Gap Drops XXL Sizes for Men
I was interviewed for an article that ran in the Chicago Sun-Times today regarding the Gap's exciting new decision (cough) to drop men's XXL clothing from its stores. I'm not sure if I've written about it all before but the Gap (along with Banana Republic) have historically been the two stores where I'm a XXL myself - everywhere else I'm deemed a L or XL.
I got quoted in the article, even though the name of the blog is a bit off. Note that the article leads with a guy who lost weight.
Paul McAleer is a Chicago Web designer and developer who created and writes for My Big Fat Blog, which aims to report on "fat awareness and fat rights." He said the Gap's decision to pull the XXL from stores is part of a retail trend to make the bricks-and-mortar store less plus-size friendly. "To me it says that fat people, both men and women, do not fit within the Gap's brand image," McAleer said. Last year Old Navy, a youth-oriented brand of clothing owned by Gap Inc., pulled women's XXL from its stores, making it available only online.
And really, Old Navy went up to a 4X in stores before relegating fat women to the online ghetto. Gap's response to the downsizing?
The Gap stands by its decision. "Overall, the majority of customers have appreciated the fact that we feature more medium- or large-size items in our stores," [spokesperson Kris] Marubio said.
And men didn't appreciate having XL and XXL? Incidentally, Marublo's exclusion of XL here suggests that the same fate could befall that size someday. I'm guessing that the real motivator here is money. It costs less to have a smaller selection, no matter what sizes are on the chopping block. (This is evidenced a bit by this related ST piece about how difficult it is for women to find a friggin' size 12 in boutiques... and mentions a store where a "large" is a size 8. 8!)
Here are a few more things I said about the Gap's decision that didn't make it into the piece:
- Gap's sizing - at least for men - is definitely skewed small. As mentioned at the outset, the Gap and Banana Republic are the only stores I've shopped where my size is a XXL. The Gap is leaving money on the table by limiting their sizes.
- It's difficult for me to guess what went wrong with both Old Navy and the Gap's expanded size offerings, but I'd chalk a lot of it up to marketing. With Old Navy's situation, their women's plus-size line was given a promotional push at the beginning and then... nothing. It was only by chance that I discovered the Gap sold anything in my size. The real solution is to make more sizes available in store. We have money. We want to spend it. Any retailer that makes it difficult to do so should be avoided.
- The Old Navy situation certainly prompted a myriad letters from readers of blogs such as Big Fat Blog and The Pretty Pear, all of which received canned form letters. The best course of action is to take our money elsewhere, and support businesses that respect fat people.
- Lots of people, when they hear this news, may equate this with the elimination of an uncommon of "overly" large size. The truth of the matter is that as people have gotten taller and bigger over time, the selection of clothing available hasn't adjusted accordingly. More and more, we're shunned to online stores instead of being offered real options offline.
And there you have it. The Gap just lost all of my business.