A couple weeks ago, I found out that Ann Taylor Loft is phasing out its plus sized clothing at the end of this year. When they first launched, I bought a lot of work separates–they had the best quality slacks in the game and I gave them rave reviews in my 2019 post about the state of plus size fashion. Several years ago, I wrote a heartfelt open letter when The Limited shuttered its plus size line Eloquii. It was part of a larger social media outcry and Eloquii later relaunched as a plus only brand. I’ve been a loyal customer ever since.
However, I’m not begging for Loft to bring back plus sizes. Why? To put it plainly, they’re jerks. This news didn’t come out through a formal announcement. It was revealed (accidentally?) by a comment on one of their Instagram to blogger Jennifer Nafziger, who posted about it. Their excuse was that their business was hurt by the pandemic. A full month later, no official statement has been forthcoming. The fact that the brand couldn’t even be bothered to do a five sentence press release, or go on their socials and make the appropriate noises about how much they appreciate their plus size customers and wish they could continue to service them, speaks volumes about how little they care.
I didn’t get emotional about this one because they had gone from one of my favorite stores to “oh yeah, I forgot they have plus sizes” in just one year. I noticed last spring, when I started working from home, that the plus size “new arrivals” page would only have 5-10 items versus 30-40. The styles had gone from modest but cute work and casual wear, to an endless parade of shapeless floral print dresses, puff sleeve polyester blouses, and skinny ankle pants in neutral colors that didn’t quite reach the ankle. Complete and utter dreck. It was clear that plus size customers were and from the beginning, they didn’t put their best foot forward.
- Larger women were notably missing from their ads and social media
- They didn’t offer plus sizes in stores past the first few months of the initial launch
- They stopped offering the same range of styles and colors in plus
- The popular items that sold out quickly were never restocked
- During the pandemic, there were no plus size options for simple, high profit margin pieces like loungewear and pajamas (I mean, how hard is it to make a sweatshirt bigger?)
Mind you, 70% of women in America are plus size so there is plenty of opportunity in the market. Plus size is one of the few retail sectors that is growing, not shrinking. And Ascena Group, the parent company that owns the Loft brand, is on the verge of bankruptcy. Yet the current plus size selection on the website numbers just 69 items, while there are 656 items available in straight sizes. This doesn’t make logical or financial sense. Enjoy your failing business, Loft!
“Fashion is only fashion when the masses buy it. If it’s not bought by anyone, then it’s not fashion, it’s art.”Shawn Grain Carter, Professor of Fashion Business Management at The Fashion Institute of Technology