The Gintlemen, Ben: Boohoo MAN Big & Tall
If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, you may be a little surprised too see Boohoo on the blog.
I have issues with them. Their distinct lack of openness when it comes to plus size clothing – they not only charge more, but aren’t open about it. They hide it under different names – it’s not the cost, it’s the sneakiness I can’t abide.
Then there’s the fact that they don’t use plus size models to model their plus size clothes. I have no clue how something will fit on me, if there’s not someone plus size wearing it, for starters, let alone the fact that it just generally makes you feel like they can’t be arsed to represent you.
And finally we have their #AllGirls campaign. Which featured nobody differently abled, nobody plus size, nobody trans – it simply ISN’T all girls at all.
But, this is the Gintlemen. It’s their space, not mine. So it’s only fair that I offered an opportunity to them. And, sensitive to my issues with them Ben offered to take a look at their Big and Tall range. After all, they had a plus size model for the gents. It could be a step in the right direction, couldn’t it?
Boohoo is one of the biggest UK internet shopping booms of 2017. A native British brand based in Manchester, it has just launched a range for the “Big and Tall” man, and, as someone who is just at the top end of the high street shopping size bracket, I was very excited to hear from a cohort who have established themselves in the market place for “standard” size clothing, and who appear to have a commitment for trendy, young, yet everyday, accessible fashion.
I must confess to a rather mixed experience, overall. I was put in contact with an advisor at Boohoo, and given a budget to go shopping with. Looking round the website, it appeared they had a flash sale on, and so I was excited to pick up a few extra bargains. Sadly, having submitted my order, I was then told that the flash sale wasn’t applicable to my order; meaning I had to start all over again in order to get a decent cross-section of products. Not the greatest of starts.
There were definitely positives. The clothes fit true to size as indicated on the online size chart, meaning that you can have a level of trust in ordering online, something that is always a difficult thing to gauge. The clothes arrived speedily – around 3 days after placing the order, the clothes were with me. In an age of fast pace, internet and instant retail gratification, from this point of view, Boohoo are pretty competitive.
I’m afraid that here, the fun stops. The clothes (admittedly very reasonably priced) don’t really stand up to the rigours of daily wear and tear. The teeshirt I ordered came in a very thin cotton: predictably after 3 washes it had lost shape, bobbled and shown serious signs of wear. The denim shorts I selected were similarly very thin, and after 3/4 wears I noticed a hole developing in the crotch area. Generally, there were significant signs of fade after a few washes too.
This would be forgivable, given said modest pricing of the products (tshirts from £6, hoodies from £10, etc). But the second issue I have with the company is slightly more substantive. Sizing. In a general high street store, I sit on the edge of Large/Extra Large sizing – I’m roughly a 44″ chest and take a 36 or 38 jean depending on how many tasty dinners I’ve had in the preceding week. In the world of Boohoo, this is deemed a 2XL. Given that this is a brand trying to open itself up to the “big and tall” market, I am probably about as small as the brand demographic realistically covers. I really feel for someone bigger than me going to them and requiring something that might be sized 4 or 5XL. A friend said to me, in another context, that “the role of the retailer is to give the customer what they want”. What do we want? We want to feel good. We want to buy clothes that make us look good and help us to feel positive about our bodies. We want to wear things that make us walk with an air of confidence. My Facebook timeline is constantly full of friends excited that they’ve gone down a size, or showing pictures of them being wrapped double in old clothes before they hit the gym/nailed a fad diet/made some life improvements. This is the 2017 world we live in.
If, by going to a clothing company, I feel like I’ve instantly gone up one or even two clothes sizes, I’m personally very unlikely to buy their attire. Moreover, for a line purporting to embrace a larger clientele, this policy sends out entirely the wrong message. If it weren’t already a bit awkward shopping “plus size”, my ego is given an added blow by a sizing policy completely at odds with the high street.
All of which would be fine if, when they arrived, the clothes were of great quality and durability, combined with style. I’m afraid to say that this simply wasn’t the case in my experience. Boohoo, I believe you really need to consider all aspects of this range, from quality to presentation. It just doesn’t sit right, and I don’t believe it does the job, as a brand, that the public need it to do. Back to the drawing board, methinks.
We have reached out to BoohooMAN for comment. As yet, we haven’t received any response.