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Sour Lemons

August 12, 2013

Plus-sized fashion, or the lack of it, has really made headlines over the last several years, and yet another clothing company is in hot water for apparently refusing to cater to larger customers.

Lululemon, an upscale boutique that sells yoga pants and workout clothes for the price of what I could buy in five outfits at Goodwill, has come under fire for creating a hostile environment for both customers of size and their employees. A woman named Elizabeth Licorish (a very ironic name given the situation) who used to work at one of their shops wrote a stinging rebuke on HuffPo about what she witnessed there and its business practices. The Daily Beast and Inside Edition have also done features on Lululemon too.

To sum up the article, Licorish accuses her local Lululemon of deliberately hiding size 12 yoga pants, saying employees rolled their eyes at larger shoppers; claims a fellow employee mocked her for drinking soda and eventually was forced to drink nothing but water in reusable plastic cups; and witnessed harsh critiques from co-workers when a customer wouldn’t respond to a sales pitch.

Lululemon has responded to the controversy with this statement: “We don’t manage or merchandise our size 10s and 12s differently from any other sizes. [We] recognize fitness and health come in all shapes and sizes.” To which Licorish replied: “I wish that they would get a reality check about fitness and what fitness looks like, because fitness doesn’t always look like a size four.”

Butts Up

Lululemon is showing their ass.

If the accusations are true, then Lululemon isn’t the first retailer to dismiss fat customers. Abercrombie & Fitch caught flak a few months ago for publicly admitting they don’t carry larger sizes so they won’t lose their “cool” status (which I blogged about in an earlier FFF post). Old Navy is routinely criticized for only selling plus-sizes online, while Roaman’s and Woman Within, two catalog companies who exclusively sell extended sizes, have had backlash for not using actual fat models in their advertising (both retailers have claimed when they did use fat models many years ago, their sales actually went down).

Even if Lululemon were to offer yoga pants in my size, I’m not about to plunk down $118 for a pair. But I find it extremely ironic in a society that rants at fat people to get off the couch and exercise, it’s difficult to find decent workout clothes in extended sizes. There is Junonia, Athleta (a subdivision of Gap that goes up to a 2X) and, if you’re lucky, you may find something at Target, K-Mart, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart (if you’re not boycotting the latter). Discount chains like Gabriel Brothers and Ross might also be other options. I couldn’t even begin to find where fat guys go to buy workout apparel (so if you know, list them in the comments).

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather Hewitt permalink
    August 12, 2013 11:08 am

    This reminds me: My friend Kate is trying to tip the scales over at AE, which is running a sort of social media project. Please consider voting for her! (Her copy follows):

    I want women of all shapes and sizes to alter the way they think about beauty in America.

    Please help me support women who are fat, who are gay, who are nonconventional, who have tattoos, who are outspoken in the workplace, who are compassionate, who are kind, who are all-around-great people to know and love…

    My friend Kate is all of these things. But she needs your help. She made a profile for American Eagle’s social media project — Live Your Life. All of the finalists thus far fit into the “pretty girl” stereotypes… but she doesn’t! She is older. She is fatter. She doesn’t have high cheek bones or a plump bottom lip or a well-arched eyebrow.

    Help me spread the word and vote for her so she can be an adorably delicious sassily sexy chunkily cute LGBTQ model for an American clothing brand that she enjoys!

  2. Duckie permalink
    August 12, 2013 11:18 am

    Casual Male XL sells some Nike and Reebok clothing for larger men (though women could wear them too, if that’s your style), up to size 6X in our local store and I think they go up to 8x on their website (though I’m not 100% on the website).

    Also, I’ve found for knee-high athletic socks for large calves, X-Large Nike or Adidas soccer socks are the way to go, but they can be hard to find outside of specialty stores.

  3. nof permalink
    August 12, 2013 11:36 am

    I’m a small fat (generally size 18) and it’s remarkably hard to find workout clothes…and I’m only two-three sizes above the “average” woman! (this is not to say that larger sizes don’t also deserve clothing, merely to illustrate that the bias starts early). Lululemon sizes *stop* at “average woman”. I feel like clothing companies need to radically re-assess their sizes. Size, like many human attributes, expresses on a bell curve: most people are in the middle, with fewer and fewer people at a size as we get to the extreme on both sides (I would posit that there are about as many people in size 0 and 00 as there are in 26 and 28). It makes no economic sense why 0-8 is catered for, when 20-28 is ignored. It’s pure prejudice.

    I’m now learning to sew my own clothes, and I’ve found even plus-size patterns aren’t big enough half the time. It’s ludicrous.

    • vesta44 permalink
      August 12, 2013 1:04 pm

      nof, if you can’t find plus size patterns that you like and that fit, you could use old clothing you already have as the pattern (depending on your sewing skills). I take apart old blouses/tops that I really like and use them for patterns, making notes on construction details, etc as I take them apart. This also allows you to change things about the top that you might not have cared for so much (like shortening/lengthening sleeves/hems, adding/subtracting pockets, changing collar styles/necklines, etc). I’ve been doing this for years, and it’s much cheaper than trying to find a pattern I like when I already have the top in my closet and it’s stained, etc, and I don’t wear it anymore. Not to mention, a cloth pattern lasts a lot longer than a tissue paper one.

      • nof permalink
        August 12, 2013 2:24 pm

        I’m going to try that too (I got one R&M Richards dress on sale that is fantastic and fits me like a glove, but the brand is too expensive for me to buy their stuff, so I want to recreate the dress in a bunch of different fabrics) . I got a bunch of $1 patterns at a JoAnn’s sale to play with (no way I’m paying $20 for a pattern)–I’ve been reading how to do alterations, so once I get the pattern the way I want I’ll make muslin patterns.

