Nearly 20 years ago today, Hall of Fame Alabama coach Bear Bryant and USC’s Lane Kiffin opened their first (of many) plus-sized women’s clothing stores, Lane Bryant. “It was high time someone got real about REAL women,” the all-time winningest college coach said at the store’s grand opening. He added, “So with the help of my buddy Lane here, we’ve decided to go ahead and confront the notion that women have to be these skinny little minnies.”
“Free yourself, ladies,” Bryant shouted to the eager crows of buxom, towering females, congregating outside the store before it’s opening.
The franchise, which has since become the world’s foremost supplier of big and tall women’s apparel, initially focused on making women feel comfortable about their bodies when shopping. “Too often the shoppers come away feeling insufficient,” former Oakland Raiders’ head coach Lane Kiffin said. “And who can blame them — with labels like ‘large’ or ‘x-tra large’ or ‘wide’,” he added. “I’m on the verge of tears just thinking about it.”
“Let’s say I’m looking for a dress,” Bryant said in a raspy voice. “And I’m maybe a little on the tall side. Maybe I just had a baby. Why should I be subjected to the judging gaze of some skinny little snot working the fitting room,” he continued, under the shade of his trademark houndstooth hat. “Me and Lane just thought, gee, why not just hire black guys? So we did — because they’re very, VERY nice to grand gals.”
The store, which was staffed entirely with African-American men, did exceedingly well until the two coaches decided to sell their stake to a woman. “Me and Bear know how women feel,” Kiffin said. “But we just thought it was time to give the reigns to, ya know, a woman,” he added.
“A tall, rotund, woman.”