online and will still need to model and trim the designs.

Most befuddling here, though, is that while retailers like Gap and Banana Republic have recently lost their size 16s, about 70% of women (in the U.S., at least) still wear a size 12 and up.

Isn’t that a pretty big chunk of your market share to be wiping out by restricting it to online buys?

I don’t want to be the guy making too much out of nothing here, but you have to admit the move against plus-sizes is at least fishy.

I won’t pretend to know anything about how lady’s clothes fit, but from what I read researching this post, as the size of a garment increases, so does the way it fits women. Therefore, the clothes need to be actually in the store to encourage girls to try them on.

And judging by the 70% stat above, there’s quite a few of them who are going to need to shop.

Couldn’t it be, though, that these retailers are making a conscious effort to distance themselves from overweight women crowding their stores? Is it that ridiculous to insinuate maybe Ann Taylor and co. might be subtly blocking out plus-size women from being associated with their brand?

Maybe yes and maybe no. Maybe the numbers really don’t add up and it doesn’t make sense to keep the size 16 in stores. But, maybe this comment I dug up sums the issue up best:

“I’ve heard some interesting economic convolutions,” writes Fatchic.net. “But it still seems fairly simple to supply the demand for clothing that fits people.”



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...