Spanish clothing chain Zara hit the U.S. market offering high-end style at affordable prices. Beating out the likes of popular chains H&M and Forever 21, Zara has grown to be the world’s largest retailer and a fan favorite in the U.S. — well, only for some.
Walk into the sleek store with your hips, curves or anything above a size 12 and you’re in for a firestorm of disappointment. With nearly 1,700 stores world-wide, Zara has only taken root in the United States with 45 stores that refuse to acquiesce to the expanding waistlines of the American shopper. Australia is having a similar debate with the brand. Is this move to stick to their design principles, avoid the high-cost of plus-size fashion and cater to “fitter” women an act of friend or foe?
In a statement made to ABC News, Adweek’s Tony Chase stated, “Zara is missing a huge opportunity here in the United States. H&M and Uniqlo have done tremendous business here. Other retailers have done it here. I don’t know why it would be an issue for Zara, and they have done business here.”
As media outlets and curvy style bloggers cry foul and fat-shamming, there might be a method to Zara’s madness in discriminating against plus sized shoppers. With an obesity rate of 35.7 percent among U.S. adults — health-related conditions as a result of obesity include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer – perhaps the retailer is sending a message to the American public that encourages us to slim down, take charge of our health and reverse the growing trend toward retailer accommodating plus-size fashion.
On the other end of the spectrum, Zara’s stance on shunning plus-sizes can also be seen as fashion snobbery. Most designers and brands use tall, slim models to create a picturesque story of their brand. Their cuts can make even the slimmest shopper feel as though she needs to skip breakfast. A size 6 in traditional stores — perhaps the affect of “vanity sizing” in America — may equate to a size 4 at Zara.
Experts aren’t predicting an all-out boycott of the brand as of late. Shoppers looking for a collection that offers a wide variety of sizes will simply have to search elsewhere. Zara won’t be budging.
Do you feel that Zara should offer plus-size options for shoppers?