Why In-Store Availability Matters

Andrea sea kayaking in plus sized apparel from REI
sea otters

If you’re a plus-sized reader, you know that there’s no such thing as participating in an outdoor activity spontaneously. Especially when traveling. If you didn’t pack for it, you’re not doing it.

No new adventure is complete without first spending weeks online researching brands, gear, and measurement charts to determine if the gear you need even exits in your size, let alone price range.

If your search is successful, then you enter the labyrinth of online shopping….ordering a few sizes of the exact same item from a few different brands, because you know better than to trust online measurement charts. How can we, as every brand uses a different base-size model? (Read more about this from our friends at Alpine Parrot here). You drop hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, and wait anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks for shipping, in anticipation of the giant box you’re about to receive.

If you’re lucky, something fits.

Good quality and great fabric too? You’ve hit the jackpot.
And if not, well sounds like you’ll be sitting on the sidelines once again.

Either way, you’re still left with the task of returning everything else, and waiting for the credit (less shipping fees) to hit your account, rubbing salt in the shopping-experience wound.

But what if an opportunity arises without a 3 day – 3 week lead time? You’re SOL baby.

Because even though approximately 70% of the US population is plus-sized, only about 18% of apparel companies build product in that size range. And even fewer stores carry plus/extended sizes on-site. There is no “running down to the shop to try things on” or “grab last minute”. It’s just not an option.

The good news is – this is changing.

This is me last Spring, 12 hours after deciding I was definitely going to kayak with sea otters the next morning . Not 3 days. Not 3 weeks.

No big deal, except I didn’t pack for outdoor activities on this trip. It was a business trip. I had dresses, a blazer, and fabulous lime green trousers, none of which were sea worthy.

But sea otters!! How could I miss this opportunity?!

Fortunately REI’s marketing had made its way into my feed earlier in the month (and I happen to keep my eye on industry goings-on). I knew they had recently released their Trailmade size-inclusive collection (shop here), available in a majority of stores across the US.

I was able to go online the night before the outing, confirm that the nearest REI had the product I wanted, available in my size. I drove 15 minutes to the local store, grabbed my sizes off the rack (assorted in all colors, with all sizes on the rack together), tried them on, and confirmed the fabric was great & they fit me perfectly.

45 minutes from door to store to door, I had what I wanted, in my size, with all the features I needed, that fit my body… so I could participate in the outdoor activities without hesitation or compromise the next morning.

This is what inclusion looks like. Being able to drop in, at any time, get your hands on product, and walk away satisfied, with what you need to get outside to do the things you love is imperative. No settling for less than. Regardless of your size. 

Sadly, this is not the norm for folks in larger bodies. Yet.

I am grateful to be part of the apparel industry, and to be a part of the movement that is working toward inclusion for folks of all body types. I’m proud we’re making headway, but there is still so much work to be done.

The majority of people are looking for more size-inclusive brands and size-inclusive retailers. I assure you, there is PLENTY of market-share to go around.

Folks in larger bodies are wanting so badly to participate – but they have nothing to wear. They’re ready to spend their money, but can’t find brands to give it to*.

Your brand, your shop, could be part of the solution.

Make Plus Equal can help. We’ve been championing size-inclusion in the apparel industry since 2015, with no intention of stopping, until plus-sized offerings equal those available in straight sizes.

Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss opportunities for your business to Make Plus Equal.

*H/t to Mirriam-Webster for now permitting us to end sentences with prepositions, even though it’s against every fiber of my being. Not gonna lie, as a certified word-nerd it feels kinda liberating. ;D

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