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BIG AND EXTRA TALL MEN GRIPE ABOUT ILL-FITTING CLOTHES; SPECIALTY CATALOGS SEEK TO ADDRESS GRIEVANCES

      BIG AND EXTRA TALL MEN GRIPE ABOUT ILL-FITTING CLOTHES;
           SPECIALTY CATALOGS SEEK TO ADDRESS GRIEVANCES
    DALLAS, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Big and extra tall men feel like members of a "lost community" that has been forgotten by apparel manufacturers.  They complain of "that short shirted feeling," "armholes cut for oak trees," "skimpy collars," "sleeves that end near the elbow." They resent the premium paid for clothes purchased in specialty stores. They hate euphemistic labelling such as husky or portly.
    These gripes surfaced in focus group sessions sponsored by JCPenney Catalog as part of its ongoing research into this market.  Penney's is attempting to remedy these wrongs through a specialty catalog for big and extra tall men, which they began publishing in 1972.
    The truth of the complaints is often apparent.  Big and extra tall men wear shirt sleeves rolled up or sweater sleeves pushed up, not because this looks cool and casual, but rather because the sleeves do not reach their 36" or 37" length arms.  Collars are left open because even button extenders do not enable them to close their shirts comfortably around 18" or greater neck sizes.  They stand up to reveal shirt tails that pull out of their pants or shirt pleats that creep up above the waist band.  Those who have managed to buy collars or sleeve lengths to fit, display circus tent cuts to their shirts that leave room for fifty more pounds than they have.  Others reveal button holes straining across the stomach when they sit down.  Large thighs pull the crease out of pants unless these have been bought so big that the waist band gaps open by several inches.  The rise on pants is either so short as to be painful, or so long as to drop the crotch somewhere near the knees.  Men who are both big and extra tall wonder why big clothes are mainly available in short height sizes.
    Respondents of the Penney-sponsored research ranged in height from 5'8" to 6'8" and in weight from 175 pounds to 325 pounds with a correspondingly wide range of body proportions in between.
    Their most prevalent gripe was inconsistency in sizing followed by lack of stylish clothing available in large sizes.  Both body types believe their clothes are more at risk from shrinkage than clothes in regular men's sizes.  "Forget about tee shirts," one man grumbled, "they shrink up to nothing."  "One washing," groused another, "and my shirts become nightshirts for my wife."  Some blame short tailors or the importation of garments from countries such as Taiwan, Korea or Mexico that are cut with smaller bodies in mind.  Virtually all talked of the inequality of attention paid to apparel in regular men's and large women's sizes.  "Why do ladies' stores have sizes like 32, 34, 36, and we have to have 3XL instead of 52?" lamented one frustrated shopper.
    The apparel in JCPenney's specialty catalog is sized to fit big and extra tall men in the same manner clothes are sized to fit people in the median range.  (Only 7 percent of adult males in the U.S. fall into the big and extra tall category, but in terms of dollar volume the market is growing at the rate of 7 percent annually.)  We're making concerted efforts to respond to the gripes of this special market," says Howard Nash, marketing programs manager for JCPenney Catalog.  "This means more stylish clothing, longer inseams, longer sleeves, less disproportion between girth and length, clearer information on measurements."
    In tandem with the latest edition of its Big and Extra Tall Men's Catalog, JCPenney is sponsoring a nationwide sweepstakes in its 1,300 stores from Jan. 12 to Feb. 8.  Twenty-five winners will each receive a $1,000 wardrobe from the catalog.  Issued twice yearly, JCPenney's Big & Extra Tall Men's Catalog can outfit men with sleeve lengths up to 38", neck sizes up to 20", waists to 54", and chest sizes to 56".  The catalog may be ordered by calling toll free 1-800-222-6161.
    -0-             1/7/92
    /CONTACT:  Peggy Healy of JCPenney, 214-591-1331/ CO:  JCPenney ST:  Texas IN:  REA SU:  PDT PS -- NYFNS2 -- 7143 01/07/92 07:34 EST
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 7, 1992
Words:692
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