Q. What exactly makes the name XL more palatable than Big and Tall?
A. It is strong. It exudes confidence. Whereas big and tall is like, 'I am a freak.'
Other tidbits from the interview include a discussion of the travails of getting "premier" clothing labels to manufacture (or license the manufacture of) large sizes:
I find Mr. Levin's cynicism breathtaking. In an earlier interview with the Boston Globe, he said:
Q. Casual Male XL has persuaded elite brands to manufacture big and tall sizes. Why did it take them so long?
A. These brands do a lot of aspirational, inspirational-type branding. To see it on a big size — they don't want to go there. It took us a year to work with Reebok, to have them shop our stores and realize that a lot of these customers are jocks themselves. These were football players and basketball players so why would you not try to continue the brand heritage into those sizes?
Q: You recently changed the name of stores from Casual Male Big & Tall to Casual Male XL. Why such a fuss over a few letters?It's wonderful for David Levin's wallet, I'm sure, that he has figured out how to sell clothes to overweight men without forcing them to admit that they are overweight. But what about tall guys? Casual Male retail stores do not stock any pants with inseams longer than 36 or waist sizes smaller than 44.
A: The big and tall market is a $6 billion business. It was puzzling why our market share -- at $430 million -- was so small. We got a focus group together of men those sizes who never shopped at Causal [sic] Male. We asked them what their perception was and it was alarming. They thought we didn't carry their sizes, that we don't have their brands, and that our clothes are for older men. When we asked them about the big and tall market, they said: 'We're not those guys. Those are obese guys, overweight guys.'
Q: But these sound like big and tall men. Aren't they?
A: Even though at a 42- or 44-inch waist, they are pretty big guys, it's a matter of self-perception. Today, we don't think we're as old as we are, as big as we are. We don't look in the mirror and see ourselves that way. Lazy, fat, and unmotivated were what they associated with the words big and tall. XL, though, that's powerful, that's masculine. So the light bulb went off.