View Full Version : Fall 2005: Plus-specialty stores trounced?

M. Lopez
30th September 2005, 18:34
I was just reflecting on something rather surprising. With the exception of Torrid (which is always a unique case), doesn't it seem as if a lot of generalist retailers have, in their plus-oriented campaigns, outdone the plus-specialty stores? I don't think this has ever happened before.

Think about it:
-at Kohl's, Barbara Brickner and Ashley Graham have appeared (and Nadia was there in the summer campaign)
-ShopKo has regularly featured true plus-size models
-Dillard's has a curvy blonde junior-plus model, along with Melissa Masi, and that size 16/18 redhead that was posted here a few weeks ago
-Nordstrom has surpassed everyone by featuring dozens and dozens of images of size 14+ models, including Barbara and Jordan. I don't think anyone has ever featured as many images of Barbara in one season as they have
-and Reitmans even put Barbara on their cover page, and shot her looking more classically beautiful than I've ever seen before

Meantime, a lot of the plus-specialty stores have been resorting to faux-plus models.

I don't know quite how to feel about this. Should I see the glass as half-full because some general retailers are finally "getting it right"? Or half-empty, because the plus-specialty stores aren't doing all they could be, in creating truly size-positive imagery, and in helping the cause? Both, I suppose.

Well, I'm going back to Nordstrom......


1st October 2005, 18:05
<br>What an interesting observation. Why this should be the case is a great puzzle, and in some ways, quite disheartening. But perhaps some of the generalist retailers are more in tune with what the public actually wishes to see, whereas some plus-specialist retailers are governed by individuals who think "they know better," and are committed to imposing their own aesthetic. It would be irresponsible to specular further, because undoubtedly, every case is different. All that one can do is celebrate what is good out there, rue the bad, and hope for progress in the future.

One suspects that the plus-specialist retailers will <i>need</i> to make their campaigns more distinctive in the future, however, or else they will see their customers emigrate to the generalist chains.

Here is an unidentified model who appeared in a ShopKo promotion recently. Attractive, youthful, and visibly full-figured--everything a plus-size retailer could want, and precisely the image that the public has been asking to see.<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/forum/shopko01.jpg"></center><p>And as this is likely a weekend of a change at the Reitmans site, here is a screen capture of the current home page, before it is switched, with Mrs. Brickner on the cover. It is so encouraging to see this company present Barbara, their Encore 14+ model, as the primary image for <i>all</i> of their customers to see. And why shouldn't they? The Classical aesthetic was the dominant ideal of femininity throughout Western history, and it is truly encouraging to see a retailer acknowledge that it still communicates a positive image of aspiration to all humanity.<p><center><img src="http://www.judgmentofparis.com/bb/rcover01.jpg"></center>

1st October 2005, 20:15
One thing that plus-specialist stores could do to really endear themselves to their customers is actually stand up for them. There is so much rampant anti-plus sentiment in media culture today, its disgusting. And of course, the diet companies stoke these fires at every opportunity. Who DOESNT realize that the weight-loss industry has been behind all of the plus-hating TV shows of the past few seasons?

I wish I could think one single company, or one single magazine - just one - that is actually doing something to fight this prejudice, instead of adding to it - intentionally or unintentionally.

More positive imagery would be a great first step. You know - actually show models whose figures are at least a LITTLE like the customers who shop there, and not like six-foot-tall womens basketball playes, which is most of whats out there right now, except for the stores M. Lopez mentioned.

But there is so much more they could be doing.

2nd October 2005, 22:33
Surprisingly, it might be possible to add JCPenney to that list. They've almost always used faux-plus models in the past, but their current flyer features Ivana, and Ivana is now official listed as a size 16 at Ford. (Bravo!) Her measurements are given as a very curvy 38DD - 36 - 47.

Not crazy about the patterns on the blouses, but still, using a true plus-size model deserves praise.


Why JCPenney wouldn't feature all of its fashions on fuller-figured models is beyond me.