Hey H&M! Remember When I Used to Like You?

When I lived in Montreal I was a regular (actually, too regular) shopper at H&M. I used to swing in for a browse between classes or on my way to catch the Metro home and always found versatile pieces-many of which I still have in my closet. I loved that I could stay up to date with the cutest hottest trends at an affordable cost. But then things changed when I moved to Vancouver.

I have been living in Vancouver for two years and since then my experiences at H&M have all been the same: pathetic. The three locations I regularly visited (note the past tense since I have no desire to visit the Vancouver stores anymore) were Coquitlam Centre, Metrotown and Pacific Centre. All three locations have the exact same problems that have annoyed and infuriated me to the point that I am typing this lament:

1.  The only sizes they stock are sizes 2-8, with the majority of items being size 2, 4, and 6. RARELY is a size 10 or 12 available. Size 14 is pretty much extinct or limited to clothing that ressembles a sack of potatoes.

2.  The customer service is despicable. I have been shoved numerous times by employees restocking the racks that cannot utter an “Pardon me” or “I’m sorry.” I have lost count how many times I have been waiting in line for the change room even when rooms are open or waited for assistance because the two associates were too busy gossiping about their coworkers, complaining about their job, or talking about their after-work plans. Completely unprofessional.

So why the sudden urge to post my dissatisfaction on this blog? I was downtown last week for a press event and had some spare time to quickly pop in to H&M. There were a few pieces that I had noted some of my favourite Vancouver fashion bloggers wearing and wanted to see them in person. The new collection was given its own display at the front of the store entrance for the mall and the shirts were particularly gorgeous. There were 20+ shirts for each design on the racks and as I sifted through hanger by hanger the sizing went  like this: 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2…And on and on it went until I reached the end of the rack. Every single item in the whole display was a size 2. I moved on to other sections of the store and I could not find a single item over a size 8. For anything.

But that is not what broke my heart. I can deal with not finding something I like in my size without my world coming crashing down. Beside me was a mother and her teenage daughter shopping and the daughter looked very dejected. She looked to be about a size 6 and was sorting through the clothes with mounting aggression. After a few moments she turned to her mother and said with tears in her eyes, “I want to leave. I hate this store, it makes me feel fat. Nothing fits me and they never have my size.” They left and I soon followed but the look in that girl’s eyes stayed with me all night. H&M is that the message that you want to perpetuate to young girls-that a size 6 is fat?

Online many of the sizes go up as far as 14-16/XL and when I go in to H&M stores when I travel this is never an issue. So what is going on? Is H&M in Vancouver stocking with demographic sizing? Are they intentionally snubbing curvier or more developed girls? Is the lacklustre customer service a cause or a symptom of customer dissatisfaction? The one thing I do know is that I have no desire to step foot in a Vancouver H&M despite all of the cute clothes. I always leave aggravated and berate myself for wasting more of my time.

I know I am risking a lot of fury by targeting such a beloved brand and store, but I just can’t hold it in anymore. I make a consolidated effort to keep negativety and pointless complaining off this blog but this is an issue that I personal felt had to be addressed. A brand cannot improve or meet consumer needs if they are never given performance feedback. I am not asking H&M to turn themselves in to a plus-sized brand (although 14 and 16s would be appreciated), but only for them to realize that the average woman fits more solidly in the 6-12 size bracket than the 2-4. Oh, and I smile and basic manners would be nice too.

That is all I have to say about that aside from I hope something changes soon.

Comments

  1. Sparkled Beauty says

    I don’t see the reason anyone would be mad at you. I like the well thoughts of the post. I can relate how it feels when we can’t find our size

  2. says

    Completely siding with you there, the only reason I can think of is the fact that the targeted group of shoppers in Van are young southeast asian girls, who are mostly, well, tiny..

    • says

      Yes, that is what made me suspect demographic sizing in the first place. I understand they have to stock according to consumer needs and demands, but that doesn’t mean that they have to do this at the expense of all other shoppers. I think they would profit more as a business if they had more versatile sizing.

  3. says

    That is absolutely terrible! Not to mention I find H&M sizing can be small in the first place! I can’t imagine how many poor young girls have gone into that store and left feeling the same way. That makes me sick.

    • says

      I’ve been getting emails since I posted this yesterday with stories sharing how this is not only a Vancouver issue. That makes me sadder because that means this is more ingrained in H&M’s retail strategy.

  4. Athena says

    We have the same issue here. Around this time last year H&M finally came to Denver CO. At the time I was way over weight and couldn’t find an XL to save my life lol but I was used to this with other stores so it didn’t really bother me, my sister who is more curvy and heavy chested was having the same issue so we only went in for shoes, accessories and clothing for the hubby and kids. Now cut to a week ago my sister, husband and I went to the other H&M in the mall (we now have two stores woohoo) I found one thing in a medium and about died it fit lol grant it, it was a vest but hey i’ll take what I can get lol. My sister however found a very cute dress and she’s been working out like I have so we have slimmed some. She went to try it on, and first it was her chest which was bigger and apparently not for this dress then the arms were an issue. Needless to say she through it back on the rack and said well I’m depressed and I wanna leave. I have yet to find a size large or XL ever in either store and we don’t have online shopping yet. I feel horrible for my sister and I was able to talk to her and set her at ease but she has decided to never shop there again :( I wish there was more we could do. Thank you for sharing your story cause my sister and I thought it was just us.

