My incredibly disappointing review of H&M Plus

No, these aren't from a consignment shop in an elderly community. This is H&M+

By now, those of you who have read my blog in the past know that I am a HUGE and loyal fan of H&M clothing. With their standard sizes going up to a size 14, I can usually find dress options, as well as tops, accessories and jackets that are trendy, affordable and overall, wonderful additions to my wardrobe.

Admittedly, I have previously not paid much attention to their plus size line because it has not been available in stores. When it came out in the springtime, I was unaware that it was even in stores until I read about it on The Curvy Fashionista. By that time, I couldn’t find any items in the stores by me, so I patiently waited for fall.

When the ads came out, they looked nice and then a few days ago, one of my fave bloggers Alyssa from Stylish Curves, shared her experience with shopping the plus dept at our local H&M on 34th St and 7th Avenue. She mentioned that she was pleased with the items, so I was SO excited last night after work to swing by and pick up some goodies.

When I got to the store, I asked the saleswoman to please direct me to where it was located. She mentioned it was on the second floor.

Anyone who shops at H&M knows that the mannequins are always dressed in the best clothes they are selling at the moment. There are section managers that are in charge of keeping each section coordinated with color and trend stories. I was hoping it would be the same for plus, as I have seen Forever 21 do this, as well as several other major dept stores.

What I saw was shocking. I quickly learned that the amazing bloggers I follow are true masters of fashion to make these items look cute, because the clothes were a downright HOT MESS.

In the back corner of the second floor was a disastrously messy, unkempt and empty section, with a little dinky sign that read “H&M + Sizes 14-24.”

Now, I understand that NY is a busy place and 34th St in Manhattan is one of the busiest retail spots in the entire world. I saw many employees however, hanging out and talking, or attending to other sections, while the plus size section sat looking sad, messy and unappealing. Like the secret, ugly cousin they’re ashamed of and didn’t want anyone to see.

The clothes were wrinkly, dusty and dirty. Worse, they were mixed up, hanging off the hangers and in a heap in many sections.
I saw one nice and efficient sales person, a young woman, helping out an older woman with some items and giving her style advice. I appreciated that and it is honestly what kept me from walking away in utter disgust. I wish I knew her name so I could write to corporate about how she was the one redeeming thing of the night.

So I started to look for things to try on.  And I was let down so horribly.

I can say with 100 percent honesty that the designs and clothes I saw were completely shapeless and it looked like the buyers made little effort to pay attention to what trends are in right now. The ads with Tara Lynn are beautiful, but to me it seems that this is more a reflection of Tara being a phenomenal model and the shoot’s impressive creative director & stylist, and not the clothing itself.

H&M standard clothes are honestly some of the trendiest, sexiest, most fun pieces in my wardrobe and the plus size section was the exact OPPOSITE. It was shapeless and school-marm-looking and dominated by cliché prints (more florals than anyone should ever have to see).

Perhaps they thought having no cinched waists, structured pieces or seams that flatter was what the plus size customer is looking for. There is certainly a market for that and I know that some women are looking for it. But these clothes are simply not flattering on anyone. At best, they are loose-fitting. At worst, some of the dresses were like potato sacks.

I like to consider myself someone who can make the BEST out of less than favorable items. I tried on at least 20 items, no lie. But I found almost nothing I liked. There was a peplum top that was cute and the widely-circulated sheer polka dot sleeve top a la Stella McCartney, but honestly, I didn’t even like that when I put it on. There was another cute, black and white polka dot blouse, but guess what? Simply Be designed that last spring.





Then there is the sizing and fit. Having done fit model work, I know what goes into fitting the clothes on a plus size body because no two plus size women are the same and “on paper” measurements usually mean very little when it comes to fitting. It’s a long and arduous process, yes, but one that is very much worth it in the end for a proper sizing scale. I don’t know if they used a smaller fit model or frankly if they even used a fit model at all. I was, on average, going up 2 sizes to get pants to fit the way I wanted and Marie from TCF noted a similar instance in her piece last spring.

After all of that, the ONE item I purchased was a pair of high-waisted shorts, which I had to buy at 3 sizes bigger than my normal size. I went home and took in the waist myself, and I will wear them with a belt. I’ll post that look soon, but I know the average shopper will not want to do this, especially when she can go to Torrid or Forever 21 for a similar item that won’t need altering.
When I went to pay, after buying a few items from the standard line (which btw, was easier to fit than the plus line -- How in God’s name, I don’t know!), I asked the sales girl, who wasn’t plus size, about it.

