Should Lingerie Companies Charge the Same Price For Standard and Plus Sizes?
A few weeks ago we talked about the term plus sizes and whether it was useful to the current lingerie climate or not. Today I’m going to talk about a related issue that comes up a lot when plus sizes are discussed: pricing. Specifically, we’re going to tackle the great debate surrounding whether plus size lingerie should be priced the same as standard size lingerie. I’ll start with my honest opinion: I don’t have an issue with plus size lingerie being more expensive than lingerie in smaller size. Honestly, I think if everyone understood the way retail pricing really works, we wouldn’t be having this debate at all.
Today I’m going to break a complicated emotional and retail issue down into three smaller discussions that I hope will help illuminate this issue.
1. When most retail companies price a standard size item and a plus size item at the same value, that value normally is set at what the plus size item costs.
In reality, smaller sizes do come in at a lower wholesale cost. This makes sense: they use less fabric, take less development and sometimes need less tailoring than plus sizes do. When you pay the same price at an online retailer, you’re generally paying the price for the plus size item. Yes, this makes the pricing “equal,” but in this case equal is far from fair.
2. If we start pushing “equal” pricing, retailers will just start skimping on fabric and construction on plus sizes pieces.
If you want to see this at work, look at any Walmart or Target. Cute stuff that is reasonably decent in the standard size clothing departments and a swath of ugly that is hidden away in the plus size departments. Access to great plus size lingerie and clothing is enough of a battle currently --- if customers attempt to force down pricing any lower, our options will be even worse.
Ever noticed how cheaper plus size lingerie is really plain and disposable? The stuff that costs extra is what will go first: soft fabrics, pretty patterns, extra support and underwires that actually fit. I don’t want to live in that world and I suspect you don’t either.
3. Developing larger sizes takes time and serious funding.
Developing lingerie in larger sizes takes more time and effort than it does in smaller sizes. Bodies become less standard in plus sizes and cup size design becomes much more of an effort beyond a G cup or so. This is why so many lingerie lines stick with D through G sizing - it’s cheaper and easier to develop. I’m happy to pay more for bras that are fashion forward and well made.
The reality is pretty simple: a larger piece of lingerie takes more material, time, and frequently more development than a smaller size. Quality fabrics are expensive, as are all of the parts of well made piece of lingerie. Instead of comparing pricing, I'd love to see customers embracing more speciality designers. It's unrealistic to expect one brand to do everything in terms of sizing (especially without changing price points), so to me it makes sense to support brands that are experts in your size and shape.