Monday 16 July 2012

An Open Letter to the Owners of Queue Clothing

This is the letter I have sent to the owners of Queue Clothing: 

Dear Mr. Devji,

My husband and I were in your store Queue this weekend, doing something we love to do - shop on Whyte Avenue. We love supporting local retailers, and the weather and Artwalk made for a great shopping day.

However something in your store struck a very powerful chord in both of us - your TITS display with the mannequin wearing a branded tee pushed up over her breasts with logoed pasties covering her non-existent nipples.

At first, I looked at it with a dismissive glance and walked away. I think my husband uttered the sarcastic words, "Classy."

But then I started to think about it more, and the more I did, the more I found it profoundly disturbing. So much so that I wrote this blog post about it. I am very concerned about the message it sends to your clientele, both men and women. As well as to the young men and women who work in your store.

I understand that sex sells. And I'm not against a little bit of cheekiness when it comes to arranging a display. But this display moves beyond cheeky into the realm of offensive and trashy. I expect more from a shop such as yours that sells high quality items. I also understand that the Sophia brand is named after your daughter. How do you feel, as a parent, showing off her brand (the logoed tee is a Sophia tee) on such a blatantly hyper-sexualized mannequin, one that calls to mind the sex industry? How does your daughter feel about her namesake brand being portrayed this way?

I went back to your store a second time to talk to your management about the display. The young woman I spoke with was lovely, and she admitted that she herself didn't love the display, but that it "was what the demographic wants."

I feel, that as the retailer, you are in a remarkably powerful position. You can choose how you wish to market your product, and ultimately how to brand yourself and your business. Both my husband and I know - we both work in marketing and are familiar with its power. You have the power to shape what your demographic wants. If you pander to the lowest common denominator (which is what you're presently doing), you're not only reinforcing the image of women as merely male-fantasy sex objects , you're also selling yourselves and your store very, very short.

With the power that you have as retailers, I believe you also have a responsibility to your demographic. You rely on them for sales, they look to you for image. If you present a sex-positive image in the form of female empowerment (one, which, by the way, does not involve stripper-inspired images) everyone wins. Your clients, both male and female, win because they're clothing themselves in a positive message. Your staff win because they're helping to perpetuate images of strength instead of weakness. And you win because you're supporting good - and making money, which are the two pillars of a community-based business such as yours. If you demand more (respect, integrity and, frankly, money - in that order) from your customers, you'll get it.

I have purchased items from your store in the past. I have browsed at your store in the past. I am professional and I have disposable income. I am exactly the kind of clientele you want. But without some change to your image, I will not set foot in your store again.

I am not alone. In just one day, my blog has received over 550 hits, and counting. I have received many messages of support over social media, and the message has been spread far and wide. Although I may be the only person to say something about this issue, I am not alone in being negatively affected by it. Everyone is negatively affected by images of disrespect. You need to know that people are influenced by these kinds of images - and the young men and women who think this kind of objectification is a joke, well, they are influenced most of all.

I urge you to reconsider this kind of imagery in your store.

If you would like to speak further about this issue, I'd be happy to have that conversation.


Marliss Weber


  1. Great letter! Definitely in agreement with you here. Sadly, the images of women in our society are often based on looks and sex. We should know better than this by now. I teach high school and am tired off the girls having no self-respect because of advertising.

  2. I worked for him before. They don't care about their staff at all. They care only about making money. You could work there for years and make one mistake and they fire you on the spot and love to make it as humiliating as possible. Good letter but this will be the next joke.

  3. Thanks for the support, both of you. I hope they respond to my letter. I'll keep you posted!

  4. This just in: Queue Clothing revised their display. No official response, but I'm happy to see the the change. That's what counts.

    Photo courtesy @nikkivandusen

  5. Great blog! I'm a faithful believer in moral and respect and completely disagree with their approach. I enjoy shopping at Queue, but if they continue to operate without integrity, I will not support their business. Let's hope for change!


  6. Thanks Don and Gloria. I think retailers and advertisers need to know when they've crossed a line, especially when that line is as muddy as it currently is. I'm glad for this one small change - I hope it continues, but it won't if retailers don't hear from consumers about it.