Why You Can’t Find Any Clothes

Posted on June 17 2019

Why You Can’t Find Any Clothes


I just going to leave this right here:

That graphic pretty much sums up the entire answer to the question “Why can’t I find any clothes?”  But since this is a blog post, I do feel compelled to talk a little about it.

It seems that we are bombarded every day with bad news about clothing retailers - department stores are closing, independent stores are struggling, malls have empty spaces, it's "so hard to cut through the noise" with an online store that many of them also fail.  Stores seem to bemoan the fact that people don't shop local, or they offer enticing shipping discounts and work hard to build personal recommendations based on your shopping history (and yes, I could swear Google has shown me ads based on my out-loud conversations because it seems Google is always listening).  It seems to be an intractable problem for apparel retailers.

But what if their real problem was that they don't carry clothes that fit most women?

Why don't plus size women spend money on clothes?

The average size of an American woman is 16/18.  As demonstrated in the first bar of the above graph, the percentage of American women who wear plus size clothing (that is, clothes size 14 and above) is 68%, and the remaining 32% are what we in the biz call “straight sized,” sizes 12 and below. The second bar in the above graphic shows the percentage of US apparel spend that goes towards plus size (18%) versus straight size (82%) clothing.  For the record, I did not get that backwards - the 68% of the population that is plus size accounts for a mere 18% of clothing spend.  So plus size women are not spending nearly as much money on clothes as straight size women are.

There’s a number of potential reasons for that.  Obesity and overweight skews toward the lower economic classes, for example.  Plus size women might be less inclined to spend a lot of money on an investment piece when their body might change so much in the next few years, they won’t fit in the garment anymore.  But, Gentle Reader, one cannot discount the third bar on the above graphic.

Can women even find great plus size clothes?

The analytics firm Edited did a survey of the top 25 largest online multi-brand retailers, which is a fancy way to say “websites with lots of brands of clothing.”  Think Shopbop, Macy’s, Net-a-Porter, rather than a brand-specific store like J. Crew.  They found that a mere 2.7% of the clothing offered is size 14 and up (did you catch that decimal point?).  For 68% of the population!  Suddenly, it seems like a miracle that the plus size community has even managed to find enough clothing to account for 18% of overall apparel spend.  They are some savvy shoppers, to be sure.

But that 2.7% isn’t spread out equally across the clothing industry.  The apparel offerings of online retailers who sell less expensive clothing, such as Target and JC Penny, are about 15-20% plus size.  The more expensive the brand, however, the smaller the plus size offering; luxury brands like Chanel and Prada have a plus size offering of just 0.1% of their total stock.  Furthermore, when stores do carry plus size clothing, that clothing is less fashion-forward, since retailers order lots of plainer clothing as opposed to smaller batches of more trendy or interesting clothing.


This would be ridiculous in any other situation

So, no matter her income, the discerning plus size shopper is forced to purchase clothing that is plainer and cheaper than what she would like.  Imagine that happening in any other industry. 

  • “I’m sorry, Doctor, I know you’d like a BMW, but since you’re a size 16, you’ll have to make do with a used Hyundai Accent.” 
  • “I’m happy to hear that you appreciate that we are a Zagat-rated restaurant and would like to make a reservation for entertaining your clients, but McDonald’s is right around the corner, they can serve you.”
  • “You want a home overlooking the golf course, with office space for your accounting business?  Let me measure your waist size, because I think there’s a studio apartment in back that you can have instead.”

How crazy does that sound?  And yet, every day the entire clothing industry whispers to plus size shoppers “We don’t want your money."  

So, that is why you can’t find any clothes to buy - less than 3% of the clothing offered is supposed to satisfy 68% of the women in America.

And that’s why Three Wrens exists.  It’s your time to look gorgeous and feel confident in Three Wrens jeans, dresses, summer skirts and tank tops, romantic or professional tops, and amazing jewelry and scarves.  Don’t forget that you get 10% off your first order with the coupon code NEWCUSTOMER (some jewelry excluded). Find us at www.threewrensboutique.com.   Happy Shopping!



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