New Look’s green stripey trousers cost plus-size shoppers a 15 per cent premium
The rethink follows public outcry that some larger-sized garments were more expensive than those available in smaller sizes.
Shopper Maria Wassell, 43, caused panic at the retailer after accusing it of slapping a fat tax on women who are size 16 and above.
The retail supervisor from Ashford, Kent, spotted the price hike at her local branch when looking at a pair of green striped trousers on sale in its Curves range.
But the £22.99 price tag was £3 more than the smaller sizes selling for £19.99 – a 15 per cent difference.
Reasonable Ms Wassell said: “It’s like being discriminated against for being plus-size when I’m only slightly bigger than average.
“The average size for a British woman is now a size 16.”
Last night New Look said it hoped to “ensure pricing differences like these” did not happen in future, but refused to explain the discrepancy.
Plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams said charging more for bigger sizes was discriminatory.
“Some people don’t choose to be the size they are or height. If you have to pay extra money, subliminally it feels like you are being told you have to lose weight,” she said.
The row intensified debate around what needs to be done to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis.
More than two thirds of men and almost six in 10 women are now overweight or obese, with experts blaming junk food with high fat or sugar content.
Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said it was “entirely reasonable” to charge more for larger clothes sizes “because they require more material”.
He added: “If a woman is paying more for her clothes because she is a size 18 or over she will think seriously about staying in shape and that can only be a good thing.
But Ms Wassell insisted plus-size purchases were now on the increase.
“There’s more money being spent on plus-size clothing now than even three years ago,” she said.
New Look, which is set to close 60 stores and cut 1,000 jobs as part of a financial restructuring exercise, said in a statement: “To ensure differences like these don’t happen in future, we are in the process of reviewing the pricing structure of our plus-size collection.
“We value all customers, no matter what their body shape or size.”
Comment by Rivkie Baum
The plus-size market is currently worth a staggering £5billion, which is little wonder when you realise that the average British woman is now a size 16.
In an increasingly tough retail landscape more brands than ever before are offering plus-size clothing in a bid to tap into this lucrative consumer.
But with this burgeoning market comes greater complications, one which retail giant New Look fell foul of this week.
The high street store has been called out by customer Maria Wassell for selling the same trousers at two different prices, essentially adding a ‘fat tax’ of 15 per cent.
As a plus-size woman myself, the high street is often a frustrating place.
With limited options, it feels even worse when one of the few plus-size ranges I’ve come to rely on discriminates in this way.
New Look may find it faces stiff competition from the likes of ASOS Curve, which offers items in both lines at the same price, and fashion brand Elvi which offers sizes 8 to 28 at no extra cost.
And while many argue that it is fair to charge for using more fabric, until the strategy is used for ‘Tall’ ranges – or discounts offered for ‘Petite’ sections – this once again highlights that plus-size women are being penalised for their size.
New Look has said it hopes to put in place measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again. It’s about time too.