She was very sweet and super candid. To put it simply, she said it wasn’t selling and that people didn’t even know about it really. She agreed that the clothes were not trendy and then told me that she did not think that the higher ups really cared about the content. This is an EMPLOYEE of H&M at 34th street in NEW YORK CITY, admitting this to me.

Then she added, “I don’t think plus size women are our customer or that they shop here.”

Yes, she said that, to me, at a size 16, standing in front of her (in leggings that did nothing to conceal my shape), buying plus size shorts from her store. And there were at least 4-5 other women who could wear plus in my eyesight. So either we were invisible or she did not understand what plus size looks like.

Overall, there is simply no excuse for this. How can small designers with not even a toenail’s budget in comparison to H&M, produce beautiful, amazing, fashion-forward clothes?

I’ll tell you how, BECAUSE THEY CARE.

I love H&M and I love their clothes. But it’s clear that whoever is in charge of their plus size department does not really care. They look like they are phoning it in and not looking to magazines or bloggers to see what is on trend and what is being worn.

And the saddest part of all is that I know, like so many other retailers have done, that they will tell people how “they tried” and “plus size clothes just don’t sell.”

No, when they are low-quality, cliché, messy and, in some cases, downright ugly, you’re right, they don’t.

H&M, please do better.

I believe in you. Now it’s time you believed in us.




CONVERSATION

34 comments:

Myah said...

Ugh! Finally I really thought that I was the only one!I am so tired of hearing oh well its a start..when a normally straight size retailer, makes an attempt to create a plus size line. Or what do you expect? They don't specialize in plus sizes -__-. With all the resources that h&m has I expected so much more!

Xenia G. said...

Whoa, that looks like they didn't even bother and just copied some other boring Plus Size retailer :/ Such a great opportunity for them to show off what they can do but this is a fail. So disappointing!

Гала said...

I had the same problem in Moscow H&M (Russia), the hangers with clothes from the plus section were all messed-up, dirty and full of threads that leave you all messy after trying it on, sizes not matching, items are not stylish, etc..i loved H&M before i gained weight, but it seems they don't do so well with bigger sizes..

Ticka said...

**Stands up and claps hands**

I shop at the H & M in the Mall of America in Minnesota, and I have the same issue with the plus section. I eventually gave up and stopped browsing the section all together. Like you, I am able to fit a lot of their tops and some skirts (stretchy) in their main range sections, so that's where I focus my attention.

It's really not ok. Thank you for being so thorough in your explanation of your experiance.

The diary of a SKF Lady said...

When HM first opened in NYC they sold plus size clothing, I remember buying a few pieces @ the 50th street location and 34th street location. If I recall correctly, they sized their plus size clothes differently like a size 1 was a 14 or something like that. Their plus size clothes were decent, not great maybe a step below Old Navy.

MAYRA :) said...

I've always tried to like H&M but the one close to me is just like this a mess and makes me all flustered when I look through the clothes, I usually grab some accessories quick and easy. I always admire bloggers who manage to find great clothing pieces at H&M because I never can..Btw I recently found your blog and I love it!! You have amazing style!!
-Mayra
www.mommynheels.blogspot.com

Shainna Tucker said...

I to am quite upset that they aren't putting in the effort. I gave them the benefit of the doubt with the spring pieces, and figured they will grow, but this is just sad.
I live for the dresses in their main line, its so much more fashion forward. Idk they need to put more work behind the line. Or else it will die out like it did last time.

xoxo
Shay

Div said...

I wrote about this on my blog too. Two thumbs down...http://crystalmeth-odology.blogspot.com/2012/04/big-girls-need-love-too.html

Skinny Emmie said...

I had the same experience with the pants - I'm a solid 24, so imagine my panic when each pair of H&M size 24 pants couldn't even go over my hips.

I did buy several pieces about 4 months ago at the Michigan Ave store in Chicago that I liked. That being said, when I got them home, I sobered up from my shopping happiness and realized that the fit of most of the pieces was inferior to the rest of my wardrobe. Most pieces only got 1-2 wears, save for two knit tees that were really versatile.