        If you have any tips for sewing, let me know! I quilt, but this is my first foray into sewing anything 3-dimensional.

        • vesta44 permalink
          August 12, 2013 4:22 pm

          I use old bedsheets to make samples of the clothing from a pattern before I make it up using fabric I bought. If you baste it together, you can try it on, mark where and what kind of alterations you need to make, take it apart, make the alterations, try it on, etc. It takes longer to make an item of clothing, but at least when you’re done, you know it’s going to fit the way you want it to.

  4. Cayla permalink
    August 12, 2013 12:43 pm

    I was just at Kohl’s yesterday, and let me tell you, they had nothing above a size XL in workout clothes. In fact, most items I saw on the rack were XS-M. My mum and I are both around size 18 or 20, and there is nothing available to us. I am consistently shocked by how poor Kohl’s plus-size section is, often reduced to smaller and smaller areas. There are no running pants or shorts or exercise shirts available in sizes over an XL in the Ladies section, only heavy sweat pants.
    Apparently fat women are just supposed to be grateful for any sort of clothes to cover their body, and be indiscriminate about the awful patterns and denim stretch pants available to us. I suppose what Kohl’s is saying is that fat women should exercise in whatever clothes they have, and then once they’ve lost enough weight, they have earned the honour and privilege of being able to wear pretty exercise clothes. Thanks Kohl’s!

    I have heard tell that JC Penney has some exercise clothes in sizes over XL/14.

    • nof permalink
      August 12, 2013 2:28 pm

      My experience at JC Penney is that it’s much like Kohls’: technically they do have plus-size workout clothes, but they’re heavy sweatpants, not spandex (and by plus size I mean maybe up to a 20 if you’re lucky). What spandex I have found there is always full-length, not capri or shorts. Your store may vary, of course. They do have a nicer plus-size section overall, imo, but their workout clothes are still lacking.

      • Chutti permalink
        August 12, 2013 8:22 pm

        Ooh, I buy lots of cute workout wear at JC Penney, and I’m a 3x. Maybe it’s just your store? Go on their website and look for the “Exersion” brand.
        So far the quality has been great, and I have gotten some items on sale for under $10.

        • nof permalink
          August 13, 2013 8:04 am

          Well geez, why does my store suck? “Exersion”, I’ll have to keep a look out.

          • August 13, 2013 8:06 am

            I have tried some Exersion stuff, too. You really have to pick and choose, in my experience. Their tops are quite narrow, especially in the hips. I am a size 14 on top, and could barely get an XXL jacket to zip around me!

  5. August 12, 2013 5:02 pm

    Seriously, nobody out there wants all the heaps of money I’m willing to throw at them for comfortable, flattering workout clothes? Let Lululemon be sizest – I wouldn’t pay that much for pants, either. But it just astounds me that no other company has realized the enormous profit potential of acknowledging that fat people work out, too.

  6. August 12, 2013 8:06 pm

    Leggings (yoga pants but by a different name) at The Dreaded Store (OK, Walmart) in juniors sizes up to 4X. Nice to see that. Got some for my scrawny self. $5.88. Same price for the larger sizes.

  7. August 12, 2013 9:16 pm

    Old Navy actually works wonderfully for me – their “normal” clothes don’t fit me that well, but their workout clothes are great. I even found a decent sports bra.

    • August 12, 2013 9:58 pm

      I typically can’t wear Old Navy tops myself, they generally are too small in the bust area for me, but that obviously is going to depend person to person. I have bought loads of Old Navy bottoms and their customer service is pretty good to deal with, which is good since you can’t try on before you buy.

      I hate spending a lot of money on clothes I’m just going to sweat in, it just rankles me.

      My local Target regularly has Champion workout shorts that go to 2XL, but that’s not going to accommodate everyone.

      I feel like once I find something that works, I’ll hold onto it forever. I recently replaced some shorts from Woman Within not too long ago. (I also hate to think about the factory conditions in which these clothes were made, but I can’t fix every problem and I’m not convinced that buying more expensive clothes gets them made in better conditions anyway.)

  8. Dizzyd permalink
    August 15, 2013 7:15 pm

    Did anyone link onto the story about Lululemon’s corporate atmosphere? That was creepy but nowhere near as creepy as the links from that regarding that Landmark seminar these two people went to – it shows just how dangerous and insidious these types of things are. It was almost like a cult – the two people who went through it and wrote the articles sounded like they got sucked in but good. It’s like it takes what might be good ideas and mixes them with good old-fashioned brainwashing and interrogation techniques to the point where you totally give yourself to the leader and want to do anything to please them. You’ll even believe some BS that the leader tells you simply because he tells you that’s the way it is. It was freakin’ creepy beyond all common sense.

  9. elengendros permalink
    August 23, 2013 6:44 am

    Do you think that fat fashion is as profitable as “normal” fashion? If so, why are the corporations losing money?
    I think that they are not as much money in fatfashion than in “normal” fashion, and that’s why the bigs name don’t give a shit about including big sizes in their collections. The corporations have targets and they know their targets, it is all about the profit.

    • vesta44 permalink
      August 23, 2013 11:52 am

      I think the reason fat fashion isn’t seen as being as profitable as “normal” fashion is because as the sizes get larger, there are fewer women to buy them. After all, as a DEATHFATZ woman, I’m in that less than 1% of the female population with a BMI over 50. While those of us who are that size do have to wear clothing, we just don’t have as much purchasing power as the segment with a BMI between, say 25 and 40.
      If those of us my size or larger refuse to patronize a retailer because they don’t carry clothing to fit us, we’re not really hurting them where it counts – in their bottom line. So they don’t have to care that I’m pissed at them and won’t buy anything else from them.

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