Fat tails

There’s a recent article up at Slate spin-off DoubleX that does a nice job explaining some practical consequences of statistics in the real world.

Seems several major retailers have recently stopped carrying women’s plus sizes. At first blush it sounds odd at best — we don’t want your business, ladies. But it’s actually an economically motivated decision, due to the fact that 1) fabric represents the greatest part of production costs and 2) the probability distribution of women’s weights has a fat tail, meaning there are many different plus sizes. The plus market is spread out over lots of sizes, each of which is expensive to make and, compared to smaller sizes, relatively unpopulated — even though the total plus market may be sizeable.

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One Response to Fat tails

  1. jwambaugh says:

    Ann has always complained that smaller-sized clothes cost the same as larger. In some stores it can be 3-4 times the material at the same cost. Perhaps rather than eliminating larger sizes a variable cost depending on the amount of fabric should be used.

    PS: Massive credit for the post title.

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