T-Bags, Salon Z Studded Split-Sleeve Dress $230 at Saks Fifth Avenue
This feature is generously brought to you by guest blogger Sarah Conley, editor of Style It.
To preface this post, I would like to begin by saying that I have strong feelings about this news. On the one hand, I dream of wearing McQueen and Chanel, and on the other hand, I’ve been left feeling like I am the latest charity case in a company’s quest for publicity.
A week ago, Racked NY ran the news that Saks Fifth Avenue will be stocking plus size pieces from Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Fendi and Roberto Cavalli. On the surface, this news sounds wonderful and seems to be a giant step forward for fashionable women everywhere.
Kudos to Saks, whose extended sizes collection, called Salon Z, encompasses sizes 14 to 24 and offers a few fashion forward pieces. The entire collection isn’t perfect (when is an entire collection perfect), but it is likely that you’ll find something worthy of taking home.
Digging deeper into the news reveals that while these brands have previously been carried through a size 10, they will now be stocked fully to a size 14 and even to a size 20 on a brand-by-brand basis. Unfortunately (though not uncommon), only one of each size will be stocked and only in the New York City location. If the test venture is successful, other Saks locations could be carrying the expanded line.
How successful will this venture be? A designer size 14 is hardly plus size. A designer size 20 is an admirable step, but how well will these pieces actually sell? If you’re putting the cash towards an investment piece, it’s wise to buy a piece that fits well – but have the brands put in the appropriate effort towards the new extended range?
The secret to a successful plus size line (outside of the conceptual designs) are the fit models. Remember when Old Navy first launched their plus size line in stores? It was okay, but it didn’t fit that well. The line was pulled from stores and disappeared for a while, but when it resurfaced as online only merchandise, the product was new and improved, due to the brand’s realization that patterns for a size 24 could be adapted from a size 2 – the two bodies simply aren’t built the same.
The skeptical industry side of my brain questions why houses such as Dolce & Gabanna and Chanel want to move forward in this way. True, both houses have made admirable strides to embrace the plus size community, both via model Crystal Renn (these days, who isn’t in love with her?). Is Chanel, including former heavyweight Karl Lagerfeld, really committed to servicing the plus size consumer, or is this similar to when a brand “donates” money to charity and reaps the benefits of all the surrounding press from their “good deed”, all the while there is a $5,000 cap on donations?
I guess the real question is, will you invest in these new pieces? How does this issue make you feel?