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April Flores, American Apparel & The Plus-Size 'Demographic'

Illustration for article titled April Flores, American Apparel  The Plus-Size Demographic

Last year, April Flores — adult film star, erotic performer and plus-size beauty — visited an American Apparel showroom in an attempt to find pieces for her plus-sized clothing line. She was told that AA did not have plus-sized items because "that's not our demographic." Tuesday, the company's Creative Director, Iris Alonzo, sent a letter to Nancy Upton, responding to her irreverent take on the American Apparel plus-size model search, and referenced the earlier incident with April Flores.

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In addition to informing Nancy Upton that, despite earning the most votes, she would not be named the winner of the contest, Alonzo wrote:

In regards to April Flores' "that's not our demographic" experience, I don't recall the name of the confused employee credited with saying that, but he or she was sadly uninformed, and our company certainly does not endorse their statement. For as long as I can remember, we have offered sizes up to 3XL in our basic styles, and as far as adding larger sizes to the rest of our line is concerned, if there is the demand and manufacturing power to support it, we're always game.

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But doesn't the "demand" automatically exist, if the average American woman wears a size 14? (The largest you can get in most American Apparel women's styles is 8/10.)

Illustration for article titled April Flores, American Apparel  The Plus-Size Demographic

April Flores has responded to Alonzo's letter on her blog, noting that "it is a year and 4 months too late to acknowledge what happened to me." She adds:

I am surprised that they were even aware of my situation, because I was never responded to or contacted by anyone from American Apparel last year. I also highly doubt that they "don't recall the name of the confused employee credited with saying that" because I was at their Downtown LA headquarters meeting with their showroom rep specifically to work on my plus sized clothing line. This woman (whose name I DO remember – Maggie P.) was well aware that I was meeting with her to find pieces for my plus sized clothing line. Her disinterested attitude during the entire meeting makes it hard to believe that she "was sadly uninformed." And during our meeting, the only piece of clothing I was shown that went up to a size 3XL was a Men's t-shirt. That was an article of clothing that was hardly inspiring or appropriate for the sexy, flattering clothing I to hope to create for plus sized women.

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Flores also offered her thoughts about AA's plus-size model search, saying, "I didn't like the title 'The Next BIG Thing' with the word 'big' in all caps and the word 'thing' used to describe a woman." She also believes that AA missed an opportunity:

I think it is actually funny and very telling that Nancy won the contest. AA should see that the plus sized community is a serious community and could have used this, or perhaps even the backlash that my experience caused last year, as reasons to really try to understand the potential of treating plus sized women with respect, and how that could go a long way in helping their struggling company.

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My Thoughts on Nancy Upton and American Apparel [Fatty D]

Earlier: American Apparel Refuses To Recognize Rightful Plus-Size Contest Winner
Meet The Adult Film Star Not In American Apparel's "Demographic"
American Apparel Is Not Interested In Your Plus-Size Dollars

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Images by Carlos Batts

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DISCUSSION

a_paroxysm
feministfury

Well, isn't AA trying to appeal to a youthful market? The statistic about the average size being 14 might be skewed by older women, since metabolism tends to slow down with age. I agree they've acted like assholes, but maybe there is some truth in the fact that there's not demand for larger sizes... In my experience, when I shop for clothes (I'm 19 years old), there are nearly always clothes in sizes 10-16 and up, but if the article of clothing is on sale or has been on the rack for a while, it can be difficult to find it in sizes 2-8. However, there are generally size 0 and 00, which leads me to believe that perhaps there is fewer demand for the two extremes. Maybe it would be too complicated to make more clothes in the middle sizes and fewer for the smaller/larger sizes.

It could also be that plus-size women just know to ignore those stores, but perhaps the surplus of the larger-size clothing leads the stores to think there would be no demand for even larger sizes. It would be interesting to see if, once plus-size women knew that a store had begun offering plus-size clothing, supply would meet demand.

I am talking about generally youth-targeted stores like Urban Outfitters, Gap, Nordstrom, etc.