Friday, April 5, 2013

Target apologizes for offensive plus-size labeling... is reporting that Target will change the way it labels its products after an eagle-eyed shopper sparked a backlash for the retail giant. Susan Clemens, a self-described “plus size” woman from Orange County, Calif., was taken aback when she saw a friend’s Facebook post with a picture of a plus-size Target maxi dress described as “manatee gray.”

When Clemens, 49, went on the site herself to see if her friend’s post was true, she discovered not only that the plus-size style was described as “manatee gray,” but the regular size of the exact same maxi dress was described as “dark heather gray.”

Clemens took to Twitter to express her outrage, posting a screen shot of the two identical dresses with the different descriptors along with her tweet. “What the.  Plus sized women get “Manatee Grey” while standard sizes are “Dark Heather Grey.”  @Target #notbuyingit,” she wrote Tuesday. Within 24 hours Clemens’ tweet had spread across Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and blogs. “A lot has happened in a day because it really resonates with people,” she said.  “I really didn’t expect it to spread as widely as it has but people are tired of having the size and shape of their body commented on, and that’s what this color discrepancy seems to imply.”

Clemens’ tweet was also heard by Target, which issued an apology to her on Twitter, as well as an explanation and immediate action. “It was never our intention to offend our guests,” Target spokeswoman Jessica Deede told today.  “We heard from our guest.  We apologized and we are working to fix it ASAP.” Deede says the “manatee gray” color description is a “seasonal color used across many different categories on” and, in this case, the two different descriptions came down to two people updating the website. “There were two different teams that worked on uploading the dresses to, which explains the discrepancy,” she said. The Minnesota-based retail chain is now updating its inventory across the board to say only “gray,” as opposed to more specific descriptors, according to Deede.


J.CrewJD said...

How ridiculous. It wasn't an issue until someone (who must have issues with their own body size) felt offended because of their own perception that it is bad to be plus size. I am a little tired of such ridiculousness. I am quite sure that whoever named the color did not even think of how it could possibly be considered even remotely offensive by just one person, and it's sad that we live in a world where we have to do that.

Buck Bard said...

I will take the opposite position - there was absolutely no reason to rename the same color for a different size. This was a bad goof on large women - how can it not?

(Also, as far as I can tell they didn't rename any other color in the plus version)

J.CrewJD said...

I guess I just find it troubling that people immediately jumped to the conclusion it was a cruel, intentionally offensive act, rather than first assuming that it must be a mistake. Why would a company like Target intentionally offend anyone? I am saddened by people's inclination to always assume the worst.

Elizabeth said...

@J.CrewJD I guess people who don't fit in small sizes are tired of having to deal with wording and the fact that places like J. Crew don't even sell past a size 10/12 in their stores. It is frustrating and sad. I mean come on "Manatee." It was someone who does the ad's mean spirit, you can't deny it.
Back to J.Crew, why do they not sell 14 in their stores, when the entire population of women tend to fit in this category? You have to go on line to get those sizes from them, like you are too hideous to go in their store, so you have to buy it on line only. This will forever puzzle me.

Brett said...

Buck Bard, To bad there towels have the same color and other bathroom items. Unless the towel is extra extra large lol......

Music said...

Brett - you're totally correct that there are other items all over Target that have the same color name - even rain boots. Although it appears that you can only find them in "cached" info on the Web now since Target is trying to get rid of "Manatee" across the board.

I'd like to know the order/development/fabrication process because I actually DO believe the color is named with the fabric before it's ever cut into a dress form. And there may be different sources/factories for what looks like the same fabric. I've seen the same t-shirt in the same size at Target where it appeared the source manufacturer may have been different because of a different dye lot or even quality.

I did read a post somewhere else from a person who works in the fabric industry and actually has to come up with names for the colors - and they do it simply to present the options for the fabric.

So I am thinking this actually was not intentional. I have seen the same color name before on everything from housewares to clothes to bedding at Target; so I think the "seasonal" comment may be accurate as opposed to a CYA PR move.

My thought is that it's probably a very unfortunate conflagration of issues here.

I mean, please, this is not akin to the stuff that makes its way onto the floors of Abercrombie or Urban Outfitters where a questionable call is often emblazoned on the front of an item.

Amalthea said...

What I find even more wrong is that when Target had a designer do a line, if they do have a "plus-size" part of the line, why is it online only??

Or they don't even offer the collection in plus-sizes?? They had plus size Caylpso St. Bart online, but not in stores. Zac Posen had the same thing. Why is it when Target has a plus size department in their stores, the designers who are having larger sizes shunned to the internet? ANd why doesn't Target state that to have a collection in their stores, ALL sizes must be offered??

sarah said...

@Amalthea: If they find it is not economically feasible to offer plus size collections in stores, then they have every right to make sound decisions to offer products online. It isn't personal. Its business.

@Elizabeth: The same can be true for smaller sizes. I often walk by Lane Bryant, see cute clothes, but cannot fit into their offered sizes. They do not cater to my demographic, just like J Crew doesn't cater to larger sizes. Maybe J Crew will realize they are limiting themselves to a small portion of the market, but for now that is their business strategy.

Response to post: I agree that the use of Manatee wasn't exactly the smartest choice. For brand value, Target needs color names to evoke positive feelings within the customer. I am not plus size, but I wouldn't want to wear something called manatee. Not really a turn on for a consumer.

lightning x said...

Agree with the comments about Manatee just being a ridiculous choice of a color name. No, I would not wear elephant, rhino, or hippo grey let alone manatee. Now fox grey, even greyhound or slate - these are all good colors for grey that are evocative of things that are graceful and elegant.