Did y’all see this? Forever 21 is launching a plus-size line, called Faith 21, starting in May. That’s the good news.
The bad news? “Junior plus sizes include XL, 1X and 2X.” Dude, they didn’t even have XL before? Junior XL? Sigh. And of course they stop at 2X. And of course it’s a junior 2X, which could mean anything. I wear 2X tops from Target, but the 2X I ordered from Threadless is tighter than a whole lot of XLs I own. For reference, in non-junior tops, I wear XL or 1X, 16/18 straight or 14/16 plus. (My ass is sized out of junior plus entirely.) So this appears to be one more store introducing a so-called plus line that amounts to them extending sizes all the way up to… the smallest possible “plus size.” (My favorite example of this will always be J. Crew’s entire size 16 section. And for the record, even when I did wear mostly straight 16s, I didn’t fit into theirs.) So, you know, this is the sound of one hand clapping. Softly.
Having griped, however, I will say that “plus lines” like this are a godsend for true in-betweenies. And having been thin, fat, and in-between, I really believe that’s got to be the second most frustrating size range, after 26+. People on either side usually assume it means you have a choice of buying from plus or straight lines, and very occasionally that’s true — but more often it means you live in the substantial gulf between a Gap 14/16 and a Lane Bryant 14/16, and if you’re really lucky, you know of 2 or 3 stores that carry stuff that fits you. (I was actually thrilled when I gained enough weight to get out of that limbo and have a lot more options among plus sizes, not so long ago.) When you consider that truly in-between in-betweenies are awfully close to the average American woman’s size, according to every article about plus-size fashion ever, it’s even more fucked up that clothing retailers would allow that hole to remain empty for so damned long.
So on behalf of my in-betweenie sisters, I’m excited about this and hope it does well. On behalf of all fatties, I’m excited about a baby step in the right direction from a company I really never expected to make the slightest pretension to giving a rat’s ass about the plus market. But it is no more than a baby step. A baby baby step at that. They’re only launching Faith 21 in a few markets at first — not including Chicago, grrr — to see if it’s worth doing elsewhere. (It’ll also be available online.) So let’s just say you will not be seeing my surprised face if it turns out they chuck the whole thing after three months, claiming the market just wasn’t there.
At least for now, though, they’re talking the talk. Senior Marketing Manager Linda Chang says, “We definitely feel that our entire customer base in all markets would love our plus-size line, so hopefully it will blow out at our large stores and we can continue with a roll-out to the rest of our markets.” I’ve got my fat fingers crossed.
(Via e-mail from Shapeling Brittney.)