TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

NY Times:  More Fabric, More Money? Retailer Accused Of Charging ‘Fat Tax’

New York Times, More Fabric, More Money? British Retailer Is Accused of Charging ‘Fat Tax’:

Size is a sensitive subject in the clothing business. So when one of Britain’s most popular and affordable clothing giants was found to charge more for plus-size clothing, it was accused of imposing a “fat tax” on women.

The pricing by the store, New Look, revived a debate over whether the use of more fabric for the same outfit should logically cost more.

The controversy erupted when a New Look customer, Maria Wassell, said she discovered that a pair of green-striped trousers cost 15 percent more in all sizes above 16 (the equivalent of a Size 12 in the United States), which are considered plus sizes in Britain. (Even the phrase “plus size” is problematic to some, who argue that the industry’s labels are unrealistic.)

Ms. Wassell, 43, a retail supervisor from Kent, in southeast England, also discovered that a T-shirt and dress in standard sizes were cheaper than identical versions in the plus-size section, according to the local news media. ...

Outraged social media users tossed in all sorts of comparisons: Should people with bigger feet be charged more for shoes? And, perhaps more to the point: Should petite people be charged less? ...

New Look is not the only retailer to come under fire for pricing clothes according to size. In 2014, Old Navy was criticized for charging higher prices for plus-size clothing for women, but not for men.

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It's not so much the raw material cost as it is the fewer units sold at odd sizes. Production run setup is expensive, and the more units that cost is spread across, the cheaper. Common sizes will be cheaper to make, per unit. Basic process engineering 101. It's the "secret" of Henry Ford and production lines. Duh.

Posted by: ruralcounsel | May 22, 2018 4:01:48 AM