Despite being a retailer that prides itself on stylishly being all things to all people, your plus size market has been grossly ignored. The plus size section is relegated to 2 or 3 racks at the far end of women’s apparel, and is often mixed in with maternity. While the emergence of the Ava & Viv line, designed in collaboration with several notable fashion bloggers, was supposed to provide a fresh face, nothing changed. The most fashionable items (which were little more than colorful basics) were offered in that initial launch, and everything since then has been absolutely pitiful. At my local Target, the plus line is updated with 5-7 new pieces per season. Invariably, half of them are black or white.
Meanwhile, a quick perusal of Target.com shows a substantial collection of plus items in Target’s proprietary Merona and Mossimo lines, many of which are equivalent to the plus size lines…and none of which make it to my local Target stores, with the exception of solid color tees, cardigans, and basic slacks. The demand for fashionable plus size clothing clearly exists, as evidenced by the fact that the Lilly Pulitzer collection sold out in mere hours.
So, you’ve tried it again in a collection with Who What Wear and you’re finally doing some things right. The collaboration is a long term one and includes plus sizes. Perhaps most importantly, almost every item in the straight size line was provided in plus, in at least 2 color/pattern options. Aesthetically, the offerings are a HUGE leap forward from Ava & Viv.
However, there’s still room for improvement. The Who What Wear line was only available in a limited selection of stores, and only a few of those stores carried the plus line. As stated above, some of the items were not available plus. For example, a longline blazer in blush pink and an olive green sweater dress that I would have purchased if I had the option. Additionally, the logistics were off. The collection was stated to go live on January 31, but I couldn’t add anything to my cart until about 12:30 pm CST (and I only got to the plus size items by searching the Target website, because they weren’t up on the splash page). But the Target twitter account said the plus size items wouldn’t be available until February 1–with the likely result that some shoppers missed out entirely. Last but not least, Who What Wear is dissociating itself from the plus items. They link to the Target collection on their website, but only provide links for the straight size items. It’s kind of hard to send a message that all your customers matter when your collaborator doesn’t acknowledge half of them.
Target didn’t knock it out of the park, but it finally has a plus size collection that is comparable to Forever 21, H&M, ASOS, and others. It remains to be seen whether the progress will continue, or if this is just another means of placating the masses without really solving the problem.