Dear Marketing and Purchasing Departments of Target Canada, and whomever else is interested.
Yesterday was a weird day for plus size fashion in my little world. I woke up that morning to a truly kick-butt article on The Grid, discussing how lucrative the plus-size fashion industry is in Canada. Some of my favourite local plus size fashion bloggers and clothing boutique/store owners were interviewed and photographed, and the published result is gorgeous. It has info graphics, and pretty people wearing pretty dresses, and quotes from fabulous designers like Jessica Biffi, and actually spoke well about a plus-size fashion-lover's fight for fashion.
I'll let you in on a little secret of my personal fight... I cried in front of my mother the day before my college graduation, because all I could find was "granny wear" and dresses that were meant for funerals. How do you celebrate when you look ready to bury someone? This was my graduation. I was ready to shine. And now that I no longer had to worry about tuition fees, nor books, I had money to spend. It took me most of the day to find something that was even remotely fun to wear, while all the store-front windows had sparkly dresses that I could literally only dream of wearing. I could have had a million dollars in my pocket, but that still wouldn't make the dress I had my eyes on fit at that moment.
If only I could have told my past self that "it gets better." And it has. I have some amazing outfits in my closet today, literally from all over the world thanks to the internet. But, is it so crazy to want to be able to try on clothes before purchasing them? 'Cause right now I do a lot of squinting and head tilting with tongue sticking out while I concentrate and try to imagine a simple shirt I'm seeing on my computer screen and how it might look on my frame. I guess I should be happy at developing a new skill... I'm getting really good at eyeballing an online picture and imagining myself wearing it in place of the product model. I guess what I'm most tired about though, are the border taxes and blackmail that I have to go through with shipping companies just for a $10 shirt. One particularly popular shipping company mails out unsuspecting bills months after the shipment, without warning. So not only do I have to budget for time of purchase, and time of delivery, but now I have to budget for lots of time after delivery. Where does this end?
Bottom line: I want to be able to buy more of my clothes at local, physical stores that I respect like all the cool kids do.
So yeah, I had high hopes for Target Canada being another store that I could rely on. The US plus-size customers can do this, so why couldn't I?
That article from TheGrid also brought up an interesting point that kind of shocked me. I was never ever made aware of this excuse about not making trendy clothing for a plus sized woman, until I read yesterday morning that, "The notion that they [plus size women] won’t spend the money because they plan to lose the weight is outdated."
REALLY?!? Is THIS why I couldn't find anything to fit growing up? Because I was expected to "grow out" of being fat and need smaller clothes soon?? Don't worry, she can wear an XL garbage bag until the Weight Watchers diet kicks in? And hey, the dark colour plastic looks slimming?
So, the reason behind this open letter: I recently heard from a fellow fashion blogger that there wasn't a plus size section to be found at the brand spanking new Targets in Canada. This shook my world. I went all cartoon-bug-eyed at the mere thought of this being true. Around this time last year, I had went to Buffalo and totally enjoyed a full day of shopping that included a trip to Target. I brought home a ton of stuff. Clothing stuff. Stuff that fit like a glove, and looked pretty to boot. I wore shorts for the first time in years thanks to that Target. So I've been carrying this ill perceived notion since I heard about Zellers being bought out that I had one less store to have to cross the border for clothes soon, 'cause finally Target was coming to me instead.
Like any good blogger, I emailed a contact I have in Target's PR just after I heard this news. I wanted to hear what the source had to say. What was there view? Were shipments possibly just delayed? I asked, "I would like to find out if Target will be carrying a collection of women's plus size clothing, as none were yet found in the Guelph store." (copied right from my latest email)
And this was their response yesterday: "No, that is not accurate. While we don’t have a separate area of the store, we have incorporated plus sizes throughout our assortments so that in the majority of lines we have size ranges from XS to XXL. " (again, verbatim)
XS to XXL
I'm truly sorry if I'm bursting any bubbles Target, but selling clothes up to "XXL" which equates to a small-fit "X/1X" or a "16/18" is truly a token gesture. Plus sizes are known for going up to 6X (and it saddens me that most plus-size-carrying stores in Canada only go up to 3X/4X.)
After reading those lines in my email, I just about ran to the closest target (which takes nearly an hour to get to for me.) And yeah, the email was correct. I saw XXL, 16s and a couple 18s sprinkled around the Centrepoint Mall Target.
Centrepoint Mall Target: Womenswear Department
XXL/TTG Tag - Largest size to be found at Target Canada.
Tags for XXL/TTG comes in two colours (pink and grey)
At risk of sounding like a five year old with a bad case of the tantrums... Why do I not have access to these styles below??
Do you realise what a lot of us are willing to do to have that affordable, Merona® black and white, plus sized, long-sleeved cardigan that's only $24.99?? Have I mentioned border crossing yet?
I would even break my rule of not buying anything black-based this year just to own it, it's that special.
Merona® is an exclusive, owned by Target, brand. I'm trying to figure out the concept of creating these lovely clothes, but selectively selling them only to your US market. Sure, Canucks love to say they're not Americans, but do you think the border makes us different enough to not want to look just as pretty? Is it the dreaded border?
I was under the impression that NAFTA made it much easier for businesses to trade over the border, so if you shipped in a t-shirt to your store, it would cost me $9.99 + 13% HST to purchase it from you, but if I tried buying that same $9.99 tee while it was still in the US, the fees and taxes could wind up making that same garment double or even triple in price for me, because I'm paying you roughly the same amount, but I'm also paying the government for not buying locally. And let me tell you, that t-shirt looks awesome with a $11.29 price tag, but sucks at $30.
If this is the "true Target brand experience" brought to Canada that has been cited on countless websites before the grand opening, colour me highly unimpressed.
PSST, hey Aeryn! Are you boycotting??
No! No, I'm not saying "down with Target", just because I can't find clothes to wear. Heck, I bought a really nice necklace and gum while scoping out the store. I just need my displeasure to be heard, 'cause I didn't get to experience what we were (all?) promised.
EDIT: SUCCESS!! Did you hear?! Target is bringing in plus size clothes to Canada by early 2015, WOOT!