?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Incentives vs. bias - Input Junkie
July 15th, 2010
11:02 am

[Link]

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Incentives vs. bias
I was looking at this question, and it occurred to me that clothing for fat women at least used to be a prime example of an obvious market not being served because of prejudice. I was wondering if large size clothing has gotten significantly better and more available-- a fast google didn't turn up the amount of complaint on the subject I used to see.

Even if things have gotten a lot better, it would still count as a good example of incentives taking a very long time to work, and which haven't done anything to weaken the bias.

I'll split the $10 (which at this point looks like an annoying complication rather than an incentive) if you help me win it.

Addendum: Thanks very much. I'm taking this over to the Less Wrong thread.

(20 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
From:twistedchick
Date:July 15th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Some of it has -- but the definition of 'large' seems to be shifting. Also, much depends on money. Those who have a lot of money to spend will be able to find clothes in their sizes much more easily, and have that clothing be flattering, comfortable and fashionable. Those who have less money will have a more difficult time. The LLBean outlet stores, for instance, theoretically stock my size but actually only have it in jeans; the shirts in the corresponding size are labeled "women's" and are available only through the catalog, not in-house. I have complained about this to them. There is still a significant lack of sports clothing -- suitable for running, biking, boating, whatever -- at REI; their tops are designed for women with less-than-significant bustlines, and are not shaped or darted properly even when they're nearly the right size. They do, however, have excellent winter sweaters, both women's and men's, but sweaters are adaptable to body shape; their shoes are great. I have recently found a running store, Fleet Feet, that also stocks sports bras in sizes that I will look at closely next time I'm in the area -- a good sports bra should be comfortable and not make me feel like I'm in an elastic prison, and when I looked they had my size (!) but I didn't have time to try it on.

So, to address the question: there's no real incentive for LLBean to stock women's sizes or plus sizes in their stores even though it would be a real service to the customer, because they have so much else in their stores (shoes, canoes, menswear, camping gear) that they probably don't see the point to attracting more women. There is an incentive for REI to stock more clothing that fits larger women, because REI is member owned and not all members are small, but every time I ask I am told they have trouble getting such clothing from their suppliers and they are continuing to try, however imperfectly. Fleet Feet obviously sees the need to serve people of as wide a range of size as they can, in order to get a larger slice of a niche market, and their payoff is that they get repeat customers who are willing to drive a distance to get very good service, clothes that fit, and a healthier customer base. FF really supports running and walking, and has sports clinics, sponsored hikes and so on.

Does any of that help?
[User Picture]
From:chomiji
Date:July 15th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)
(Link)

Are you familiar with Junonia? They specialize in active sports clothing for plus sizes. I have bought my sz 22 teen daughter things like ski-type snow pants and zip-off hiking pants there.

They are pricey, but they're there, which wasn't the case a decade or two ago.

But you're still absolutely right about the lack of bricks-and-mortar stores at which you can just go in and try things on.

From:twistedchick
Date:July 15th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I will check on Junonia -- however, I have some doubt that clothing that will fit your daughter will fit me, because at 56 my bust is significantly lower than hers is. The way in which shirts and other tops are constructed is generally designed for people whose bodies have not yet begun to move in accordance with gravity -- which is why I much prefer trying things on in person.
[User Picture]
From:lysystratae
Date:July 16th, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
(Link)
Their catalogs usually include a few older models as well as the usual younger ones, so you can see what the clothes would look like on a lower bustline.
[User Picture]
From:onceupon
Date:July 15th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It is marginally better for SOME people and exponentially worse for other fatties.

There are more disposable brands making SLIGHTLY larger sizes. But if you look at the measurements, their XXL is equivalent to, like, a medium in a different brand. And they have a very limited idea of what constitutes "plus size" - then when the line fails, they blame fatties for not shopping there.

Old Navy is kind of the classic example. Old Navy carried plus sizes in select stores. They did not advertise that they carried plus sizes (they still don't, for all you can't escape those fucking mannequin ads) nor were they a reliable provider of which stores carried the line.

They pulled the line, ostensibly because of lack of consumer support, before word of mouth could let most people know it was available. They moved to only offering it online.

Originally, you could order online and return instore. While they offer free shipping on returns for most other areas of their store, they don't for the plus sizes. So, you buy an item, pay shipping. Now you can't return to stores any more so, you return an item, pay shipping. Exchange an item, pay both shipping to return the original AND for the new replacement item. They still don't advertise and they still blame fatties for not supporting the brand. We're supposed to be "lucky" they even sell stuff on the website.

