Chatting about +Black, a marketing friend passed comment that black is the most difficult colour to photograph, saying that pretty much any other colour will show the shape and detail of the garment better. Good point. We agreed that sketches has to be the way to go and may also helps with size guidelines – conventional sizing across designs yields such huge variation in fit and comfort that I cannot be the only person to measure my favourite items and hope frantically that the online store gives these measurements too. Both of us had noticed an increasing trend for sites to do this – must help minimise returns too.
The other point that came up was how comfortable are we buying online? My friend is a cautious online buyer whereas I prefer it. Of course it wasn’t always that way. I used to love shopping … and shops used to love me! But how that changes when you no longer fit the young, slim, fashion-aware profile that the High Street is geared up for. I, along with a whole load of other plus-size buyers, disabled ones and even middle-aged women I’m sure, have taken to online shopping more easily and quickly than most because for us, ordinary shopping is difficult, frustrating and even horrible because of the way we are treated. I remember, early in my wheelchair life, going in to the Shirin Guild shop that used to be just off the Fulham Road – it’s closed down now – and the shop assistants wouldn’t acknowledge me at all … didn’t look at me, addressed all their comments to my partner and were just plain rude. I was livid! And bewildered. That had never happened to me before … and this from a brand that I had literally spent £’000’s on over the previous few years – insult to injury! Of course, I now get how uncomfortable the young assistants were around disability but, wrapped up in my own problems at the time, I didn’t then. All I would add though is that when I go shopping, I really can’t be hassled with making others feel comfortable around me – I want to shop not be a public service facility on disability!
Now, I, along with many others I imagine, much prefer to shop online – with an ever-expanding choice, yay – and try things at home. it’s a preference that tends to be way stronger than the desire for seeing/touching when your shopping experiences are so damn ghastly whatever the reason.
In the plus-size market, there are a number of examples of businesses that used to operate on a small basis booming as their online presence takes off. One such is Box2 who started as a small plus size boutique selling European plus fashion for size 18-22, went online, boomed and expanded into sizes 14-34 because the demand was so huge. Other plus-size retailers have closed physical retail premises to trade exclusively online, including Sixteen47 and Daphne’s Larger Sizes. Mainstream retailers routinely go up to size 20-28 – albeit in limited styles – because all the statistics show that plus sizes numbers are increasing and they buy online more than in-store. I’m pretty sure that the same applies to the disabled market even though there are no statistics that spell this out though the explosion in selling disability aids and equipment supports my theory. For anyone under the age of 50 (yes, I know, and many over 50 too), the web is the go-to place for finding things and buying them and, as this current generation ages, online buying looks set to consign High Street shopping, as we now see it, to being part of our history.
Sounds good to me. +Black will be all about giving and receiving a great online experience. Any other views out there?