Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Sometimes size does matter

The subject line of the latest email from Petite Affair read “Fab AW'09 all on genuine petite models...”. That petite models are modelling clothes for petite women seems to be an odd focus for an email subject line.

It’s odder still when you see that on the product pages of the Petite Affair website, the clothes aren’t modelled by people at all; the product shots are silhouettes against a white background. It’s only within the “latest collection” section of the site that you see ensembles on models.

The subject line does raise an interesting point, though: Do people who buy speciality-size apparel want to see the goods on speciality-size models?

The team at Marisota seem to think not, judging from the product photos on its website:

The Simply Be models are definitely curvier:

Ditto those of Yours Clothing, Roman Originals, Kanopy, and Freemans, amongst others.

Then again, some fashion retailers that sell a plus-size range as well as “regular” apparel seem to use the same product shots and models for both (yes, I’m looking at you, La Redoute).

Heading in the other direction, sizewise, lingerie specialist Little Women does indeed feature models who are relatively little on top:

Apparently there isn't much call for plus-size male models to show off apparel for “big and tall” men. For instance, although the John Banks website features separate sections for “big” and “tall”, the allegedly big men are just as slim as the tall men:

While I understand that marketing is largely aspirational, I wonder if, say, women who are a size 20 with sizable hips would be more apt to order a dress from a catalogue or a website if they saw the dress worn by a model whose figure more closely resembled theirs than Victoria Beckham's. Personally when catalogue copy cites a particular dress as being ideal for pear-shape figures or especially flattering for small breasts, I'd love to see said dress on a woman with those physical assets, rather than on a generic model.

During the past few weeks the media have been chattering away about a model featured in a recent issue of American Glamour, simply because she has generous hips and a stomach that, when she's seated, touches the top of her thighs. That a woman who resembles a significant portion of Glamour readers is featured in Glamour shouldn't be news. Likewise, that a cataloguer of petite apparel is using petite models shouldn't be notable enough to merit an email subject line, should it?--SC

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