But their sizing is so inconsistent anyway that it's near impossible to get a good fit from item to item on the first shot. *laugh*

It'd be funny if it weren't so common.

Lesley and I did a two-part podcast about Fatshion that addressed a lot of this, actually.

Plus size retail seems to go in cycles.
[User Picture]
From:vvalkyri
Date:July 15th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Where do stores like Lane Bryant come into the mix?
[User Picture]
From:ice_hesitant
Date:July 15th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
(Link)
In Canada, we have an absolutely useless chain called AdditionElle. Their clothing is horrible and unstylish, and their advertising has no flair and seems counter-productively embarrassed about the models' weight. They don't make anything that fits my life partner properly because her boobs are smaller than what they require from plus sized folk.

The best store for my partner in terms of cuts and stylishness has been Banana Republic.
[User Picture]
From:vvalkyri
Date:July 15th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Wow. When I've been in Lane Bryant (couple times for bridal shower buys) I've often been sad that their stuff doesn't come in my size.

Fashion Bug / Plus has also done that to me -- the interesting looking suits in the window for the Plus side of the store may or may not also exist in the small side of the store.
[User Picture]
From:lysystratae
Date:July 16th, 2010 05:31 am (UTC)
(Link)
That annoys me from the reverse side, lol - they make something cute in a small size that would look good on a larger girl, but they don't make it in a larger size. Then they make somethin that would make most larger girls look like an alien or their grandmother and wonder why it doesn't sell, but hey - they didn't make it in a small size. What, they don't think we have any taste? Have they seen what Britney Spears wears? Taste isn't a size.

Wow, I'm all over my soapbox tonite.... sorry :)
[User Picture]
From:lysystratae
Date:July 16th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
(Link)
Lane Bryant annoys me way more than Old Navy (and yes, I'll admit I'm biased, because Old Navy is the onlhy company I've found with jeans that actually fit me without being so long in the waist that I can attach them to my brastraps) because even tho they share the same name, you can't get something from the store on the website or in the catalog, and vice versa. F'r instance, they had a top I just loved in the store, but they only had it up to a size 22. I figured I'd order it online in my size, went to ask the salesgirl for the item number so I could find it easily, and was told the store items are in-store only. The website carries web-only. the catalog carries catalog-only. There is little crossover, and when there is it's because all 3 division happened to decide to carry something.
I've also found the fabrics on the dressier stuff tend to fall apart way faster than they should, especially since the casual shirts tend to last forever. Oh, and good luck finding a bra over a 44c; I don't know if they don't order very many so the larger sizes sell out faster, or if they just don't carry them in-store, but my 48D's are apparently out of luck.
[User Picture]
From:onceupon
Date:July 16th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
LB, Avenue, and to some extent stores like Catherine's and Fashion Bug have long been the "reliable" option for plus size women. Which really means you could reliably get awful things there for too much money but which mostly fit. Usually made out of polyester.

LB has responded to the economic crisis by going upscale. Their prices are even higher and they have a special collection that is priced even HIGHER. Like, $100 sleeveless tops kind of priced higher. But the quality isn't there to justify those prices. Avenue has taken the opposite track - they've lowered their price points and become an actually affordable place to shop for many more women. Their clothes are not the highest quality but that isn't really any different from what they were making before and selling for more money.

Neither store (nor the others I mentioned) escape the size variability. I wear, at Avenue, a 24 in jeans and a 28 in their dress pants. But they don't carry 28s in store. But I can also wear the 26.

LB, on the other hand, I've got stuff I got from them 10 years ago that's a 14/16 that still fits but the 28s from today are too small in key areas.

And because different colors of the same item are often made not only in different factories but in entirely different countries, there's still no consistency even in THE SAME ITEM. Drives me insane. You can't just order from a catalog and KNOW that something is going to fit - LB is especially guilty of changing their fit style every year or two.

Torrid has addressed some of the market gap - they started as the fat version of Hot Topic and moved into mainstream trendy clothing. But their prices keep it from being accessible to a lot of younger people - the people who are their real demographic.

Dots and Rainbow actually get it right - they carry from a 0 to a 24 in their stores - but they cut on a junior's model, which means smaller in the hips and bust, which means a lot of adult women can't take advantage. Still, it's disposable fashion and I'm really glad there is a resource for it for younger fats.

Basically, the largest retailers determine what they are going to sell and we buy it. Because there are no other alternatives. This may or may not be in any way related to current fashions.

