Editor’s note: This article is part of a larger series on Target’s company policies and behaviors. It’s important for all consumers to know exactly what kind of company they’re supporting with their money, but that means telling the full story—the good and the bad. Read more about Target here.
For a long time, plus-size fashion has been anything but fashionable. The clothes may fit, but they’re lacking the personality, the diversity, the fun of regular fashion.
Target is the latest retailer to announce a plus-size shopping line with pieces that won’t draw any complaints for being dowdy or boring. It’s called AVA & VIV and is “designed specifically for the Plus-size woman who loves fashion and appreciates a good value.”
There’s a lot of plus-size women in this category. Plus-size shoppers represent 37% of all consumers in the nation, and they care about what they wear. It’s taken brands way too long to realize this.
“When I’m working in the real world with real women and we’re shopping, we find that fashion seems to end when you get any larger than a size 12.”
“… All you can find is beige. They want you to blend in with the walls.”
I didn’t see any beige in AVA & VIV’s lookbook. There were bold black-and-white stripes, chic distressed jeans, floral wide-leg pants, chambray shirt-dresses, bright coral tops, and more. As I scrolled through the looks, I was hit with déjà vu. Then I realized: It felt exactly like scrolling through the lookbook of a regular-size line.
It seems like that’s what Target is going for. AVA & VIV ranges in price from about $10 to $79.99, putting it solidly in line with many of its other clothing brands, like Mossimo and Merona. (That’s rarer than you’d think—a couple months ago, Old Navy was criticized for charging $12 to $15 more for the plus-size versions of its clothes.)
I’m also impressed Target designed this line with the help of three extremely fashionable plus-size bloggers: Nicolette Mason, Chastity Garner, and Gabi Gregg.
In August 2014, Garner actually blogged about breaking up with Target, writing:
“All I want is the clothing you offer all your other regular sized customers, but you always leave me out.”
Target obviously took this to heart.
In addition, while other stores have also offered plus-size lines that cater to fashionable women, Target is one of the first to exclude a plus-size designation from the name. For example, Forever 21’s plus-size line is called 21+. ASOS has a section called ASOS CURVE. Modcloth has a “Plus Boutique.” H&M labels its clothes H&M+. Wet Seal offers Wet Seal+.
Petite sections don’t come with minus signs—can you imagine the uproar if H&M introduced “H&M–“? It’s awesome Target isn’t over-emphasizing AVA & VIV is for a “different” customer. It’s not as though these are cute pieces that happen to be in larger sizes, because they do cater to plus-size needs. Without making a big deal about the name, Target has changed a common practice.
As Ellie Krupnick, Mic’s lifestyle editor, points out, it’s also laudable the clothes will be available in-stores rather than solely online.
“Many retailers, like Old Navy and J. Crew, don’t always bother stocking their biggest sizes in stores, forcing shoppers seeking larger sizes to order online. This isn’t only demoralizing for some shoppers, who literally don’t see themselves represented in store windows. It’s also a practical obstacle, as finding clothes that look and fit great when worn is so much harder online.”
Target doesn’t have the best track record in plus-size fashion. A dress labeled as “Dark Heather Gray” in regular sizes was labeled “Manatee Gray” in plus sizes. According to a spokesperson for the company, the dresses were labeled by two different teams who didn’t consult each other, and the labeling could easily have been switched around.
A year ago, Target used a pregnant model to wear a plus-size dress on its website, which unsurprisingly offended many shoppers. The retailer explained the mistake was due to “a garment at a photo shoot being mislabeled.”
With AVA & VIV, it seems like Target has finally gotten it right. As Mason said in one of the videos on Target’s site:
“I think the girl who will wear [the collection] is a girl who wants to be seen, and she wants to be noticed and have fun with her clothes.”
That doesn’t sound like a “plus-size” girl to me—that just sounds like a girl.
Aja Frost is a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a regular contributor to Her Campus, The Prospect, and her college newspaper. Her work has been featured on xoJane and The Huffington Post. The only thing she loves more than writing is dessert. Follow her on Twitter: @ajavuu.