Friday, 23 January 2015

Geek - An Open Letter of Sadness to Hot Topic

Dear Hot Topic,

A couple of days ago, @DCComics retweeted a link to a new line of clothing you've started selling.  Now, before I go further, I'd like you to know a little bit about me.  I will always admit my love of Harley Quinn from the Batman franchise.  I've loved her since watching the cartoon growing up.  I'm not a crazy super fan, but I have my fair share of Harley Quinn related goodies.  For example, in my living room is a framed Harley Quinn portrait signed by the artist.  It compliments the red wall.  My two favourite colours are red and black.  That leans me more towards the Harley Quinn style of clothing, merchandise, etc.  Maybe it's cause and effect.  Anyway,  @DCComics tweeted this link.  Knowing my love of black and red clothing, combined with an affinity for the clown princess, I figured I'd have a nose at your new range.  Some of it is typical to Hot Topic, it's either a little bit tacky or is for cosplay.  Fine, that's what you do and I love that you're proud of that.  What caught my eye, was the new cardigan.  That is a cardigan I could see in my wardrobe and being worn regularly with my collection of black dresses and skirts.   That cardigan is a subtle way I can express my geek.

Image from Hot Topic's site here
I'm 70% sure I could get away with wearing it at work.  90% sure on a Friday, so after seeing it, I went about my usual process of figuring out if it's possible for me to wear it.  I'm not a small girl and just like everyone else, the right size is important to not end up looking like a pleb when I'm wearing something new.  The sizing is US, so out came the converter tables to figure out what your sizes mean.  You go up to 3XL, I'm hopeful.  But you're sizing everything junior... In UK terms this means you, Hot Topic, think a 3XL is a size 16.

Let's take a moment to let that sink in.  I think you may have slightly lost the plot.

I don't want this to be a rant.  I'm not really upset I won't be buying this cardigan, but I was very willing to give you my money and also see what else you have to offer.  But sadly, I won't be.  I'm annoyed at your implication that a Large is a size 10.  Shoving the phrase "listed in Junior sizes" should never be a get out clause for the size Large and a UK size 10 being the same thing.  Size 10 ladies are not large.  I'm large and I would struggle to get anything but my waist in your size 3XL.

Hot Topic, I know your customers are mostly teenagers and I'm 30 and have had a child.  But no one, especially teenagers, should be buying something that's actually small that's got a label telling them it's Large.  It's not.  That can give people complexes.  

Now I'm going to put my merchandising hat on.  You've created a range of clothing about one of DC's most loved female characters.  Have you looked at who loves Harley Quinn rather than just who loves Hot Topic?  Try a simple Google search and you'll find women dressed as Harley with figures that rival the lady herself.  You'll also find as many who would need to be wearing a 5 or 6XL size or larger according to your charts.  Presumably, you want to make money and presumably, you want new customers to shop your ranges.  By all means range down to a UK 4.  Please don't stop doing that.  Smaller ladies should have clothing they love.  So should larger ladies.  But at the moment, based on the UK average woman being a size 14-16 and the US woman being an 18 (UK size) you've managed to create a range that almost completely doesn't stock for half of your potential market.  If I'd made the same decisions, I'd have been told to go away and re-do my range.  If I'd done it again, I'd have lost my job.  I understand that larger clothes mean a higher cost to you, they take more fabric and you have to fit on more than one size to ensure consistency.  But I'm sure, as a clothing retailer, you're aware of ways you can work around that.  Most companies do.  Often, the cost is spread across all of the sizes to even it out.  Sure, that's not so fair on people buying the small sizes, so you always have the option to charge for the extra fabric girls like me require to stay decent.  That's not unusual.  Your prices are good, so people would still be willing to pay the few dollars extra.  I'd certainly have done.  It could have been a treat to myself.  It could have been a birthday present from my husband later in the year.  

Understand, I'm not a large girl crusader.  I'm a large girl who would like to see a piece of clothing and be confident that the company who created it has worked out that it's not the 1950s and US and European women have got bigger, whether you like it or not.  Bigger doesn't mean desiring to wear tents or floral patterns.  Bigger just means clothing needs to be larger to accommodate the jiggly bits.  That's not so hard, is it?

Unless of course, you sit alongside Abercrombie with who you think should have the right to wear your clothing...? You don't, do you?  That, Hot Topic, would be a very sad, sad thing.  And you wouldn't want customers to think you're like Abercrombie, would you? Per se.

That's all from me, I'm off to put on my well fitted Harley Quinn hoodie and find a fake moustache.
Toodles, puddin!

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