NEW YORK — The name of Eighties-era chain the Forgotten Woman captured the feelings of plus-size customers who felt overlooked by department and specialty stores. Today, plus-size clothing is a $17 billion market that few stores ignore. Tall women, however, still feel left behind and consider themselves to be the true forgotten consumer.
One of the few retailers catering to the constituency is Long Tall Sally, a U.K. brand for woman 5 foot 8 inches and taller. Long Tall Sally aims to provide a total wardrobe solution for tall customers with sportswear, work wear, formal wear, casual clothing, swimwear, shoes and accessories. “Our goal is to be the first choice in fashion for tall women worldwide,” said chief executive officer Andrew Chapin. “It’s a really difficult niche to do well. The biggest issue is fit. The greatest challenge is finding pants that fit. We sell a lot more bottoms than tops.”
Long Tall Sally last week opened a pop-up shop at 172 Duane Street in TriBeCa here. The retailer also introduced the initiative Stand Tall Week with a dedicated Web site and activities such as fashion presentations and film screenings.
Long Tall Sally, which operates 20 stores in the U.K., 10 in Canada and one each in Berlin, Düsseldorf and Hamburg, Germany, has two stores in the U.S., at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., and Detroit, Mich. It will open about two dozen pop-up shops in the U.S. this year, including units in Boston and Denver this week; Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, Charlotte, Portland and Dallas in May, and Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta and Santa Monica in June.
As it opens pop-up stores, Long Tall Sally is scouting space for permanent locations. “We’re actively looking for stores,” Chapin said of the company, which did sales of $10 million last year. “We would open a store in Manhattan. We do a good [Internet and catalogue] business in New York now.”
Retailers such as Ann Taylor and Banana Republic offer a small selection of tall sizes on their Web sites, but the offerings are heavy on pants and business attire. Long Tall Sally has a branded shoe business for sizes 10 to 13 with names such as Sam Edelman, Jessica Simpson, Franco Sarto, Nine West and Steve Madden. Fashion includes an Aztec border print maxi dress, $129, cotton sateen floral dress, $129, cargo capri pants, $79 and an unlined lace jacket, $115.
Chapin, who said some of Long Tall Sally’s customers are as tall as 6 foot 5 inches and 6 foot 6 inches, believes that tall women have been largely ignored because the market is much smaller than that of plus-sizes. “For retailers, it’s an afterthought,” he said. “Tall women only make up 3 percent to 5 percent of the population.”
Arianne Cohen, author of “The Tall Book: A Celebration of Life from on High,” was promoting her book at the pop-up shop last week. Cohen, who is 6 foot 3 inches, uncovered such esteem-building statistics about tall people as they earn $789 more per inch per year, are five times more likely to become ceo’s and are 8 percent smarter than their shorter counterparts. “My own experience was very challenging,” Cohen said. “I wore men’s pants through college. I had nowhere to buy clothes.”
“It’s frustrating to go through stores,” said Paula Mobley, an administrative law judge, who was shopping at Long Tall Sally. “I have a lot of things made for me. I’m 6 foot 3 inches and I wear four-inch heels.”