Spring Fashion Week Day 8: LYCRA to Plus Size Women: Don’t Wear Our Products?

Click Here to Send an Email to LYCRA’s Parent Company, KOCH Industries.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a great pair of jeans with a bit of LYCRA stretch in them.  I was excited to see that LYCRA was one of the sponsors of fashion week and even more excited to find out that they were there introducing a new version of LYCRA with XFIT technology (a form of technology that stretches in all directions).

So imagine by surprise at the humiliating treatment I received at the LYCRA Denim Lounge. Now, I’m not the first, nor will I be the last person to be treated like s**t at NY’s fashion week, but to be ignored when trying to ask serious questions about the technology (ie: when will it be available at mass market stores , the pricing info, etc) and insulted when trying to actually learn about their product.. well that’s too much.

The purpose of this blog isn’t for me to gripe about my problems with the fashion world- but to give you tips on how to be the BEST you, you can be regardless of your income, age, or clothing size. However, as I dive more and more into the world of fashion, celebrity, entertainment, etc the more I realize that many of these designers don’t want 99% of the women in America to wear their clothes, yet they put out line after line at places like Target,  because these mass market lines fund their higher end lines.  Why should you spend your hard earn dollars on these designers (whether it’s their ready-to-wear or mass market lines)?  Furthermore, from Karl Lagerfeld, a former fatty himself, stating that he “doesn’t want fat people wearing his clothes” to Anna Wintour’s disgust of anyone who has to wear a pair of spanx,  the fashion world has a real serious fear of “fat people”. And “fat”, in the fashion world, means anyone over a size 12. Why do they have such a hard time grasping this concept, especially when several of the top fashion editors and even one of the organizers of fashion week herself, aren’t exactly the thinnest people in the world?

Target.com

Now I don’t believe that Invista and KOCH, the parent companies of the LYCRA, are “anti-plus size”, I mean 90% of the products in Lane Bryant have some sort of LYCRA content in them, but I do believe that whoever ran their denim lounge that day has a serious problem with anyone with a little more junk in their trunk. I encourage you all to send an email to Invista and KOCH companies (LYCRA’s parent company), letting them know that women of ALL sizes enjoy LYCRA products and we won’t take this type of treatment.

Here’s the contact info:
Katie Stavinoha- katie.stavinoha@kochind.com
Melissa Cohlmia- melissa.cohlmia@kochind.com
Holly Watson- Holiday.Watson@invista.com

Here’s the letter I sent:

My name is Kathryn Finney and I’m an bestselling author, popular
fashion blogger, freelance fashion editor and television style
contributor to shows such as TODAY, CNN Headline news, and FOX News.
My site received well over 50,000 unique visitors a week.  I’m
writing you both as consumer and as a fashion industry professional to
alert you to the rude and humiliating treatment I received during my
visit to the LYRCA Denim Lounge during New York’s Spring 2007 fashion
week.

I’ve been attending fashion week for the past 4 years and I was very
excited to see that LYCRA was one of the sponsors of the Spring 2007
shows. I was very interested in the new XFIT LYRCA technology and
particularly interested in how and when it would be translated to some
of the mass market denim brands.

The negative treatment I received by one staff member in particular,
an older women with brown hair wearing a purplish color sweater who
working the Lounge on Wednesday, September 13th in the afternoon, was
so horrific that I had to write this letter. During the course of my
time in the Lounge,  I tried to ask her questions about the technology
and she either ignored me, walked away, or appeared agitated when I
asked real questions about the technology. I asked to see a pair of
the jeans and was then told me that I had to “present a business card”
in order to receive a pair of jeans (which was a lie as I had just
spoke to a friend who is an editor at magazine and who happens to be
white and thin and they gave her 3 pairs without even asking her name)
and even after I gave her a card,  she didn’t think I “needed them”.
This staff member then one step further by asking me “who was going to
wear the jeans” referring to the fact that I do not wear a size 30 (I
had planned on giving the jeans away on my blog in a post describing
the power of the new technology).  This comment was not only
insulting, but humiliated me in front of several of my fashion
colleagues. Apparently, I wasn’t alone in my negative experience, as
other editors and bloggers, also experienced insulting and hurtful
comments regarding their size and ability to wear the jeans. This
comments have nothing to do with our ability to write about the new
technology or about fashion in general.

