Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fleshing Out

Intrigued by my "ha!" in the previous post? Well. Here we go.

Warning: This is a rant post.

My absolute peeve when online shopping: Scrawny, stick thin, bony models. The frickin' plastic mannequin has more curves than the human mannequin.

What's the point of a model? To show how the outfit will drape on a human body with soft flesh curving in all the womanly areas. I'm not talking bloddy garzongas like Ice-T's wife Coco or Katie Price. I'm talking God-given curves. This is online shopping. Not a runway in Milan, Paris, New York, or even Melbourne. If your customer doesn't know how the dress/top/pants/skirt/jacket will look like over curves, even with PTP measurements that are exact and unchanging, you are going to have not-so-satisfied or downright unhappy customers. (Unless all your customers are stick figures like your model.) Which means you will be extra busy fielding returns/exchange requests.

If you think that all Asians are naturally thin and have no curves to speak about, so it's ok to have teeny tiny humans display your clothes, I say to you: wake up and really look around. And if you think that draping your clothes on a human hanger is good for business, then why not just drape it on a sturdy good quality coat hanger? The broadness of a strong wooden coat hanger is probably about the same as the width of your human one. It's disturbing when a dress looks stunning on the human model but ugly on the mannequin. How is the customer supposed to decide if the outfit will look good on her or not?

Mind you, this is only an example. There are countless other instances of this happening. This is NOT to say that all stick thin models always make an outfit look good.


Same dress. Both models equally stick thin. Lighting and styling made a world of difference. But to me, you can't escape the fact that the outfit would look better on someone with meat on their bones and more discernible curves. I mean, the big fashion houses are slowly moving away from underweight models. Why do online shops persist in believing that thin will show off clothes to their best advantage?

Okok. I know designers still create clothes for borderline anorexic people to parade on the catwalk. But at the end of the day, with those designers, you can walk into a physical shop and try on the outfit before forking out $$$. And chances are, if one can afford the ridiculous prices, one can afford to eat organic food and go for slimming wraps (not that I think slimming spas work).

With online shops, they usually allow exchange for sizes, some allow returns for store credits, but I don't think any online retailer operates like a bricks and mortar shop and allow full refunds. So if you want to keep your customers completely happy, shouldn't you do whatever you can to make the decision process less fraught with uncertainty?

Providing accurate PTP measurements is just one part of it. A huge step forward compared to past practices, but still just one part. You must recognise that, otherwise you would just have plastic mannequins as models for your clothes. Since you are aware that customers want to see the garments on a real human, why would you pick the model who best resembles a coat hanger to showcase your collections? This is not haute coutre. This is casual or work wear. Women of all shapes and sizes are gonna be wearing these articles of clothing. Your customers shop online because it's a hassle shop-hopping for suitable clothes that are reasonably priced. Subconsciously attacking their self-esteem and subtly making the shopping process more brain-draining is not a good way to keep them coming back. Most women do NOT have measurements of 32-24-34.

And another thing. Why the fricking hell do some sites think that a skirt that only reaches 1/3 to 1/2 way down the thigh is acceptable for corporate/executive workplaces? My question is: what industry are you targetting? Or better yet, who is your targetted clientele? PR Executives? It's fine if you label the outfit as suitable for parties or cocktail functions. But the fact that you market your clothes to "executives" makes me wonder what's gone wrong. Just because the dress is of very good quality material doesn't mean it's automatically suitable for corporate environments.
Just in case my dear reader is thinking: but she's tall! of course the dress would be short on her. According to the site, the model is wearing a size S which is 77.5cm long. Size L is just 85cm long. Which will be a little short even for my vertically-challenged ass. AND the name of the dress is? The Corporate Dress. WHO the f*** wears this to a corporate work environment?! Throw on a sharp black blazer, and it's STILL inappropriate work attire. Did I miss something in the latest handbook on dressing for success? Oh wait. Does "success" mean something different now?

In spite of the propagation of "thin is ideal", I still love online shopping. But only at sites that carry clothes in normal sizes. Marilyn Monroe would have to wear XXL based on the sizing of some these websites.

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