    • says

      Athena, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I feel more at ease knowing that it is not me being hypersensitive to sizing issues but I am more disheartened that this is a philosophy that H&M is perpetuating over North America (and possible internationally). I can completely relate to your sister. I have been struggling with my weight for years due to a complicated medical condition and the last thing I want is to feel even worse about myself when shopping for clothes–a woman’s right to free therapy! LOL!!

  5. Charlotte says

    London, UK, shops have the same issue – the H&M in both Whiteleys Notting Hill/Bayswater, and Oxford Circus are both rubbish with their teeny sizes (and oddly, only labelled s, m, and the odd l, but no real labelled sizes like 6-16) but the H&Ms elsewhere in London (including 400m down from the Oxford Circus branch near Tottenham Court Road), have normal sizes. Bizarre. I’ve rather gone off them as I’ve found their quality to be on par with Primark, which are less than half the price for the same sort of stuff, so tend to only go in if I have nothing better to do, which is very rare! My real issue though is that I’m a bit too tall for their clothes so they just don’t sit right anyway, no matter what size you pick up. Sigh, when will people start to realise that there is a whole group of people in between the normal height and the giant height… (I’m 5’10″ and have broad shoulders…)

    • says

      I know what you mean about the length of clothes. Many of the “dresses” barely skim my backside and I am only 5’7 !! Even wearing them with opaque tights would look off on me regardless of whether I wear it out or to work.

  6. says

    This is so funny Lydia, because I JUST got back shopping with my daughter and we stopped at H&M here in Edmonton. I remember when they first opened up here and there was a nice variety of sizes. NOW all there ever is on the rack are size 2 and 4s. My daughter is SLIM and that store makes her feel fat because she needs a size 8. WTF??? AND the other issue I have with that store is WHY DO THEIR SHOES ONLY GO UP TO SIZE 9??? What about those of us who have size 10 feet??? GRRRRRRrrrr.

    • says

      My shoe size ranges between a 9 and 10 as well depending on the fit but an H&M 9 feels like a mechanism for torture on my feet. You need really narrow feet to wear their shoes and I find them quite uncomfortable.

  7. says

    Sadly, it’s the same in my city too. I don’t even bother anymore because on the off chance I can find a size big enough, the cut is so awkward that it makes me feel stupid for even trying to wear their clothes. Last winter I found a coat I adored there, which was so random because I hadn’t been in an H&M for years, but it didn’t fit my chest in the “right” size (it’s not like I’m busty or anything!). Of course they had one a size up but that barely made a difference, unless you like a coat with a tight chest and massive sleeves. I know they’re supposed to be super stylish, but just because you’re not a size 2-4 doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish too! The biggest thing I noticed with their customer service was that the SAs seemed to want to help other customers more than my friend and I who were looking around – as if they thought we weren’t as likely to actually buy something.

  8. Alice says

    Sizing, availibility of such and target markets – thanks for bringing this up and blogging about your experiences.

    I was in H&M in Shanghai a few years ago and found quite a selection of sizes available, whereas the asian brands catering to that same demographic seemed to have the problem you experienced. But this may have changed.

    I feel like a lot of brands’ sizing have actually been getting larger over the years. A friend has a theory that by making us think we’ve lost weight or have gone down a dress size, the stores are manipulating us to buy (of course this could also be from companies suddenly realising that we are, in general, getting larger and taller). However, in contrast, some smaller more “exclusive” brands have consistently smaller sizing – I always leave feeling that they are for the thinner, “right” people. But not even having certain sizes available is just a step too far.

    It’s disappointing to hear this about H&M, we don’t have any in Australia (but rumour says we will). I wonder if this is a deliberate strategy to target a certain market segment.

  9. Alice says

    I always had the problem with H+M that nothing would fit my shoulders. And I know I’m wide, but not THAT wide. Certainly there are many girls bigger than me. Here in Halifax we have a decent size selection. I love the sailor shirts they have been doing recently and I wear large in them and have always found multiples in stock. But they only ever have up to a 12 in bottoms when I need/would feel more comfortable for work in a 14. But then I got some leggings in a print I loved, in a large and I could have taken medium. Vanity sizing. So stupid.

    I was happy to read this post. It was very well done and clearly an important issue. Good job!

  10. Adelina says

    I just visited H&M after a long time yesterday and ‘shockingly’, their awful sizing is still bloody there. I am always between a size 10 to 12(UK) but not being able to pull a size 12 skirt above the knee has left me gasping. Needless to say, I left disappointed and in quite a foul mood. Now I know this is a major problem everywhere. Too bad H&M don’t seem to want to know.

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