Dear Em. x.,
Thank you for your recent email regarding our Designer Plus department.
I would like to reassure you that Harrods will continue to stock four Plus size brands within our newly refurbished Dress Circle location. These brands have been specifically selected as they are the most popular brands that we sell. We believe that Marina Rinaldi, Basler, Elena Miro and MYBC offer a diverse range to our customers. The decision to relocate the current department was taken to raise the profile of our collections, and to relocate the very best of what we offer in a brand new surrounding.
The Dress Circle is a contemporary space that will showcase the product beautifully in newly created designer boutiques, offering a more luxurious experience to the customer. The collections will sit adjacent to the internationally recognised St John, which runs to a size twenty, and creates a stylish and comfortable space for our customers to shop in.
Please do not hesitate to contact me directly should you have any further queries.
Feels like a press release, huh?
So, effectively - the response is that while they ARE getting rid of the plus-size department and reducing the number of lines - they are keeping four popular brands and creating special designer boutiques... I wonder if the words "Plus-size" will be associated with those brands, or labeled anywhere in the store. No doubt Harrods will argue they are creating a designer experience - something wonderful and exclusive for their customers... and I can see that happening, to a degree... BUT - the things is, there will be a reduction in high-end brands being sold and offered to plus-size women. There will be the removal of the "plus-size" department and signage within the store and let's face it, probably just brands being sold... and it is doubtful those brands will be blazened with the words "Plus-size".
If I am honest about my thoughts, I doubt this is about creating a better customer experience - and more about the store's image. Both the image of being exclusive and designer based, but also catering to a particular type of customer - not someone easily identifiable as plus.
If true, that is so disappointing... after all, during this last year there have been strides made for curvy girls and plus-size fashion. We have featured in Vogue, Elle, Glamour and V. Crystal Renn has worn Chanel, not to mention her and Tara Lynn posing naked!
It will be interesting to see if in five years, or maybe even two - those four brands have not done that well - resulting in a "profit line" excuse for their complete disappearing act at Harrods. I'll visit the new sections when I can in the next few months. I'll let you know how it feels, what it looks like and how obvious it is, if at all, that these are brands for curvier/fatter/plus-size girls and women. Here's hoping I come back sheepish and telling you it's amazing.