I know and support the LYCRA brand, even writing about the power of
LYCRA in my bestselling book, How to Be a Budget Fashionista and
promoting the brand during my numerous television appearances. I know,
as a Midwesterner with ties to Kansas, that Invista and the Koch
company are companies of inclusion, rather than exclusion. However, I
can not, in good conscious continue my support of a brand that treats
its fans this way.

I will be writing about my negative experiences at the LYRCA Denim
Lounge on www.thebudgetfashionista.com. Because of my past support of
the LYCRA brand, I would like to give your company the chance to issue
a statement in regards to this incident. Copies of this letter will be
sent to other members of the print, television, and blogging world.

Yours in Fashion,

Kathryn

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Comments

  1. Lynn says

    Kathryn – What a tasteful, classy way to get your point across.  Your words provoked action and thought, which is rare in a world of ranting bloggers.  Thank you.

  2. says

    The attitude the employee had was revolting. What’s worse is that she is not alone in her views. The fashion industry has become ignorant in it’s treatment of ‘average’ (as in common) sized individuals.

    I’m glad you took a stand. Shame on them!

  3. says

    LOVED your letter! You are 100% right on the money. There is much irony in so-called “fashion moguls” who sneer at average Americans but expect us to drool over their designs on the pages of People and Us Weekly. I’m proud that the Budget Fashionista is on the front lines of fashion. Keep talking – we’re listening!

  4. Kim says

    It almost seems that as the average American woman increases in size, less and less clothing companies make accommodations for sizes larger than 6.

    Kathryn – It was awful how that woman treated you and there is no excuse for it. Thank you for being so pro-active in your letter and blog.  You are the voice of thousands of other women who have probably encountered similar situations.  I will be checking back in to see if LYCRA issues a statement in regards to this situation.

  5. jj says

    Regarding “Anna Wintour’s disgust of anyone who has to wear a pair of spanx” I just have to laugh.  Apparently she thinks Gwyneth Paltrow is disgusting?  That’s pretty funny as Ms. Paltrow has been featured fairly recently on the cover of Ms. Wintour’s magazine. 

    Cut me a break, we all need a little helping hand from our underthings now and then.

  6. says

    Way to go with that letter.  You were right-on to write it.  Sometimes I am astonished at how low customer service and PR has sunk for many companies in the fashion industry.  What on earth would make that woman feel like she had the right to speak to you that way, I do not know!

    Amanda
    Young and Broke blog

  7. Melissa C says

    Way to go Kathryn! I wish I could’ve attended that event with you and give that “woman” a piece of my mind. Thanks for looking out for all of us 12+ girls

  8. says

    You are absolutely right to take your poor treatment public and to give those people a chance to explain themselves (although there’s no excuse for this mess).  Even for a fashion event, I’m dismayed that anyone thought it was okay to be so rude to another human being.  Keep us posted on how this shakes out.  You’ve got a legion of fans and bloggers on your side!

  9. L says

    I’ve pretty much created my own style and shop at places that cater to women like me (plus size) since the powers that be in the fashion industry could care less about the average woman. The fact that a size 12 is considered a plus size is totally ludicrous. And this crap about how things are being sized now are horrible. Don’t we as women have enough to deal with society’s perceptions of beauty, which isn’t what Hollywood and these idiots are trying to force feed us.

  10. cin says

    First of all, I am in no way against your message of “fat” girls having the right to wear certain things, it’s a free country right? People should not have to conform to someone else’s standard of beauty. However, what really annoys me is the fact that a “best selling” author trying to have their point of view taken seriously did not bother to do a grammar check on their letter. As I was reading the letter, I could not help but be distracted by the numerous (I counted at least 10) grammatical errors. So please, grammar check is there for a reason, please use it (at least before you go ahead and send it to everybody and their momma). Thank you.

  11. Jenn says

    Great letter!  I’m trying to think of a nice way to put this, because I really don’t want to be insulting at all.  I really do think that the way you were treated is awful.  I’m just hoping that you proofread your letter before sending, since the one you posted here seemed to have some common errors.  But thank you for standing up for us fat girls!

  12. lori says

    way to go! thank you for speaking up for all people not “perfect”.

    on a highlight, at least spain stopped allowing aneroxic models on the runway.

  13. Sasha says

    Good work!  I’m looking forward to hear what kind of response they give you.  What exactly do they think they’re going to gain by being nasty?

    Fashion sizing is horrible… I’m 5’10 and wear a size 8/10, not exactly what you could consider “fat”, yet I’m too fat to fit into a LOT of of designer clothes (or I am the largest size available).  grrrr!

  14. says

    I was treated the exact same way!

