On Friday Curvy Girl Chic wrote a post about H&M's new plus size line. I was interested in seeing what the line carried, as well as how it compared to Forever 21's plus size line. Sunday I went to the H&M on Michigan Avenue which is the only H&M in Chicago that carries the plus size line. After visiting H&M, I went to the Forever 21 across the street (one of three Forever 21s in Chicago that carry their plus size line). For those that don't know, Michigan Avenue is the shopping district of Chicago; with Chicago being one of the largest cities in the country, I would hope that H&M's and Forever 21's stores on Michigan Avenue would represent some of the best of the best of what they have to offer.
So, my verdict on H&M's "new" plus size line? Completely unimpressed. I have heard other bloggers saying that the H&M plus size line they saw offered colored denim, fashionable shirts, etc. but that it not what I found at the H&M on Michigan Avenue. The selection was rather small; I wasn't expecting a huge selection since the plus size line is new, however, I was still taken back by just how small the selection was in their massive three story store (which includes a men's section and a children's section). More so than the amount of clothes to pick from, I was disappointed with the type of clothes. It appears that H&M picked only their most basic (IE least fashionable) pieces for their plus size line; most of what I found in the plus size line was basic, plain colored, uninteresting t-shirts and sweaters. My overall experience at H&M was not helped by the snooty (skinny) girls walking through the plus size area laughing about how there was no way they were a size 14. The only two things I managed to find at H&M that I wanted to purchase was a pair of sweater tights (which developed snags within an hour of wearing them) and a bracelet (whose links disconnected before I even wore it), both of which were not in the plus sized section.
Forever 21 had a similarily small selection of clothes; their location on Michigan Avenue is two large floors (including a men's section), however, the plus size line was only a very small corner of one floor. Considering their plus size line has been around a lot longer, the size of the selection was more disappointing than H&M. Their clothing options in the plus size line were a lot less boring and a lot more interesting. For me personally, some of their clothes passed "interesting" and into "gaudy," however, I think that happens fairly often with trendier clothes (IE when making trendier clothes, it is more difficult to make something that appeals to everyone). Personally I'd rather see gaudy than basic, because it tells me the designers don't assume that "fat" people just want to blend in. What I found strange about Forever 21's plus size area is that it felt a bit like a TJ Maxx because there were several racks where there was only one or two of each item (rather than several sizes of each item). I'm the type of person that tends to find stores like TJ Maxx and vintage shopping a little stressful, because I always tend to find things I like in the wrong size. Yes, you can have things tailored, but really, it kind of defeats the purpose of shopping at a discount clothing store if you have to pay to have everything tailored. I've never looked at the plus size area of Forever 21 before, therefore, I can't tell you if the random assortment of clothes is typical. What I also found frustrating about Forever 21 was that the dressing rooms had nowhere to put your personal belongings (no chair, bench, whatever). Who wants to put their clothes, coat, purse, etc. on the floor of a dirty dressing room? Not me. In the end, I found only two things at Forever 21 that I wanted to purchase as well, and like H&M, neither were from the plus size area (I bought a winter hat and a snugly-fitted shirt).
So, when it comes down to it, on my first trip to check out the plus size line of both stores, I was not that impressed with either; Forever 21 is better in my book, but they've had more time to fine-tune their line. I'd like to check out H&M again after the line has been around longer to see if they add more fashionable pieces (especially since other bloggers said their locations had more fashionable plus-size pieces). I'd also like to check out Forever 21 again to see if the chaotic assortment of clothes in the plus size area was just a fluke.
I like that Forever 21+ has a broad choice of plus size clothes on their web-site, and I imagine H&M will do the same thing once they implement their on-line store later this year. What I would really love to see from both stores, is expanded sizes rather than just a plus size line; IE the ability to purchase everything, or almost everything in larger sizes, rather than limiting customers to a few choices stuck in the corner of select stores.