In Depth

New Look accused of ‘fat tax’ on plus-size clothes

Retailer vows to review pricing system after online backlash

High-street retailer New Look has been accused of charging customers more for plus-sized clothing, a practice some critics refer to as a ‘fat tax’.

The controversy began when a shopper, 43-year-old Maria Wassell from Ashford, Kent, went public with her displeasure after spotting the apparent discrepancy while browsing the clothing store’s website.

Comparing the prices of identical items in the shop’s main range and in its size-16-and-up section, Curves, Wassell found that New Look was “charging an extra 15% for plus-size trousers compared to an identical pair in its standard range”, the Daily Mail reports.

The gap was even wider on some other items. “A red floral dress, which last night was being sold for £24 in the Curves range, cost £18 for an apparently identical standard version,” The Times reports.

Wassell added that the apparent surcharge on the overweight did not reflect reality in 21st-century Britain.

“It's like I'm being discriminated against for being plus-size when I'm only slightly bigger than average,” she said. “'The average size for a British woman is now a size 16.”

Many plus-sized customers shared her concern that the pricing structure was unfairly targeting and stigmatising the overweight:

However, others were baffled by the outrage, arguing that the price increase simply reflected the increased cost of materials, rather than a judgement on overweight people.

Wassell, who works in the clothing industry, says that the excuse doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

“The trousers in their tall range, which would also require more fabric, are the same price as the normal ones,” she said.

The chain has vowed to review its pricing practices “to ensure pricing differences like these don't happen in future”.

“We are proud of the ranges we offer to our plus size customers and value all customers, no matter what their body shape or size,” it said.

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