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?

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28 Comments

  1. I think Hollister already does this and people still shop there. It is a teen store though, but I don’t think it will make a difference. Plugs sized options would be nice, but I think they will be okay if they don’t offer.

  2. Of course ABC news would just happen to find not one but TWO overweight black fashion bloggers as if there are no white ones out there. They do this stuff on purpose, and too many people don’t see it.

    • @__A: Agree! I was thinking that too! We aren’t the only fat people in this country.

    • @__A:
      lol, glad you noticed; like it’s not even a conspiracy theory bc it’s so freakin obvious! just like they had that black women special about how black women are hopelessly single nobody want them -____- shiiit w/e that’s not my life! this black woman here has had men of all races, and has a man. it just gets ridiculous sometimes-how they go out of their way to make us look bad.

  3. There are many stores that only cater to certain sizes. I dont find it to be fashion snobbing.

  4. If your too fat to shop there then go to another store. Can i be mad the Lane Bryant doesnt sell my size?? Every store doesnt need to sell plus sizes.

    • thank you! I love Zara in San Francisco. The clothes are off the hook and not tooo trendy but something you can wear year after year.

      Stay in your lane and shop where they make your size.

  5. Protest all you want but you can vote in the free market by not shopping at the place. I never knew Zara was THAT popular but I guess.

  6. The main reason this story is so big around the nation is precisely what the ladies are dancing around. There is not enough FASHIONABLE clothing for plus size women. We have large outlets that could careless about fat fashion because it’s harder to market and calls for more creativity on behalf of agencies which are notorious for cutting corners and resorting to stereotypical images to sell products.

    Everyone that commented in the video about the price of clothes rising as result of compensating for larger women is a liar. These people make all their clothes in third world countries. It’s as asinine as Apple saying they couldn’t produce a iPhone at the same price if it was made in America as opposed to a sweatshop in China. It’s absurd and egregious and shows how much these large companies like Zara hate the people that buy its clothes. Zara is shameful but they could give a fuck

    • Well not really. Plus size clothes do cost more because of the additional fabric. There’s no such thing as a plus size iPad, they are one size fits all.

      Zara doesn’t seem to have anything against people who buy their clothes since they continue to expand (no pun intended) around the world. Plenty of retailers have stepped up to offer plus size assortments, so you really can say there are no choices. Every major retailer offers a plus size assortment, even if it is only available online.

      Perhaps Zara’s designers believe that their wares look better on thinner women, and they are entitled to believe that and create a business model based on that.

  7. I agree with Shell, Shop somewhere else. I love to shop at Zara, it’s actually one of my favorite clothing stores and I’m a size 6 which fits into the medium scale. America needs to understand that a size 12 is not a healthy size and no one should be campaigning to allow stores to include that size or ones above it. ABC should do news stories that focus on healthy activity, i.e. exercise, healthy eating and not what size of clothes European stores carry.

    • @HopeMZ: Not true, I work out daily and I am a vegetarian at 5’9 and I am a size 12, my size 6 cousin has cancer….your statement is not necessarily true.

    • @HopeMZ: ” America needs to understand that a size 12 is not a healthy size and no one should be campaigning to allow stores to include that size or ones above it.”

      this statement is so innacurate and problematic that i don’t even know where to start!

    • @HopeMZ: Dr. Hope you statement is not true. You can be just as unhealthy at a size 6 as one can at a size 12. In other words a size 12 person can be more healthy than a size 6 person.

  8. The fashion industry is beholden to the realities of geometry, simple mathematics and the phenomena of the anatomical distortion of the human form that being overweight presents, I am afraid.

    I used to be a clothing designer and manufacturer who had a successful, plus size line we offered to Filenes and TJ Maxx. The challenge with plus size women’s bodies, in light of fashion, is their measurements. Plus size women often have bust, waist and hip measurements that are either the same, or close enough together that it is not possible to develop a pattern for them that has a tapered waistline. Now, they may be distributed in various ways around the entire body, but the overall circumference starts to get very close per point of design for a garment pattern.

    At best, the development of stretch fabrics helped the industry to cater to heavy women. However, everything changes when a woman’s waist is as big, or close to as big as her waist and hips. As well, when women gain weight, they tend to do so very disproportionately, which means it is nearly impossible to anticipate why (or where) a woman is “plus size.” Specifically, is it her bust that is huge? Her waist? Her hips/buttocks? Is it her height in proportion to the rest of her (is she short with a big tummy or big hips etc..) Are her arms too large for the sleeves? Are her breasts hanging onto, laying on or close to her waist? (this is called having a long or low “apex” measurement. This means the garment can not have a particularly defined waist line.

