When it comes to plus-size fashion, sometimes shopping for clothes in-person can make people feel much more at ease than shopping online. But the reality is, there aren’t that many brands to choose from, so when you’re trying to decide where to spend your hard-earned dollars, it can be tough. This is why before heading into a store, it’s important to be educated, so you can have an easier shopping experience. Recently I headed out to Canada’s own plus-size boutique, Addition Elle and compared it against the American retail chain, Torrid which was formerly owned by Hot Topic. Yeah, they both sell plus-size clothes and for the most part, have fairly similar offerings, but fundamentally what are the differences between these two retail chains? Well, a lot actually!
Let the battle of the stores begin!
For the sake of transparency sake, I went to visit the Addition Elle and Torrid locations both located near the Toronto Eaton Centre.
Recently, this Addition Elle location I visited underwent a renovation, which gives off a more modern and Scandinavian feel to the store. Think natural wood flooring, green plants, white walls, and stunning furniture.
While the look and feel of Additional Elle may have changed, the atmosphere has not. Staff still is fully present offering help with personal styling or bra fittings, which totally makes me feel seen, valued and attended to. The changerooms are also nice and roomy, with good lighting. Finally, someone has heard our cries for good changeroom lighting.
Over at Torrid, the store is roughly half the size of Addition Elle, and has a similar look and feel to Hot Topic. Okay, maybe it’s a bit brighter, but not by much. Walking through Torrid is almost like trying to navigate a maze: there are racks everywhere, clothes no matter where you turn, and it’s quite overwhelming. I’m guessing this has a lot to do with the size of the store and the layout. Other Torrid locations I have been to, which are larger, feel nothing like this but this store gives me anxiety. Hey, at least the change rooms are comfortable and big!
So prior to Torrid launching in Canada, the plus-size brand was already quite popular with Canadians, which according to the Globe and Mail accounted for more than half of Torrid’s international business online. Now in the store, you can find everything you would find online, but the pricing hurts.
The Canadian prices are apparently to offset the exchange rate, but man does it feel like a fat tax sometimes. Throughout the store, you’re going to find lots of trendy garments in sizes 12-26, some wide-calf footwear, undergarments, beauty products, and accessories.
A lot of times, I find when I’m browsing through Torrid, it can be really hit or miss.
Sometimes the offerings can be really great, and sometimes you’ll find something that just leaves you questioning everything. The racks have tons of looks ranging from casual chic, to sexy dresses, and every so often there’s a nod to the retailer’s Hot Topic-inspired past. The pieces I have picked up from Torrid, I have loved, but it’s never been a sure-fire win for me.
It’s hard to believe that I have been shopping at Addition Elle since I was a teenager, and I have seen many changes with the brand over time with some being good, and some questionable.
Recently the brand announced Andy Thê-Anh as its new design director, and that they would be bringing in labels like Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Body Glove, New Balance, Aldo Shoes, Lucky Brand, and Girlfriend Collective as exclusive partnerships into plus sizing.
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I have to admit, wandering through the store felt different than when I was a teen. The racks had options that were actually hip and cool, but also fashion-forward. Now don’t get it twisted, I still spotted a few items that were in animal print or gave me some mom vibes. But that’s okay because the store has done a total 180 from what I remember. Plus, Addition Elle recently expanded the line to sizes 10-5X and slashed prices so it’s way more affordable. Like, WAY more affordable! Don’t believe me, check out the website for yourself.
Customer Service/Return Policy:
So I’m not going to lie, I had great customer service experiences at both Torrid and Addition Elle, so I really can’t critique the stores on that. When I visited the stores, the sales associates in-store were so kind and helpful. Knowing when to compliment me, and when to offer helpful suggestions. So honestly if you’ve ever felt worried about shopping, period. You’re in good hands at either store.
Torrid has a pretty extensive return policy, for items purchased in the store or online. First and foremost, you have to have the packing slip or receipt, or else you can’t get a return. An associate may be able to process an exchange for you, but no promises. Right now, the item must be received within 60 days of the purchase date listed on your receipt.
Over at Addition Elle, the policy isn’t as great.
If you order something online or purchase it in-store, you have 30 days (from purchase) to return any unworn, unwashed, unaltered item(s) with the price ticket(s) still attached, to receive a full refund. The retailer also offers a 60-day defect policy for any items that may break or tear, which its Customer Service team handles directly.
The Final Verdict:
I’ve got to be honest here, I have to go with my hometown team and give it to Addition Elle. During my last visit, as I browsed through the racks, the person working that day told me about an upcoming workshop with a local artisan who made body positive art. I never ended up going, but I was just so impressed that Addition Elle was really reaching out into their community to do more for their community, and be more.
Plus, the fact that it lowered prices and brought in some new labels that are known (and loved) by the plus-size community had me super excited for the future of Addition Elle. If you haven’t been to one of the stores recently, or haven’t browsed the website: do it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Featured Image: StyleDemocracy
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