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Plus Size Women Don’t Want You Either Lorna Jane

Plus sized fitness advocate Leah Gilbert hits back at Lorna Jane's refusal to sell plus sized active wear PHOTO: Nicole Spears Photography

Plus size fitness advocate Leah Gilbert hits back at Lorna Jane’s refusal to sell plus sized active wear PHOTO: Nicole Spears Photography

Read Leah’s article “I’m Plus Size and I’m an Athlete”

 

Lorna Jane says she doesn’t offer a plus size range in, what I’m sure she feels is a very simple explanation: plus size women are not my customers.

Right on Lorna, we’re not your customers – and we’re probably never likely to be either. 

The plus size fashion industry in Australia was valued at $817 million, with a projected growth rate of 4.4%.

As a Body Positive Fitness and Athleticism Advocate this article has been brought to my attention a couple of times and I have reserved my response, until now. In that time, I have been able to absorb the thoughts and feelings of the women who feel affected by the comments.

Some feel alienated by Lorna saying ‘plus size women aren’t my customers’, feeling their worth as a customer is lessened to ‘non existent’. The even bigger kicker is that this worth is determined purely by the size of their body. Some believe that as a brand, Lorna Jane has the right to decide just who they cater to and there shouldn’t be an automatic obligation to expand their range to plus size. Others call BS on the ‘no one has asked me to do plus size’ comment, along with the inference that a plus size range has been trialled with little purchasing response. Then there is someone like myself, who feels that Lorna Jane can stay exactly where they are and actually doesn’t want them to enter the plus size activewear market at all. 

As someone who trains six days a week, sometimes twice a day, I own and use a LOT of active wear. Some of it is a size 16, some of it an 18 – none of it is Lorna Jane.

 

Plus sized athlete Leah Gilbert PHOTO: Nicole Spears Photography

Plus size athlete Leah Gilbert PHOTO: Nicole Spears Photography

 

You see, I agree with Lorna Jane, I am not her customer. Perhaps I could be, but I’m not. Never have been. Never will be. As a plus size customer you get a pretty quick idea about whether a store or brand is a place for you, and Lorna Jane has never been a place for me. While I have never been offended by this exclusion, it is something that as a consumer I will always remember, regardless of whether they expand into the plus size market and this seems to be a common feeling within this niche consumer base. 

As recently as February this year the plus size fashion industry in Australia was valued at $817 million, with a projected growth rate of 4.4%. This growth is unmatched by any other specialty sector within the fashion industry. To give a greater idea of its potential, the US plus size fashion market is valued at $20.4 billion, and has been touted by Bloomberg Gadfly as the market that could save retailers in this current struggling retail climate.

You see, if all of a sudden Lorna Jane decided to enter into the plus size active wear market, I for one would be thinking it was motivated by a few million reasons, none of which had anything to do with catering to the actual consumer – and that’s when I would be calling BS.

The fact of the matter is that the average plus size activewear consumer doesn’t actually need Lorna Jane

The fact of the matter is that the average plus size activewear consumer doesn’t actually need Lorna Jane. Sure the option might be nice for those who appreciate the styles, but in general, we are happily spending our money elsewhere and actually INVESTING in brands who we feel personally aligned with. When your needs have been ignored or poorly catered to for so long, you tend to seek out the brands who ARE catering to you. Those brands spending time, research and development dollars on plus sized active women. In fact, many women across a broad range of size bases are beginning to use their purchasing power to align with a brand whose ethos speaks to them as a person. Active wear is a great example of how ethical purchasing is starting to unfold. Many women are sharing, supporting and touting activewear brands who are fully size diverse, or whose marketing promotes realistic and diverse women doing awesome things other than pose in their gear. 

So you see Lorna Jane, we are already happily wearing, supporting, and thriving in the brands who know what we already do: that ALL bodies are worthy of good health, joyful movement and kick-arse clothing that supports us along the way.

 

Here are some brands doing great work in this area:

 

Superfit Hero: 

http://superfithero.com/pages/about-us

Founded by Micki Krimmel, this brand caters from size XS to a 3XL. Established through a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, the Superfit Hero mission is to ‘make fitness more inclusive, body positive, and empowering for women.’ Superfit Hero sponsors a number of plus size athletes such as Olympic Medalist Sarah Robles, and myself.

Active Truth: 

https://www.activetruth.com.au

Hailing from Queensland, this brand are passionate about promoting the ethos that ‘healthy is an outfit that looks different on everyone.’ Their colourful and stylish products range from size 8 to 26.

Blitz Active: 

http://blitzactive.com.au/about-us.html

Developed by two plus size women from Sydney, Blitz Active cater from sizes 16 to 26 and boast a great range of colours and styles.

GRRRL Clothing: 

http://www.grrrl.com/au/sizing/

This activewear line not only donates 10% of its sales to The Butterfly Foundation and the Succeed Foundation, but the sizing of their garments is based on the shapes of athletes – no size numbers, purely shapes and measurements.

My Manifesta: 

http://www.mymanifesta.com/faq/

This size-diverse brand is known for its beautiful yoga and activewear which bears no numerical sizing – each size range is named after a flower, such as Violet and Poppy.  

 

Leah Gilbert is a triathlete, run coach & founder of Body Positive Athletes. Follow Leah Gilbert on Instagram

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