Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Saks Thinking Small

Note from Steve: Check out Amy's reaction to this story at Some Small Sense.

Fashion retailer said it will reestablish its petite women's department


Saks Fifth Avenue (New York), stung by the reaction of short women across the country, has said it will reestablish its petite women's clothing department, which the company had quietly dropped several months ago because of poor sales.

According to The New York Times, the decision -- a victory for millions of women shorter than 5-foot-4 -- came after Saks received scores of letters from smaller shoppers who complained that they could no longer find clothing that fit and that they felt alienated in a store that had dressed them for decades.

Beginning this fall, the company said, it would once again carry petite sizes from popular labels like Dana Buchman, Eileen Fisher and Lafayette 148.

Ellen Tracy, which ceased producing petite sizes after Saks eliminated its department, said yesterday that it would now re-enter the business for spring 2007.

Saks said that petite sizes would be carried in 32 of its 55 stores in November and that it would hold trunk shows around the country in October to welcome the petite clients back.

Andrew Jennings, president of Saks, said that the retailer "had heard loud and clear the expression of concern from shoppers" about the elimination of the petite department. Saks scrapped petite sizes, which generated $35 million a year, in January because it found that many shoppers preferred to buy clothes in the misses department - which is larger and offers a wider variety of fashions - and have garments tailored to fit their smaller proportions.

This time around, the retailer will try to inject more energy in petite clothes, emphasizing sportswear, knitwear and day dresses, rather than focusing heavily on classic-looking suits for work.

The decision further reflects the strategy of new ceo Stephen Sadove to recapture the business he felt the retailer lost under the leadership of Fred Wilson. Earlier this month, Saks announced it would revive the once-profitable, more conservative private label fashion merchandise Wilson got rid of. Critics said Wilson alienated older - and in this case, smaller - customers with his emphasis on skin-baring urban fashions.


  1. There won't be full equality until the petite section carries the exact same offering as the rest of the store. Just because I'm not "average" doesn't mean my clothing selection should be limited.

    I just purchased a suit at Ann Taylor the other day (0P jacket, 2P pants) and they only had TWO suits available for little people. Those jerks! All the cute suits were way huge!

    Being little sucks sometimes...

  2. Being big sucks too. Even though I have a lot of clothes, finding the right fit for the tall and somewhat lean has proven to be a challenge. There is almost nothing in Saks that fits me right.

  3. My boyfriend is 6 feet tall and has a 30 inch waist...nothing fits him either.

    When are all the major retailers out there going to realize that there is no uniform shape and size?? We are all different!!

    Plus, the media totally pushes being stick-figure thin on the women of today. And then you starve yourself and kill yourself at the gym to achieve the media's image of what a girl should look like, hit the stores for some hot clothing, and none of it fits right! It just doesn't make any sense!

  4. Accomodating a wide variety of bodies is a challenge in ready-to-wear. There are the obvious body shapes that need to be marketed to, but many of those bodies aren't considered fashionable or "young" and, as such, get short shrift when it comes to people willing to design for them, financiers willing to fund those who will design thew clothes, and a paucity of retailers that will acknowlege that these markets exist and stock the lines.

    I participate in several fashion-related message boards, and the complaints are heard loud and clear everywhere you look. What we need is somebody in the fashion industry smart enough to listen to and see what's obviously there and do something about it.