It would appear that the demands made by BBW consumers are not limited to just complaining about apparel manufacturers, the debate rages in -of all places- the knitting community as well. Along the lines of the controversy generated by my post Tyranny of tiny sizes comes this debate on 37 Signals:
Over the past couple of days, I have been following a thread about sizing in knitting patterns. Apparently, plus-sized knitters feel that some knitting magazines are “ignoring” them by not providing instructions for making the items in larger sizes. One woman posts:
Well, then I bet you can see my problem with rack after rack of magazines that do not even admit to my size. I did not advocate for IK [Interweave Knits], Vogue, or any of the others to go over to utter plus sizes. I just ask that they size for us too. it won’t stop single-digit sizing, just add us.
Apparently, two magazines equals “rack after rack,” despite the fact that other posters have mentioned alternative magazines that do cater to larger sizes. She also ignores the fact that the magazines she mentioned do provide plus sizes for many of their patterns-just not all.
The story goes on from there so read Knitting complaints. In comments, Brad summarizes how I feel about the fine line that is drawn between being responsive to your customers and being forced to implement their every suggestion:
It’s amazing how many times customers make the assumption that inaction to a request or a suggestion equals ignorance to a issue. Or worse yet, a paying customer is always right. The customer is always right to comment, always right to suggest, always right to make a request. But if their loyalty is dictated by the positive and immediate reaction of the company; well, you can have that customer. McDonald’s says that the customer is always right; but this refers to a complaint about a received product or service…Never do they say that the customer is always right when some ‘paying’ patron requests a taco instead of a cheeseburger.
Still, if I’m not selling something you want, you’re not a customer. When it comes to sizing, you will never be able to please everyone so listen to people who are already buying from you, not those who say they would. Often there’s a product in the market already, they just don’t want to pay the price points. In other words, they want what you make already but in their size and at a price they’re willing to pay.
Considering the incredible investment and costs of developing another line be it BBW or something else entirely, that’s too much to demand of a manufacturer. It’s not possible to “grade in” the sizes for BBW into a regular line, the differences are too disparate and you have to make new patterns altogether. You have to develop another line. Some changes are so dramatic you can’t just grade those things in. BBW is one of those things that can’t be done with just a bigger grade. It’s a tough market to fit because as people get heavier, the differences between people’s bodies are all over the map. People’s bodies differ; in smaller sizes, it’s easier to deal with. In larger sizes, the differences are dramatically magnified.