Here's that review: http://emmieloves.com/2012/03/hm-plus-sizes-review/

AGENT PROVACATEUR said...

I'm appalled by the view of those awful, messy, sloppy and absolutely Hideous clothing they put aside for the Plus size line. First and foremost, many years ago H&M use to go up to a size 16 I still have some lovely well tailored skirts purchased there, second They also use to have a plus size line in their stores It was outscourced from another designer but with their name, and they were really nice. I believe they have jumped on the band wagon of providing an outlet for Plus, however they did not take time in perfecting the design, or silhouette. They just took some mediocre materials and made big clothing that does not require any tailoring. This is something that a first year design student putting together a collection would not do. So H&M if you can't do it right and give the same respect to the plus girls than you should not have a hand in it At ALL... Thanks Allie for the pics and commentary. Kudos

Alissa said...

Girrrl! I wrote this same post when they first came out back in February. I am a size 18 and had to buy the size 24 in pants. The dresses are bland and shapeless and not shapeless in a cute way either. HOwever, I went in there this past week and found a few cute things. NOthing to really write home about but much better then what I saw in February. I personally felt that since they had a plus line back in 2000 that they saw their mistakes then and would have done a much better job but I was wrong. AS plus size women we need to speak up about what retailers are offering instead of not saying anything. There is power in the plus size dollar and we just need to speak up about what we want.

Golden_leah said...

I'm from Philly and the H&M plus size section was on the 2nd floor and in a back corner. It used to be on the first floor, but they pushed it upstairs and in a corner! I wasn't impressed by the options, but I managed to get some really nice lightweight pants (even though it had an 80's inspired elastic waistband). Nothing jumped out to me as "stylish" like their regular sized clothes. I saw a really nice dress, but that was it. I hope they take some notes from Forever 21, because they really need it!

Alter Ego Clothing said...

I make plus size clothing and can't get people to blog about my company. They make mumus and get blogged about erryday. Fabulous.

uptownflavor said...

I hope you sent this post with pictures to corporate headquarters.

Chastity Valentine said...

HORRIBLE!!!! You know I only wear regular H&M. I heard such bad reviews that I didnt even go looking for it.

Nisa said...

Girl preach!! I went there today excited to check their items and i was left with a sad smile. Im also a size 16 and i try their blazzers and i ended up being a size 20!!! i mean what about the girls that are 20? that means they wont fit it soo its not really plus size is it?...I bought a blazer for 49.97 plus tax and i went to forever 21 and i got 2 blazers size XL for less and way better fit. Im returning the H&M blazer and keeping my forever21+ :)

Fish In A Desert said...

This is SO true. Luckily for you in the States you can find F21 and Torrid, but for me, in Spain, H&M+ is like my daily basis, I have like 50% the clothes they sell, but this is just because THERE´S NO OTHER OPTION. I Love the dresses, the tops, the paterns in the "regular size part of the store", and I cannot understand why they don´t do the same with the plus size. Even worse, now I think they don´t make the pregnancy line any more, but when it was on stores, all the clothes were ten times better quality, fit and on trend than the plus size line. This is a total shame.
Other thing that bothers me is to find 3 tipes of jeans on the plus size line that are there the whole year, and with a price like 35 € (wich is soo expensive for their quality) and they´re NEVER on sale. I don´t understand that. Agh, this makes me sooo angry!! I hope posts like yours reach H&M designers/bosses and someone takes it in count.

XX http://miramodernonosoybethditto.blogspot.com.es

afatgirlsblues.com said...

THIS is nothing short of a in your face slap of what h&m and society thinks of us. we should be greatful we have a section right? WRONG!!!!!!!!!! people need to understand that we have the right to be sexy, trendy and downright FIERCE. If I have to continue giving the mainrange areas in H&M my money then I will with no questions asked.

damnyoualexisdiary.com said...

It's so refreshing to have someone blog what we are all thinking. These big retailers assume anyone over a size 14 doesn't care about trends and then are confused when the sales of their shapeless shitty clothing are non-existent. Shame on them.

coutureforcurves.com said...

