According to Crain’s New York, retailer Ann Taylor is cutting their plus size. This means that size 16 will no longer be available in stores, but only online. In another article, Crain’s goes into a great deal more detail on the cutbacks on plus sizes by Ann Taylor/the Loft and Gap Inc. which includes Banana Republic and Old Navy. This article also cites that according to retailers 70% of women are size 12 and up. This raises the question: in what way is making product less available to the majority of potential customers a cost saving measure?
While I’m well aware that the majority of wealth is distributed across 3% of the population in the US, is that really the bulk of the market of Gap Inc. and Ann Taylor? I have a hard time believing that these corporations could support themselves on a hit-or-miss sampling of 9 million people, especially with the corporate projections they’re expected to put out. It seems like some of these business decisions are stemming from social perceptions and, once again, poor promotion – I never knew that Old Navy went up to a size 26 until it was moved to the website only, and this is the first time I’ve heard of Ann Taylor going up to size 16.
I’ve heard some interesting economic convolutions, but it still seems fairly simple to supply the demand for clothing that fits people. I have to wonder if what’s happening is a repeat of an incident I had with a manager at Hill’s years ago: his wife wore a size four shoe, so all he ordered up to was size four and five. Then he met me, and after a nice conversation I reminded him that most women were really not as tiny as his wife and while the availability of shoes was nice for her, he was talking to me because he couldn’t figure out why all his shoes weren’t selling.
When I came back to the store a few months later, I had no trouble finding shoes in my size – and I saw a lot more women in the store, buying shoes.