There’s been a ongoing discourse over the past couple of decades revolving around how, or if, clothing designers and retailers — the fashion industry as a whole, actually — play a part in manufacturing a specific body image for individuals to aspire to. You’ve heard the arguments before, ranging from how the airbrushed supermodels on the covers of tabloid magazines set unrealistic expectations for girls, to how body-shaming and fat-shaming practices have seeped so deeply into the public psyche that a strong and unified blowback has begun on behalf of the consuming public.
Well, one clothing retailer may have just fired the latest shot in the battle — whether it meant to or not.
J. Crew (NYSE:JCG), an American-based specialty clothing brand, recently made some serious waves in the industry by deciding to release clothes that offer a pretty snug fit, in sizes that are less than XXS. That’s extra-extra small. Clothing will now be available in XXXS, or a size of 000. This has many people in a tizzy, while the company has said through a spokesperson that they are simply catering to customer demand, according to CNBC.
“We are simply addressing the demand coming from Asia for smaller sizes than what we had carried. Our sizes typically run big and the Asia market tends to run small,” a spokesperson said. “To further put into perspective, these sizes add up to the smallest possible percentage of our overall sizing assortment.”
It was then added that the company tries to incorporate customers of all shapes and sizes, and that the newest addition to the size chart is simply a part of that strategy. “Also to note, J.Crew’s sizes run across the board to try and accommodate as many customers as possible … We run up to size 16, we carry petites and talls, and our shoe sizes run from 5-12. It’s all based on customer demand.”
Is J. Crew actually catering to customer demand, or making a statement by offering sizes so small? Whatever the reasoning, the company has reopened a dialogue about retailers’ role in shaping its customers’ body image.