    The PR girl for LYCRA was really rude, and standoffish. 

    I haven’t had a minute to blog about anything, because I’ve been at the tents all week. You better believe i’m going to get on it starting tomorrow!

    Thanks for putting that out there!

  15. says

    Great response to the poor treatment that you reicieved.  No one asks to be treated like that and your letter was right on the money and a very professional way of handling the situation.

  16. Tenia says

    I experienced something similar long ago and I applaud you for speaking out.  I used to be a plus-sized person (have lost 73 pounds and still losing).  I went into a swimsuit store to buy a suit for my size 1 sister-in-law.  Before I could even say why I was there, the salesgirl told me they didnt have swimsuits my size, I would need to go to a plus sized store.  I smiled, found two of the most expensive suits I could find and went into the dressing room.  I made a grand show of ‘trying’ them on.  I took my pants off and hung them over the door so she could see I had them off. I grunted and groaned.  An “oops” came out of my mouth, I opened the door and poked my head out to ask if I could get the most expensive one in a size 8, the 6 doesnt seem to fit.  The girl was horrified.  My stunt was over, I put my pants back on and walked back out with perfectly good suits, handed them to her and told her exactly what I thought of her attitude.  I then called the owner of the store which happened to be in the same shopping center as the flower shop I owned and let her know who she had working for her.  I hate to see someone lose their job but I was not sad to never see her again.

    So BRAVO to you for speaking up.  NO ONE has a right to treat anyone poorly based on size, appearance of income or any other reason.

  17. TIC says

    You handled yourself with class. Your letter is excellent. As a size 12 myself, I am offended by these people’s attitudes. Ms. Wintour is certainly no beauty contest winner and completely unsexy—regardless if she is a size 0; I see size 14+ women every day that exude more sex appeal than she ever did. As for Mr. Lagerfeld, he obviously has issues. I will be writing also as per your advice.

  18. TIC says

    You handled yourself with class. Your letter is excellent. As a size 12 myself, I am offended by these people’s attitudes. Ms. Wintour is certainly no beauty contest winner and completely unsexy—regardless if she is a size 0; I see size 14+ women every day that exude more sex appeal than she ever did. As for Mr. Lagerfeld, he obviously has issues. I will be writing also as per your advice.

  19. Anne says

    Kathryn, You go girlfriend!  Great that you sent that letter.  However, I must chime in agreement with Cin and Jenn, above.  I believe you meant to say, ‘in good conscience’ not ‘in good conscious.’  I spotted quite a few grammatical errors as well.  I hope that the letter you posted isn’t the one you sent.  I don’t mean to be mean or snarky but when I see errors such as those, I think that the writer either doesn’t know any better or, worse, doesn’t care.  I am sure that you as a best-selling author and intelligent fashionista do not want to give either impression.

  20. TBF says

    You’re write (ha ha) about the grammar thing.. but it was one of those cases that if I was to wait and edit it, etc, etc, I probably wouldn’t have sent it. It was like a heat of the moment sort of thing and, trust me, the LYCRA people took it very seriously.. I will be posting their letter today..

  21. says

    Thank you for sharing your rightous anger. I am sick of the “fashion world” treating me like I am not interesting because I am a size 12 and black, yet continuing to market products to me. I am proud of you for your success AND proud of you for standing up.

    GO YOU!

  22. MG says

    Your letter was perfectly on point. Lycra should have made sure that their top sales reps were there, who understand the art of selling and promoting.What I find amazing is that a major company would send out a representative to an important event who doesn’t understand that they are there to promote the product. They are there to make everyone interested in the product feel good about that product and walk away saying positive things.Too often people like the woman you dealt with have to belittle others because of their own personal insecurities. She must be a very unhappy person who makes the people around her fairly miserable. We should all be greatful not to be like her. I am certain that several of the people who may have overheard what was going on thought far worse of her versus shared in her cruelty. I think though at the time when a person experiences that type of treatment it hard to realize that. I was a size 12-14 for a long time and am currently a size 4. I have personally experienced the subtle differences in which people perceive you by your size. Its not usually blatant negative comments when you are larger (though I had a few of those), it is the additional comments you get from people when you are thinner. I can not tell you how many times people say to me things along the lines of “well you are so thin you can’t understand…” (Oh yes I can!) or how many more times you are told how great you look which has the by product of reinforcing self confidence. Size is important if it is affecting your health, but if it is not then life is too short to worry about it. Fashion is about fun and self expression so we should enjoy it while we can!

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