So … Topshop just opened its flagship store in Central, on Hong Kong island. There’s been quite a lot of coverage of this event, see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2336896/Thousands-Hong-Kong-fashion-fans-queue-Topshop-fix-Philip-Green-opens-flagship-Far-Eastern-store.html for an example.
Let me start by saying that I’m not a big fan of Topshop in the UK anyway. Too long I’ve felt shunted aside by a brand which, I feel, caters almost exclusively for the slim to medium-sized market. I have larger-sized girl friends who shop in Topshop just for the sake of declaring ‘Look, I fit into Topshop clothes!’ Personally, I feel that the clothes are poorly made, designed and executed. I know I’m probably offending a lot of hardcore Topshoppers, but that’s just my personal experience.
So, this leads me nicely to the subject of this post. When I first came to HK, I was told at least a couple of times that I’d have difficulty finding new clothes in my size. As I’ve said before, sizes in Hong Kong range from extra extra small to usually medium, before they finish and leave a plus-sized customer looking bewildered, scanning the rack for the ‘large’, or -heaven forbid – the XL sizes. Hong Kong is all about the skinny – this is a slimming centre ad featuring the new Miss Hong Kong – and plus size? What plus size? They just don’t exist!
This refusal to stock larger sizes by HK stores is both bewildering and frustrating for the plus size shopper. As consumers we have been ignored. With their reluctance to stock larger than a medium size, Hong Kong shops seem to suggest that there are no plus-sized women in HK, a fact which is blatantly untrue. While it’s true that many HK women are smaller in build and stature than their Western counterparts, I have seen plus-size Asian women in Hong Kong: they do exist, they are part of the clothes-buying, consumer market. So why so much reluctance to cater for their needs?
The lack of plus sizes in Hong Kong seems even more ridiculous when you consider the growing size of the expat community. As overseas economies worsen, more and more people are moving to HK to pursue careers and build families. Many of these women – from the UK, the USA, Australia, Canada, the Middle East, India, South America, everywhere – are plus-sized. That’s just a fact, and by not stocking the plus sizes which these women are looking for, Hong Kong shops are depriving themselves of a massive customer base. The growing distance between the image that Hong Kong wants to represent to the world – professional, stylish and above all very slim women – and the reality of the thriving Asian and expat community of all shapes and sizes is a glaring disparity. Plus size women are a gap in the Hong Kong market that needs to be filled, and soon, before we give up our searches and look online instead.
Topshop, you can keep your ill-fitting, badly made small-sized garments – we’re waiting for someone to realize that the plus-size market is crying out for some Hong Kong treatment.