Legacy fashion house blasted over removal of plus-sized clothes: ‘Genuinely embarrassing’

A legacy Australian fashion brand has been panned by customers after dropping a clothing size from its offering as part of an overhaul.

Witchery unveiled its official rebrand – along with its new Bold Awakening collection – to much fanfare on Tuesday. The leading clothing retailer, which was founded in South Australia in 1970 and falls under parent organisation Country Road Clothing, has described the “new look Witchery” as a “fresh design direction”.

However, it’s one that no longer includes – as many “disappointed” customers were swift to point out on social media – any Australian woman above a Size 18. The brand previously catered to a Size 20 or XXXL. The average Australian woman wears a Size 14 to 16.

Witchery revealed it would no longer make size 20. witcheryfashion/Instagram

A Witchery spokesperson told news.com.au the decision was made “after careful consideration”.

“Size inclusivity is important for us, and we’re proud to be one of the few high street fashion brands in our category to offer such a wide range of sizes in our main range,” they said.

“After careful consideration, we’ve decided to remove size 20 from our collection. This size accounted for a small percentage of our sales, and when we asked our customers why, the feedback revealed inconsistencies in our sizing between styles.

Some felt that Witchery’s marketing was misleading. nicole.bridgetgrace/TikTok

“In response, we embarked on an extensive project to improve the accuracy and consistency of our sizes and fits across our whole collection.

“Our updated design direction means that sizes from 10 and up are now a more relaxed fit, with the new size 18 fitting closely to the previous size 20.

“While size 20 is currently unavailable, we’re committed to learning from and listening to our customers as we refine our sizing.

Many criticized the fashion label’s new rebrand. witcheryfashion/Instagram

“We welcome our customers to come in-store to experience the new collection and try on the new fits.”

Shoppers took to the Witchery’s Instagram page to question the move.

“It’s genuinely so embarrassing to be proud that you’ve made your clothing less accessible for people,” one woman commented.

Commenters said the new rebrand did not reflect what the company once was. Video Image Guy – stock.adobe.com

“An active step AWAY from size inclusivity by removing size 20? Weird flex. Will be shopping elsewhere,” another wrote.

While a third said: “Love that in 2024 a rebrand for you means being less inclusive … this is incredibly disappointing.”

Customer scrutiny spread far beyond just the brand’s Instagram comments; content creators also took to TikTok to share their frustration.

The brand now only goes up to a size 18. witcheryfashion/Instagram

“Your curvy, midsize, plus size friends have been left out once again,” midsize fashion blogger Nicole Bridget said in her video, which was captioned, “Witchery’s rebrand is a joke”.

“Not only have (Witchery) not listened to their customers, they have dropped size 20.

“It feels like we’re going backwards in the fashion industry.”

Promoting the new seasonal line on Witchery’s website, newly-appointed Head of Design, Kirby Hanrahan wrote, “We know the power of fashion and how the perfect piece can transform your mood and confidence. I hope our customers feel the most confident versions of themselves and I want our collections to empower them no matter what their day brings.”

Body positivity and acceptance advocate and speaker April Hélène-Horton, best known on social media as The Bodzilla, questioned the decision to “characterise this lacklustre campaign as ‘bold’ and a ‘new direction’” when they’d opted to exclude an entire size.

“I agree it’s bold to take your brand from being one that had the power to change the game for mainstream women’s fashion in this country to whatever this is,” Hélène-Horton said.

“The lack of size and skin colour diversity as well as the distinct absence of Witchery’s signature style tells me that the brand is looking to capture a very specific sort of customer with no regard for existing lovers of their brand – or anyone who’s not a slim, white woman.

“It’s 2024 – a large brand launching a campaign like this, while smaller brands with curve sizes and diverse models continue to push forward in a volatile economic climate, tells me that at the core of their business, Witchery doesn’t give a f**k about diversity. Embarrassing.”

Witchery said not enough people bought a size 20. witcheryfashion/Instagram

Founder of inclusive women’s fashion brand Fayt, Brittney Saunders, said it was “a bit tone-deaf to call their brand ‘awakening’ when they’re removing a size”.

“I love a rebrand, but … the whole thing is just a little bit off,” Ms Saunders, whose label caters to Sizes 6 to 26, said.

“They just have essentially missed the mark for a rebrand in 2024, being a fashion brand established in 1970 … This is such a missed opportunity.

“You’re a huge brand that’s been around for so long and you did go to a size 20 which was great of you, and you just think in 2024 there would be enough people in your office to have conversations and go, ‘Actually maybe we shouldn’t remove a size’.

“They would have money, they could have went all out with this rebrand, they could’ve extended their sizing further and done a massive campaign with so much diversity, they could have really knocked it out of the park … I would like to see them turn it around.”

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