Well known brand and high street fashion store River Island recently sent ripples of excitement through the plus size fashion blogging world and fashion world alike by announcing their intention to follow in the footstops of fellow high street store Dorothy Perkins and offer a plus size range to their consumers. It’s important to note that this isn’t a range designed exclusively for plus size babes, River Island are ultimately expanding the sizes they stock up to a size 24 for a number of items in their core collection. The The River Island Plus Size range (RI Plus) collection starting with 75 pieces and includes everything from River Island staples such as the Molly skinny jeans and denim, black leather jackets through to key pieces inspired by the SS16 catwalks such as stripes and floral pieces.
To extend the sizing on the existing offerings is much more inclusive rather than segregating a range. A lot of people have expressed the opinion that all plus size shoppers want is to be able to walk into a shop and pick up the same item as your size 8 friend… but in a size 22.
Some aren’t happy that the announcement of the new sizing alienates anybody size 24+ – shouldn’t an inclusive range be exactly that, inclusive? Size 24 isn’t where plus size and adding 3 sizes to the existing range isn’t exactly ground breaking some may say, but for a brand who have only sized up to a size 18 previously, it’s a case of what my old boss would say “suck it and see.”
A utopian launch would be to size up to where the demand is, to the ladies which size past the 24 which is currently catered for by the ever expanding online plus size brands such as Lady Volup, Simply Be and so on.
And as much as cries of “but what about us?” can rightly so be heard from a group of plus sized beauties whose size is so often neglected by high street brands branching into plus size clothing, it may not be as straight forward as it seems to “just add a few sizes bigger”.
When it comes to business and fashion as separate entities, its almost unfathomable the amount of pre planning that goes into campaigns, business strategies and seasonal collections. A prime example is that when we’re just about to eye up the spring wear of 2016, the autumn winter designs are pretty much signed and sealed ready for delivery in early spring. How many bloggers have already received PR emails about Christmas releases? I have.
As much as it seems like no big deal to us, adding those three sizes to the existing range would have been in the pipeline for about a year (I’d like to think it’s off the back of the light that plus size bloggers and models have shone on the plus size clothing industry). It would have needed a business case which will have sat on the desks of heads of different departments with full justification awaiting full sign off.
Why do we need a River Island Plus Size Range? When do we need it? How much will it cost us? Is it justified? Can we make a return on it? Will it sell? Will it be successful? We should trial it in the flagship stores to see if there’s a demand for the pieces as it may be counter productive to remove straight size lines which are proven to sell in favour of a range which we’re not sure will sell?
Just a few of the questions to be asked by the person holding the purse strings as a wide eyed and enthusiast advocate of clothing to be inclusive of all sizes is batting back retorts in favour of this new launch. Because as much as fashion is beautiful and we all deserve to look sassy in our skinny jeans and geo print blouses, and as an intention, yes, one would say that all stores should stick up to a 30+, the development, production and cash injection will need to be seen as justifiable.
Following the initial launch of the range on the 9th March (which I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak peek of) and providing feedback and sales go well, it’s then likely that the same business case will be put forward for an extension of the sizing and lines, and inclusion of the range in more stores country wide.
I for one am full of hope that the release of RI Plus from such a well known fashion store will pave the way for its high street counterparts to follow suit.
You can now shop the River Island Plus Size range ONLINE – and for an extra treat I’ve managed to find a code to bag you 20% off when you spend £50 – simply enter the code Stylew316 when checking out for some discount goodness! Happy shopping :)