Woman Too Big To Shop At Her Own Clothing Chain

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Belle Robinson, owner of UK clothing retailer Jigsaw, tells the Times of London: "We have to get a grip on having created this world where skinny girls are normal." A size 16, Robinson can't wear sample sizes from her store.


"Finding clothes that flatter is still a problem," Robinson, who's 5'10", claims. (Remember, she owns a clothing store.) She also says: "I reckon my arms are in proportion with the rest of my body - I know everyone is paranoid about their arms - but I think mine are okay. So why is it that, frequently, I can't get my arm into the sleeve of a jacket, or the armholes are too tight?"

The piece by Anita Chaudhuri notes:

[Robinson's] not letting her own label off the hook, either. "I think we did lose our size-16 customers for a bit, but we've had a design rethink and, thankfully, we've got them back again."

Interestingly, in a comment on the article, a reader named Jane Hawke wrote:

This makes me furious. I have been everything between a size 10 and an 18 and unless I'm closer to 10 I am unable to shop at Jigsaw which focuses almost exclusively on fashion for thin people. To find out that the owner is unable to wear the clothes her own company produces is ridiculous. This is what the majority of British women have to put up with and Belle Robinson herself is one of the reasons we do.

Of course, British fashion chains aren't the only ones that often exclude larger sizes. It seems obvious that the clothing manufacturers lose money by not being able to accommodate certain customers. But hopefully Belle Robinson will push for more styles and sizes at her own store — she can't even wear the lovely dress above, since 14 is the largest size available.

What It Feels Like To Be Size Normal In A Super-Skinny World [Times Of London]



I was working for Old Navy (worst company environment ever, but that is for another day) when they rolled out the plus size shop. Since it didn't last that long I was still with them and even dismantled the shop myself and reworked it into part of the boys shop. From what I can remember the clothes were either very basic or hideous. If you compared it to what we displayed in main street or in featured it was equally basic or ugly. I thought it was great Old Navy kept plus options on the website at least, but there wasn't much interest in store. Even after it was gone we rarely had anyone interested in why the company decided to pull it.

I find it kind of funny. Consumers feel they have the right to demand and dictate what a shop must carry even if it means the company is taking a loss. From season to season you may likely have a lot of stock you need to markdown in order to sell. Why? Maybe because the demand really wasn't high enough or because your target market really isn't beyond a certain size. At the same time I struggle with this because consumers should have more choices and plus sized clothing really shouldn't be niche market. I guess I meet in the middle by reasoning if a company does not see a profitable way to expand their clothing line, then they shouldn't. The goal of a business is to generate profit.

I've been in retail for years now, and I'm managing some non-clothing retail stores currently. Once in a while a potential customer will come in and inquire about something that we do not provide service for or a product we do not offer. Most of the time they respond with a gruff, "Well, why not?" In my mind I've gone over every possible service we could offer all of our potential customers. I've also considered how much it would cost the store in supplies, labor, training, and storage because we really wouldn't have much of a demand for it. If I invest $500 in product x and I spend at least 3 hours training all my employees about it, which may cost $200-$300, I expect to sell all of product x every single month. If I only sell product x four times a year for 1.65% of what I bought it for then I'm wasting money. Right now we need to spend that $700-$800 elsewhere. My manager has often said, "Why should be provide a service to someone that isn't even part of our customer base that will in the end cost us money? We could provide that service, but to justify it we would have to raise the prices on everything. That would push away our already established customer base."

It doesn't seem fair, but a business doesn't have to serve every single person. Other businesses will come along, though, and find a profitable way to serve those people. Kiyonna, for example, makes great plus sized clothing that is damn sexy. The quality is on par if not better than what you spend to buy a dress from them. They are doing well enough to open a small flagship in Anaheim.

To be honest, I'm plus sized. I always have trouble finding clothing that fits correctly. It's not about what size I am or what size you are because every woman has trouble finding something that fits correctly. It maybe a button up blouse, blue jeans, knee high boots, a bra, or leather chaps with dragons embroidered on them.

Ugh, sorry for what turned into a long rant. I'm just frustrated with the idea that the customer is always right and should always have their way. Oh god, I feel better.