As you most likely may have heard by now Saks has closed all of the Salon Z Plus Size Departments in their retail stores . . . but don’t worry they will still be carrying plus sizes online (where have I heard that before?)
Now to play devils advocate I do not think that Saks decided to close their plus size department because they don’t (as I’ve seen written online) “want fatties in their store”. I actually believe them when they site sales as a reason for closing Salon Z. The problem is I don’t think it had to come to that and allow me to explain why . . .
For about a decade now I have been a retailer of plus size clothing. When I first started there was a plethora of plus size “bridge lines”: Tamotsu, Sunny Choi, DKNY (not the current cheaper DKNYC label), Dana Buchman, Ellen Tracy, Eileen Fisher, Lafayette 148, etc. Over the years the DKNY line disappeared as did Tamotsu and Sunny Choi but it didn’t really hurt my business much – what very near killed my business was the double blow of losing both Dana Buchman and Ellen Tracy and I have no doubt that losing those brands was the beginning of the end for Salon Z . . .
All department stores have buyers who visit trade shows and showrooms to buy lines for their stores – when Dana Buchman and Ellen Tracy’s bridge lines ceased to exist their buyers still needed to stock Salon Z unfortunately the brands that were appearing on the scene were more “contemporary” lines like Amanda Uprichard and Prairie New York and they were not really styles that fit with the core Salon Z customer. Most of the styles were a bit “too young” and Saks got stuck with them.
What I wish Saks would have done was simply make Salon Z a bit smaller and stick to the brands that still did exist that fit with their core customer such as Lafayette 148, Marina Rinaldi, Eileen Fisher, Lafayette 148 and Stizzoli. I can’t help feeling that had they done that Salon Z would have survived.
But, I hear you say – hey, the title of this post is: What Saks Closing Salon Z Means To Plus Size Women NOT Why Did It Close. Sorry, you are correct – it normally takes me a good while to get to my point
For years after Dana Buchman and Ellen Tracy’s bridge lines disappeared I prayed that someone, somewhere would step into the void and now with Saks closing Salon Z in all of its retail stores I fear that prayer has a much smaller chance of ever being answered.
Some of you may remember back in 2006 that Saks closed their petite department (it eventually reopened for a time due to the uproar). When that happened Ellen Tracy stopped making petites and brands like Dana Buchman and Eileen Fisher started to question how much time and resources they were going to continue to put into the brand now that one of their biggest buyers was pulling out of petites. Like Plus Sizes, Petites need special attention such as a different fit model, different patterns, etc. if there are no big retailers to purchase a fair amount of your product it does not get made and while Saks will still be selling plus sizes online those 25 Salon Z departments that no longer exist in their physical stores make designing and manufacturing higher end plus size clothing even less attractive than it already was.
I have no doubt that higher brands that currently do plus sizes (such as Lafayette 148) will remain in the plus size market but I do not see other higher brands deciding to jump in now that what surely would have been one of their biggest buyers is not going to be buying all that big anymore.
I can’t help but think that Saks’ decision to close Salon Z is a main reason why Marc Jacobs’ plus size line never came to be. I mean who would buy it? Bloomingdales perhaps and maybe even Nordstrom but if he was aiming for Macy’s well then that would mean more crappy polyester with a $99 price tag slapped on it and while some designers might not have a problem with that I don’t see Marc Jacobs compromising like that.