Every woman in Addis has at some point in her life been told that clothes in her size were not available at a clothing store. Let alone a full figured woman like me, even skinny women have faced this problem.
Unfortunately, in Addis Ababa, the one problem a fashionista would face is not the lack of stylish or trendy outfits but getting ones that fits. You see, unlike other countries, we do not have department stores or brand outlets but a lot of boutique stores. Even though some locations like Merkato, Haya Hulet and Bole are full of these stores, not one and I say this with great saddness NOT one boutique has extended straight size or plus size clothing except, of course for the maternity stores.
Almost all the clothes in these boutiques are made in other countries and I know that each country has its own numbering system for clothing sizes but the store clerks in the boutiques insist on having “universal sized” clothing, when you ask them if they have something in your size. It is like their stores and clothing are special and different in some way – “one size fits all”. Give me a break! It is a total sham.
Thus, women have no choice but to purchase their clothes from outside of Ethiopia. If a woman doesn’t travel outside of the country, all she can do is catalog or magazine shopping. This, in case you were wondering, entails gracious family members and friends sending clothes, shoes and accessories from all over the world, that you picked out from catalogs or magazines. Other women just pick out the latest trends and have their favorite tailor or local fashion designer duplicate the style to their size.
Why have we resorted to this? Take my case, for instance, I am feed up of being frustrated every time I went shopping for clothes. I have lost count of the many times I have left a store practically in tears and empty-handed?
The worst experiences I have had were when I was shopping for a New Year’s cocktail party dress in 2009 and the time I was shopping for my wedding dress. In 2009, I went to a boutique that specialized in party attire and the store clerk just took one look at me at the door, walked up to me and said in the most rudest and condescending tone, “We don’t carry your size.” I was crushed and totally embarrassed. I was a size 12 then. The second incident happened about a year ago, while shopping for my wedding dress, it was a total nightmare. I went to dozens and dozens of stores. It was one of the most heartbreaking experiences ever. I was told at one of the bridal stores that I need to get at least 3 dress sizes down before they could help me. When something like that happens, I usual end up leaving the area or mall with a ridiculous amounts of cosmetic products, shoes and handbags that I don’t need but just because they fit and I’m in a bad mood.
I finally decided that my shopping experience doesn’t have to be that way, so I started searching for stores that were more welcoming and would be able to bring clothes that fit me. Then, one day I did find one. This store has plenty of body love inducing, self-confidence boosting clothes. It was like the fashion planets finally aligned with my budget and body.
I have put a lot of thought into it and have tried to find an adequate reason as to why the clothing stores in Addis don’t carry larger sizes. Is there a stigma that I am unaware of towards larger sized women? Are larger women as a whole viewed in society as not acceptable and not needing cute clothes? If you start marketing to a larger size group will you will be known as “catering to those that are larger and can’t fit the smaller sizes like they should”?
No matter what their reasons are, their focus should have been about their customers’ needs rather than expecting every single woman to fit the same mannequin size. Stores in Addis should cater to all women, not just small or medium sized ones.
I think we all DESERVE to feel chic and confident everyday. We should be able to wear what we want and not feel embarrassed or ostracized for being different.
I’d love to hear your opinion on this. What are your shopping frustrations, fashion struggles, etc.? Your thoughts and questions are welcome.
Images via Google