Torrid is pretty decent at being on-trend, but like I said, buying anything full-price from Torrid can be a powerfully painful experience.
[User Picture]
From:thespian
Date:July 16th, 2010 05:27 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I don't know where you are, but here in the Boston area, the three Avenue locations I go to (Watertown, Field's Corner and Medford) all carry all pants, skirts, tops up to a 32. They had some jeans in 34 last Thanksgiving. The two Avenues I went to in Atlanta also had jeans up to 30/32. We had problems finding 30/32 in Buffalo when my mother took me there, but that was also on December 27th.

When I was in Atlanta, and 384lbs, I had no problem finding stuff there at all.
[User Picture]
From:lysystratae
Date:July 17th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I've had the same problem with LB's sizes changing over the years; I've got a pair of 26/28 jeans from 1989 that fit perfectly when I bought the; still fit 10 years later when if I wanted to buy LB pants I had to special order size 32 from their catalog; are actually 4 inches too big now due to some weight loss over the last 2 years, and I still can't fit into a 26/28 at theri store.
From:wolfdancer
Date:July 15th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)

Just My Size

(Link)
Is not a bad bet, most shirts are a bit short for me, but got a very cool dress this last mt.
[User Picture]
From:sartorias
Date:July 15th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I found a store that has some awesome (that is, by my taste) not only for women of various sizes, but for various ages:

Tiendo Ho.

The various lines have models, but you can mix and match everything. I walked into their Santa Barbara store and fell in love.

I just wish they put the sale stuff on the website.
[User Picture]
From:elektra
Date:July 15th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)

Comfortable bras !!

(Link)
When I was much larger (before reduction surgery) I was accosted by a women who thrust a pamphlet into my hands claiming it would change my life. It did. Decent Exposures makes comfortable bras for women of all sizes, in a variety of styles. They hand make each bra to order, will customize to your preference, and will "adjust" bras to fit.
Over time, they've added to they're product line, including baby wear and other specialty items.
Try them--you won't regret it.
[User Picture]
From:chomiji
Date:July 16th, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)

Re: Comfortable bras !!

(Link)

The problem I have with Decent Exposure bras is the gathering of the cups at front center. I have an area of scar tissue on one breast from a lumpectomy right where that occurs on the Decent Exposure bras, and the gathered fabric is very uncomfortable there - I get welts across the scar from the pressure of the ridges.

It took me about a year and a lot of cash outlay (because it would take several hours for problems to show up sometimes, so I bought bras that I ended up being unable to wear) before I found a bra that I could tolerate for an entire day (Wacoal Awareness Soft Cup and its sibling, Wacoal Everyday Soft Cup, in case anyone has a similar issue ... yes, the prices are outrageous).

(At 42DD, going without is not really an option.)

[User Picture]
From:agrumer
Date:July 15th, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The author uses the phrase "cognitive bias", which is the tendency to draw incorrect conclusions due to cognitive factors. I suppose prejudice is supported by cognitive bias, but they're not the same thing. If we established that the dress-making industry had, over time, started catering to the large-size market to a greater degree than they had previously, that wouldn't establish an overcoming of cognitive bias unless we could track down which particular cognitive bias had been involved, and that it had in fact been overcome.

Also, I have no idea why the author thinks the potential for monetary rewards should enable people to suddenly overcome their own mental limitations. Our current financial troubles are due to the actions of people whose thinking was clouded by greed. As Upton Sinclair famously said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
[User Picture]
From:nancylebov
Date:July 16th, 2010 08:15 am (UTC)
(Link)
If you want to come over to LW, it's a good place for civilized arguing.

I might have been jumping to a conclusion about whether clothes for fat women was a good example of that the original poster was looking for.

As for your second point, you're right. In fact, there's some evidence that high rewards make people less creative.

[User Picture]
From:terriwells
Date:July 15th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's also not a lot of fun if you're not exactly overweight, but sort of an odd shape. A few years ago my weight went up, and so did my cup size. I've lost most of the weight (mostly for health; I went diabetic after putting on the weight, and losing it makes the diabetes easier to control). I didn't lose the cup sizes, and at this point I'm pretty sure I won't. I've had lingerie and other clothing that fit me everywhere except for the bust. Size 10 women apparently are NOT, according to most clothing makers, supposed to wear a 38DD bra, but there it is. (I get my bras at Lane Bryant, NOT Victoria's Secret).
nancybuttons.com Powered by LiveJournal.com