American Apparel Pisses Off Plus-Sized Women When It Should Sell Them Clothes Instead

Last Updated May 27, 2010 9:05 AM EDT

As if teetering on the edge of insolvency and threats of being delisted from its stock exchange weren't enough, American Apparel (APP) has really stepped in it now: They've pissed off plus-sized women.

For background, American Apparel has manufactures a whole plus-sized clothing line for another company -- Colossal Clothing -- but it's only for men. The company also sells makes some 2X and 3X sizes for women, but only in a very limited range of garments. Much of the womens' clothing comes in just two choices: XS/S and M/L.

Which caused Los Angeles-based plus-sized model and porn actress April Flores to ask an American Apparel store sales staffer earlier this week if the chain had considered making more plus-sized garments. "That's not our demographic" was the sneering response (link NSFW), Flores wrote in her blog.

If there's no fury like a woman scorned, even more so for a large woman scorned. Flores' blog about the exchange ignited the blogosphere. "Fat people wear and buy clothes!" Flores noted.

Really, she has a point American Apparel should listen to because there are a lot of plus-sized people out there, and many of them are teens. Up to one-third of American teenagers are obese.

So here are two problems American Apparel could solve at one blow -- its financial woes and the backlash from big women. The company could get out of its denial -- its Web site FAQs page says it doesn't have any tall or plus sizes -- and make more of its garments in the sizes more American teens can wear. This would give Torrid a run for its money, and give overweight teens and young adults a new, hip place to get their clothes.

The additional sales would drive more volume for American Apparel, which saw sales at existing stores fall 10 percent in the first quarter. That in turn would make its whole model work better and help it return to profits and pay off its growing pile of debt. The company doesn't have to start featuring models of Flores' girth in their ads -- though she's certainly porny enough to qualify, we know they won't anyway. They don't have to change their thin-hipster market positioning. Just start making and selling more big-size clothing. Word will spread like wildfire amongst chubby teens. Could help American Apparel kick off a plus-sized turnaround.

Photo via Flickr user Apoorva Guptay Related:

  • Carol Tice

    Carol Tice is a longtime business reporter whose work has appeared in Entrepreneur, The Seattle Times, and Nation's Restaurant News, among others. Online sites she's written for include Allbusiness.com and Yahoo!Hotjobs. She blogs about the business of writing at Make a Living Writing.