Hot Topic was founded in 1988 and quickly established itself as the go-to destination for music-inspired clothing and accessories in malls across the country. After Hot Topic founder Orv Madden retired from his role as CEO in the year 2000, Betsy McLaughlin stepped in and looked for new ways to grow the brand. In 2001, the company launched Torrid--a new line of stores that offer alternative plus-sized apparel for women. The first Torrid location opened in Brea, CA, and it was successful almost immediately.
In 2005, Torrid began to strengthen its unique brand identity when it started offering new product lines that were separate from clothes sold at Hot Topic. It also began to target a slightly different demographic based on the actual makeup of its customer base (with a new focus on young women aged 15-25 who wear sizes 12 to 28). Torrid also changed up its collection with a slightly more mainstream look in 2013. That same year, Hot Topic and its subsidiaries (including Torrid) were sold to the private equity firm Sycamore Partners. Today, there are more than 200 Torrid stores across the country. The brand prides itself on making plus-sized women feel sexy by offering on-trend clothing that is both stylish and flattering.
Torrid offers a range of plus-sized clothing in basically every major category. In tops, you can find t-shirts, graphic tees, tanks, blouses, tunics, henleys, bustiers, camis, kimonos, and button-down shirts. Light outerwear options include sweatshirts, sweaters, and cardigans. Jackets are made for both form and function, and they include styles like anoraks, bomber jackets, blazers, peacoats, and wraps. Dresses are available in styles like skater dresses, shirtdresses, bodycon dresses, halter dresses, party dresses, swing dresses, and more. Some dresses are designed specifically for going out, while others are more casual. The brand also has a large selection of rompers and jumpsuits. Like at Hot Topic, many of these products are available with licensed prints, but you can also find plenty of options that are made for general style.
In bottoms, Torrid offers leggings in several different colors (and many with prints and patterns). Joggers, trousers, and flare pants are also popular. You can find skirts in lengths that include mini, midi, and maxi. In denim, the brand offers 11 different fits of jeans--including standards like bootcut, relaxed fit, boyfriend, skinny, and more--and they are available in 38 unique washes. The brand prides itself on its selection of intimate options like bras, panties, bralettes, lingerie, shapewear, and hosiery. You can also find shoes and boots in sizes for wider feet and calves.
For decades, many of the brands geared toward plus-sized women have tried to shame their clientele by only offering unflattering styles that might fit, but are not fun to wear. Torrid has helped start a revolution when it comes to plus-sized shopping, on the other hand, because it is one of the few retailers to offer full-figured women the latest trends. In recent years, the brand has also drifted further away from Hot Topic to better target women with different senses of style--not just those interested in alternative clothing. We give Torrid 5 stars out of 5.