I'm so sorry that you went through this, it's such a let down when you are excited about a line and then it turns out to be nothing like you imagined it would be. I, too, shop at H&M and the size, cleanliness, and variety of what is carried seems to vary from location to location. At my local H&M, I simply can't find anything, I have to go to the larger shopping mall (10-15 minutes one way by metro/S-train) to potentially find something; and shopping online is an absolute joke because, as you said, the sizing is wonky. Usually, I fit into an EU 48 (US 18) in jeans, but in anything else, it's completely up in the air.

There are so many other places to shop now, though, compared to how it was 10 years ago; if H&M wants to miss out on that huge chunk of revenue, it's their loss. Granted, I'd love to be able to walk into an H&M and find what is in the plus section to be trendy, but if it comes down to it and I only have an hour to shop, I'm just going to go to a different store.

coutureforcurves.com said...

You may want to check Punt Roma, I loved shopping there when we were in Spain. Unfortunately I didn't know they weren't available online (yet), or I would have bought in bulk ;)

Fish In A Desert said...

Thanks!! Yes, there are lots of stores, but the clothes aren´t cheap either and their clothes are for more mature clients, some basics are OK, but I never find nothing exiting.

Kim said...

I'm sorry you had such a crappy experience. We don't have H&M's in my area so I'm only familiar with their clothes based on what other bloggers post. Even with that being said, the clothing pictured in this review is down right embarrassing. H&M should be ashamed that anything that wrinkled and disheveled is hanging on racks in their stores. And don't get me started on those styles! Some of that stuff looks like something you would have found on a Kmart clearance rack 15 years ago. Pitiful!

The Beauty Vixen said...

Allie, I hope you don't mind, but I posted this link on my blog. I really appreciate the way you handled this experience, and I wanted to pass it along. I didn't use any of your images, I just added a link that will lead them to this post. I am not a "plus-size" vixen, but I agree with you whole-heartedly. Thank you for being such a lady.

coutureforcurves.com said...

I got a white tanktop and a button-blouse, I was torn on buying more--they had a really nice blazer and a fantastic purse--but, silly me, thought I could get them online when I got back home (didnt have enough room in the suitcase).

You probably won't find anything cutting edge teen style there, but you can always mix and match if your local H&M isn't quite cutting it. I do the same with Massai--once in a blue moon they have something really cool that I buy, but mostly it's not really "me".

Good luck with your shopping :)

staci wessel said...

I love H&M for their prices, but have always been to curvy to buy from them. That is why I started my own Curvy girl Boutique. www.unhingedstyle.com. I am shocked to see the plus size section at H&M! It's a hot mess! Whoever is buying isn't a curvy girl. If you want style and great prices...check us out!

letter2self said...

I was so excited when I heard about their plus size line as well, I even made a special shopping trip with my sister (also plus size) when she came to visit me in NY. We looked all over the store, and all I ended up getting was a super cute pair of glasses. Most of my favorite outfits consist of H&M REGULAR sized clothing, but their plus size line was beyond hideous. I don't even know what they were thinking.

Fish In A Desert said...

Hi!! I´ve featured your post in my weekly favourites!! If there´s any problem, just let me know ;)

XX http://miramodernonosoybethditto.blogspot.com.es

Sylvetta Migon said...

Im just trying to figure out why some companies think that all plus sized women want to dress like flowery potato sacks with no shape or style. I would be someone's grandma and wear curlers in my hair all the time if that was the case

lonebutterfly38 said...

Nothing has changed at H & M. I went the Willowbrook Mall location in Houston, TX 2 months ago and I was not impressed. The plus size department is so small I had walked passed it. After filtering through the sloppy mess on hangers I found one top that I liked. Everything else in the collection was shapeless, unexciting and just blah "old lady gardening clothes". Can a thick sista' get a graphic tee or some liquid pleather leggings...

Alec Farwell said...

you designs are awesome and lovely. As a model i can tell you your outfits are really great.

Cheers,
Alec farwell

Roosevelt said...

Your clothing for the plus size womens are really awesome. These dresses are very attractive and give really awesome appearance look to her beauty. I have no words to define to your womens apparel ranges.

FlyingPurpleHippos.com said...

I agree about H&M+, though, I am honesty surprised that you feel F21+ is better. I feel that the plus size selection at both in-stores is really lacking; mostly ugly and/or boring choices. Often times their plus size areas look like a TJ Maxx (in that they have a random collection of things, rather than several sizes of each option).

I live in Chicago, by the way.

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