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Is H&M Not Selling Plus-Size Clothes in Its Stores Anymore?

Despite the fact that the plus-size fashion market is thriving and more people are buying plus-size than ever, H&M stopped selling plus-size inventory in its 11 New York City stores a few months ago, according to Revelist. The company did not make an announcement at the time of its decision, but when confronted by shoppers from Revelist, store clerks admitted that their shops had stopped carrying plus sizes, which can now be purchased online only.

Revelist went further, though, contacting H&M’s customer service line to inquire about the low-key decision. That’s when it learned that not a single store in Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Queens stocks plus sizes anymore. The reason? H&M’s expansion into home goods, beauty, and sportswear has apparently forced the brand to reallocate its floor space, according to a spokesperson who finally offered an official statement. The statement read:

“H&M’s product range has grown in the past few years, with e.g. an extended sports offering, a new beauty assortment and our interior concept H&M Home. This means not all stores have room for all our fashion concepts. The assortment in the stores is evolving as we continuously assess the product mix, which is decided by each store’s specific pre-requisites when it comes to e.g. its size and the customers’ requests. We refer customers to our online store hm.com, which includes all our fashion concepts, and a broader assortment.”

Revelist points out earlier mixed messaging, though, on the part of H&M. Back in March, the debut of the H&M Studio fall 2016 campaign and runway show was fronted by plus-size model and body-positivity beauty Ashley Graham. At the time, H&M’s creative adviser, Ann-Sophie Johansson, told Elle, “It felt natural for us to have a diverse casting since it reflects our values, our colleagues, and our customers.” The line itself would be offered in both straight and plus sizes, and the company was praised for its inclusivity. As Revelist pointed out, “The images marked the first time that a plus-size model fronted an H&M campaign that wasn’t promoting body positivity and plus sizes alone.”

But last month, Racked shone a spotlight on the campaign’s fine print: The plus sizes in the studio collection “will be sold exclusively on hm.com.” It’s enough of a challenge for plus-size women to find chic clothing in real life; now one of the companies pioneering in-store inclusivity is seemingly backtracking, flushing all its progress down the drain.

Recently, Project Runway star Tim Gunn slammed the entire fashion industry for its “baffling” exclusion of plus-size women, calling it “a disgrace” in an essay he wrote for theWashington Post. “I mean, there are 100 million women in this country who are larger than a size 12,” Gunn wrote. “If I were a retailer, gee, I would certainly like to help corner that market.” One of Gunn’s most famous protégés, designer Christian Siriano, is a fierce advocate for plus-size fashion, famously dressing Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones when no other designer would, and launching a plus-size line for Lane Bryant.

According to a recent Huffington Post article, chic plus-size clothing is not only notoriously hard to find, but when it is found, options are limited and “designers consistently offer poor designs at high prices.” The site polled its Facebook community to uncover consumers’ most common gripes when it comes to finding fashion in double-digit sizes.

Among those complaints: “Lack of ‘basic’ clothing. Basic T-shirts in a decent, soft cotton are so hard to come by. They’re either tent-sized or made out of awful materials,” said one user. “There is a serious lack of cute fitness wear,” wrote another, a reference to aproblem we identified recently.

Another user put her finger on the problem caused by H&M dropping its plus-size inventory from brick-and-mortar stores. “I think that stores who offer plus-sizes online should also have those options in the store, so people can try clothes on rather than take a chance ordering online, paying shipping and then having to return what doesn’t fit,” she said. “People shouldn’t be shamed out of the stores and only have online options.”

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