Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Picking the Brain of my Chubblettes

I've been reading several blogs with opinions about the name change of Forever 21's plus size range (switching from Faith 21 to Forever 21+). The complaints range from being embarrassed of the plus sign to trying to make it sound like the same products without carrying the full range. Now, I've been involved with some form of the plus size clothing business for around 10 years now, so perhaps that's why when I see changes like this, I don't see it as any more than some type of business correction. There is some (not always logical) reason that they have seen this fit and as long as they continue to make my size, I tend to not care. Now, if I felt somehow demeaned by the change or if the tone turns towards encouraging self hatred, then I may take notice...I'm not sure that's really the case here. My guess is that they wanted to more clearly convey that they offer plus sizes, to make more money and seem like less of a side brand.

The main reason I'm curious about these reactions is because, as I announced previously, I'm working on my own plus size store. For me, I love the Hefty Hideaway approach. The owner has a large plate of donuts and proclaims "Eat up, ladies!" This fun, carefree spirit to clothing shopping is something that I think is missing in a lot of plus size stores. We are taught to be so uncomfortable and unhappy with our chubby bodies that the clothing experience becomes more like a punishment than a basic task (or *GASP* a hobby). I always wanted to be thrust in the middle of a technicolor montage from Clueless while in the dressing room...primping with Cher and Dionne, all of us smiling and pouting with the same fervor.

Within my store, I want to employ tongue-in-cheek jokes, colorful language, and a general celebration of fat fashion...but in the end: I don't want to alienate the girls that might enjoy the clothing most. As always, being true to yourself and your vision is most important, but I am also running a business. So I raise this question to you, my chubblettes:

When is comes to plus size businesses and fat: is it better to bring it up with a grin or politely hide it beneath the layers?


  1. I don't mind mentioning plus size or, hell, even fat. I am fat. Whatever. What I don't like is that in this case they're just tacking on a + to Forever 21, probably so as not to integrate the fat into their thin. If they want it to be the same name, then let it be the SAME name. It does't need any mathematics added...

  2. i think this largely depends on where you are with your fat. donuts and fun sounds awesome to me.

  3. I would LOVE it if you brought it up in a fun way. There is such a lack of overtly fat positive fashion outlets. Evans is trying to have it both ways and ends up disappointing both camps - those entrenched in fat acceptance and those that dislike their bodies.

    I think it would work if you picked a personality for your brand and stuck with it.

    Frances x

  4. I think your fun approach is the right way! Weight and size shouldn't be taken so seriously, as if the world will come to an end if you're not a certain size! I agree with Frances, there is a lack of positive fashion outlets, and it's time for plus-size people to be accepted just the way we are. :)

    Can I e-mail you, I would love to ask you a few questions about the plus-size industry! :D


  5. I think what the problem is the separation of both brands. My dislike of the plus sign isn't necessarily the image of the plus sign. It's the idea that this group is secluded and in a way an after thought. Honestly what I think they should do is offer the regular size stuff in plus sizes. Since were talking about forever21.. it kinda bothers me that they show clothes in the flash portion of the faith 21 main page.. but they don't have them! The hell:/

    What I want to see is more high fashiony plus size offerings. It feels like there's a dulling effect; the idea of more top shop-esque offerings seems like a strange concept.

  6. Cassykins - I guess I'm not really sure how it's any better or worse than Faith 21. The sad fact is that most plus size girls just assume that traditionally straight size stores HAVE their size unless there is something that calls attention to that fact. It's much like the petite section...it is supposed to be helpful rather than a dig at being short. What do you think?

    Kiddotrue - Donut party time!! Hahaha =)

    Corpulent - I really want some joy and youth up in this business! Even the "progressive" fashion lines are so so so serious. Which is great, if that's what you are interested in. I'd just like something with humor...I figured you'd understand!!

    LaCara - I'm glad to hear it! The feedback is certainly help me flesh out ideas. And you most certainly can email me! Use the email on the upper right under the advertising section.

    Whitetrashbrigade - As I mentioned above, I think it's really just a matter of letting people know they exist, rather than suggesting they are an after thought. Hopefully, one day, all sizes will be available and the signs will melt away! And yes! That is a pet peeve of mine too...where are those pieces!? My main issue with being able to offer "high fashion" plus size options is that 1. I do not sew and 2. they just aren't available with my current budget. Hopefully one day I will have the spending power and a contacts to create my own line, but that is really difficult in the current situation. Also: what do you mean by high fashion? That has TONS of different concepts...what designers are you referring to?

    Thanks again for the input, ladies!!

  7. I'm all for the fun approach!

    Thing is, I know I'm fat, I embrace who I am, so in saying that, I embrace being fat! I don't hide behind things, i'm not big boned, I'm fat! I appreciate when stores don't hind behind things, I hate the whole "wear this to cover your stomach & make you look slimmer".

  8. Natalie - I'm with ya! I think that if I stay true to being proud and confident about my body then my work with styling and buying will convey that. I just hope that girls can sense that when they check out my store and not assume that I'm being insensitive to those who aren't there yet. And oh yeah - I'm big boned AND fat! <3

  9. RE - I guess I'm not really sure how it's any better or worse than Faith 21

    I liked Faith 21 better, it signified a plus section and made it seem like something special. Forever 21+ to me seems like, "Well technically it's Forever 21, but it's the plus. Don't get it mixed up with the skinny section!" I don't mind some tongue in cheek fat humor or pointing out plus sizes. I just want it to be done a little more proudly. Like Wet Seal just as a plus section. That's cool. I know it's plus, but they don't make it seem like ewww, don't let the plus touch the non-plus!

  10. I liked Faith 21 better it felt like a special line just for me and I felt accepted because it was inconspicuous, like being fat wasn't some big deal that needed to plastered on the branding. I've been in stores before and a thin girl might say "gee that's a cute dress... oh god I'm in the plus section HAHA eww" and they run outta there like it's contagious.

  11. I agree with a lot of the commenters on here. The last time I was in a Forever 21 store that had the faith 21 section, quite a few straight sized girls asked an employee for an item in their size to be told that it was the plus size section. (And like oneforellis said they were afraid to catch the fat.) I feel like adding the plus sign is their way of segregating us. It was added to avoided confusuion, not from the plus size buyers, but from the straight sized customers that don't want to wander in there. I wish their was a store that could be like hey we're here, wer'e fat, we're proud, and we're going to eat our donuts, but really we're not any different from straight sized buyers.

  12. Inbetween - thanks for this comment...I think it's a good illustration of what people are upset with. I didn't think of the confusion on the other end (hellllo!), so that does make more sense. I suppose since I don't mind + signs, the word fat, chubby, whatevs...to me, they are merely a descriptive element stating the truth. I realize these might be upsetting and alienating to some...and I will try my best to NOT do this. Thank you!

  13. I am down with the Hefty Hideaway idea. I don't care what Forever 21 calls their plus size line, just carry TRUE plus sizes. I can fit in about half of what they sell. When I shop in the big girl section, its always a crap shoot. But if there was a platter of donuts offered, it would totally make up for it. :-)

  14. I can see why people are upset with it the change from a personal perspective but I honestly thing forever 21 did it as a business decision. Personally, I feel MORE included by having it as apart of the Forever 21 brand (with or without the "+") than I did by having it as Faith 21. I think they were probably considering things like brand recognition when they decided to change the name.
    Ideally, I would like to see more stores/all stores carry plus size without having to denote a special section to it. But I understand the logistics of it and why that may never happen. Until that happens, I'll take what I can get, plus sign or not.