Outrage at the Outlets

There’s a giant outlet center about an hour outside of town, and the other day, I did a little shopping there. At the top of my list was finding a new pair of shoes, but I ended up going in more than 20 stores and looking at all kinds of stuff (and trying a lot of it on). I didn’t want to spend more than 2 hours shopping, but it ended up being closer to 4. Exhausting.

And I saw something there that really pissed me off.

It’s definitely not the first time I’ve seen this particular kind of retail trickery, but I had never seen it to this extreme before. It involves the styling of mannequins at the Banana Republic Factory Store.

Here’s a perfectly fine polo shirt. It’s on sale, which is nice, but it’s a little dull for my taste. That’s besides the point.

I walked up to this display and thought, ‘Wow, that is one fitted polo. It’s cupping that mannequin’s chest like a sports bra.’ I suspected that the shirt was pinned in the back, to emphasize the slim fit, but when I went around back, I saw this:

I was expecting one pin, but there were five. FIVE! The mannequin would be more free to move if it were wearing a corset!

This jacket also struck me as ridiculously fitted (the horizontal fold that extends all the way around to the front button was a giveaway):

It had four pins. And it was taken in so much I could fit my entire hand in the gap, like it was a pocket:

Pinning clothes on mannequins is nothing new. I’ve been seeing it for years and years. There have been times when I’ve walked around stores and removed all the pins from all the mannequins and left them in a neat little pile in a dressing room. But four or five pins, stretching most of the way up the back, seems exceptionally outrageous. It terribly misrepresents the clothes, and, as a consumer, I feel alienated.

When I saw the four pins in the jacket and the five pins in the polo, I got pissed, because all I could think about was this: If these clothes don’t fit to the retailer’s satisfaction on an idealized, sculpted, perfect human torso, then WHO THE HELL ARE THESE CLOTHES DESIGNED FOR?

You’d think my indignation would prompt me storm out of the Banana Republic Outlet Store in a huff (I’m pretty good at leaving a room in a huff, it’s built into my genetic code), but I have to confess that I didn’t. In fact, I even purchased something: a black zip-up sweater that was really comfortable and 50% off (it was not displayed on a mannequin – if it were, I probably would’ve walked on by):

So much for making a stand by walking out empty-handed!

My four-hour shopping extravaganza ended up destroying my day’s workout plans. The plan was to be in my can by 6pm, so I could drive the hour back home and make it to the pool at 7pm, and get a good swim in before the pool closed at 8:30.

But I didn’t end up leaving the outlets until 8:15. So much for the pool. But I am nothing if not flexible, so I decided to go straight home, change, and head out for a run.

That didn’t happen according to plan either, because I turned on the TV to listen to the news while I changed, and ending up staying on the couch to watch 2 more shows. At 11:15pm I forced myself to get a move on, so I begrudgingly laced up my shoes and headed out for a run. I was tired and I felt sloppy and slow, but after a while it did feel good to move. I avoided looking at the clock for the entire run, and hoped that I would run for about 40 minutes.

I exceeded my goal by fifteen minutes! Here are the RunKeeper stats:

Fifty-five minutes! Over five miles! And I ran past the library, so I was able to return a book!

Remember the star that I made using my GPS during my last run? (Click here to see it)  I ended up running by the huge, empty parking lot at Macy’s, and decided to try a bigger, more complex design: I tried to run a path that would spell out my name as my GPS tracked it.

The “A” could use some work, but I’d say I was pretty successful!



4 Responses to Outrage at the Outlets

  1. I never noticed the pinning on the maniniquins before, that is so misleading!

    Awesome on running your name, haha. Love that!

  2. Brian Leonard says:

    I too have a love/hate relationship with BR. For years, I was annoyed that they never made carried my sizes (especially here in Canada). Now I can fit into their polos (uhh…not the fit ones), so when they are on sale, it’s a guilty pleasure.

    Love your blog and updates. Quite inspiring.


  3. Bev says:

    While I understand your ire (and 5 pins is ridiculous) there are many reasons for pinning: wrong size garment, mannequin is an unhuman shape and size etc. . I work at a plus sized clothing store and we have plus sized mannequins that are built from an actual woman’s measurements but not all garments fit her properly just like they don’t fit all women the same . . . and she’s plastic . . . she doesn’t fill the clothes like a normal person would. . . that said . . . I believe there use of pinning is, as you suggested, to make the garment look most flattering on a mannequin that I don’t believe has a particularly real body shape!!!

  4. Heather says:

    That obscene number of pins might be because outlets get a LOT of stuff that was cut wrong, etc. Or they make lower quality clothing at a cheaper price specifically for the outlet. So the clothes aren’t really banana republic quality at that great price, it’s stuff the BR Factory ran off as outlet gear, or stuff that was misaligned in the cutter. If it says outlet or factory on the tag, it’s a lower quality; if it has an original store tag, it is either overstock or a bad run.

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