    I say this let women know that the fashion industry struggles enormously with trying to create wearable and pretty clothing for heavy women. It is a challenge because women gain weight in various places, disporportionately. As a rule, the industry compensates for this by doing two things: 1. using stretch fabrics 2. making loose fitting, drapey clothing that does not have a strict fit through the bust, waist or hips, i.e. “The Jill Scott Caftan.”

    What ultimately occurs is that high fashion brands or high fashion knock off brands (like Zara), cannot cater to these women because the basic pattern shape of their clothing that requires certain measurements be within given tolerances, more less than each other, cannot be achieved. For example, if a woman is plus sized because she has huge double D breasts that hang on top of, or very close to her waist; she cannot wear a strapless dress. Why? Because the sheer weight of her breasts will pull the top of her dress off of her. She may, however, be able to wear an elastic strapless or gathered bust dress. This option is a great deal more Ashley Stewart than it is Zara or Louis Vuitton. Design companies and brands that specialize in bigger shapes and stretch fabrics are in a better position to accomodate heavy women and the complexity of shapes their bodies present. A company like Zara is better at smaller, “high fashion,” where the clothing styles are tightly cut and defined.

    Also, plus-size garments can use twice or three times the amount of fabric as clothing that is sized 0-12. This impacts the price in the cutting room, particularly if the company is using prints or narrow width fabrics.

    It is nothing personal, it is just simple math and geometry.

    • I do wish there were a way to throw laurels around your head for that response. I’ve never heard such an intelligent answer on the subject. “Plus Size” in recent years has been close to my circle: though thin, I have an annoying chest size (G!) and a small waist: I can’t wear anyone’s strapless. Regular shirts ride whenever I use my arms. Button shirts ain’t happening.

      Size 10 waist? Too bad. My legs would cinch off due to the thigh real estate.

      Since there is no defined specific template for “plus size” making clothes to accomodate it AND be fashionable at the same time is nearabouts impossible.

    • @Tallulah Belle: This topic is old now but I had to reply to this comment. I totally agree with it!

      A few years ago I got into making my own fashions because of lack of styles for my size (16/18 and considered obese on any chart since I’m only 5’4). I found patterns for styles I liked but that went left really fast when trying to adjust the cup size on a pattern for a top (most patterns are B cup and I was well past that) or trying to make the pattern come out well for my dip, curves, and swerves. Then I got into making my own patterns. It was no better. I literally cried a few times after wasting paper, time, and fabric because my fashions never came out right or how I thought they would look on me. It was either my arms, the neckline, the back, my waist, practically everything except my head, hands, and feet. It was just horrible! After so many fails, I finally resolved that homemade fashion designing would go so much better if I lost weight.

      It took a while but I am now losing the baggage and fitting into many more smaller cute items than before and one day pretty soon I will be able to fit Zara piece (probably won’t buy though since it’s not all that to me). But even as I lose I still notice that some stores still struggle with making the clothes proportion to fit well. I know plus size women don’t want to hear it, but everyone saying that is is hard for companies to make clothes to fit them are right! The only way some can get away with finding plus size clothes that hang on them well is if their fat sits in all the right places and 9 x out of 10 that is NOT the case!

  9. How are fat people who can’t fit Zara’s clothing in the first place going to effect their sales in a boycott. They already can’t shop there. I know big people need clothes….but they also need to eat clean and hit the gym. Call is fat-shaming if you want. I call it common health sense. The clothes look better on normal sized humans anyway. It’s their art as well as business. A European business as well. What do Spaniards know of 1 out of 3 adults being grossly obese?

  10. Zara is right to maintain their standard. If you’re too fat to fit a particular outfit, you should not be wearing it and all designs cannot conform to big sizes without losing the design itself. We are individuals so why should we all dress alike?
    I’m a tall woman and I would look as ridiculous in petite styles as shorter women would look in most of my clothes.And it’s not just about the overall length but the proportions of the torso, the legs, inseam measurements etc.
    We have to live in our reality.

  11. The biggest challenge with plus size women is their measurements. Or close enough together that it is not possible to develop a pattern for them that has a tapered waistline.

  12. If a store or brand doesnt have your size then dont shop there! Period! Just shop somewhere else that caters to you.

    That was simple!

  13. Zara’s is overpriced for the quality of clothes they sell. Markup galore. The quality has really gone down in recent years.

  14. i i don’t shop at victoria secret’s not because i can’t fit the clothes but they have poor quality it doesn’t stand up to the wash like it should

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