I have been blessed with three daughters and several female grandchildren, and I have discovered over the years that the retail establishment doesn’t care a whit for what is appropriate clothing for different age ranges.
For someone who was trained early in retail merchandising, I found this disconcerting and infuriating.
I remember particularly, when my eldest was in need of some new clothing, and the only choice we had was for her to have “little kid” items or stuffy, adult fashions. The retail world did not have anything then for the middle ages of children growing up. It didn’t matter if it was Macy’s, Saks, Penney’s, Sears or Magnin’s. My daughter was frustrated and disappointed, and I was furious that we had no options.
Over the years, that has changed – drastically. Now the variety of clothing available for girls of just about every age is skimpy and sexy.
There was more than one time that I was in a store and saw a young mother buying clothing for her 2- or 3-year-old toddler that was more appropriate in style for a teenage prostitute. The mother saw nothing wrong with that, and the store was more than willing to reap the profits.
The designers and retailers jumped on the bandwagon that brought in the greatest sales, and the needs and wants of the consumer be damned. In fact, the media laid the groundwork and created the demand – movies, videos, TV and print – all had the same sales pitch: Dress like a hooker and be a star.
The kids got sucked in, and the parents had no choice. It was a dismal situation, but since no one fully complained, things just got worse and worse.
But there’s a change afoot that is interesting – and, yes, it all comes down to money.
Department stores have been struggling financially recently, and Macy’s is no exception. Last year, it announced that Macy’s would shutter some 100 of its stores – just one chain that is doing the same thing. But then, it “discovered” a new market and jumped in with enthusiasm.
The market: Muslim women.
With the influx of Muslims in this country and their presence more and more in the West, Macy’s has discovered that those women are a fertile market for conservative, modest clothing, and they have decided they will provide it. In fact, according to retailing experts, they’re the first major U.S. retailer to offer a collection of modest clothing aimed at Muslim women, at a relatively low price point.
They make no bones about the fact that their targeted customers are Muslim women. It’s called the “Verona collection” and includes dresses, long cardigans, tops and hand-dyed hijabs. According to the Bay Area News Group, the prices range from $13 to $80.
The designer of the collection says she saw the need for clothing that was modest, fashionable and affordable, so she introduced the clothing line.
It appears to be successful, and good for her.
But what I find reprehensible is that Macy’s is more than willing to meet the needs of modest Muslim women, yet over the years, it had no compunction about ignoring the needs and desires of middle-class Americans who wanted modest clothing styles for their growing female children.
Of course, they were just “American Christians,” and they didn’t count as far as business was concerned. But it’s different now. There’s a political slant to the current popularity.
It seems to me it’s just a way to pander to Muslims and yet take advantage of them and make a profit. Remember: Retailing is about nothing more than profit. As I mentioned, Macy’s and many other chains have been hurting financially. If Muslim clothing is a way to rectify that, they will jump on the bandwagon – and, apparently, they have. So far, it’s been successful.
It’s impossible not to include the political aspect of this. A California stylist, Saba Ali, said Macy’s move is one of inclusivity. “It gives people hope, that someone’s including us and not ostracizing us.”
She said, “It’s encouraging to see a mainstream American retailer marketing a line of clothing toward Muslim women – a hopeful step in the right direction.”
It’s also a step in the direction of greater profits for Macy’s, and that’s not so bad, either – which I suspect is the real reason the decision was made.
What else is new?
Media wishing to interview Barbara Simpson, please contact [email protected].