Blogger Nicolette Mason wearing Ava & Viv.

Target’s message of inclusivity is paying dividends in the retailer’s plus-size business. Growth for plus-size apparel is up 30 percent year-over-year through Jan. 2016. That includes Ava & Viv, the plus-size collection the the retailer launched last February.

Target’s marketing over the past year, has embraced body diversity, with a range of body types featured in the retailer’s swim wear campaign, including plus-size models, which has been driving awareness of the plus-size assortment and the Ava & Viv brand.

Rather than aim for a wide constituency of consumers — men, women, girls, boys and toddlers as Target-owned OneStar does, or cater to women and men like the proprietary Mossimo — Ava & Viv focuses solely on plus sizes. Target saw a void and stepped in to  grab a chunk of the rapidly growing $17.5 billion plus-size market.

Target has said that 10 of its owned brands, including Merona, Cherokee, Mossimo, Xhilaration, Circo and C9 by Champion each do at least $1 billion a year in sales. Ava & Viv aspires to be part of that pantheon.

Ava & Viv is seeing strength in denim with jeggings and skinny jeans, among other categories.

Bloggers have contributed to Ava & Viv’s success, a Target spokeswoman said. The retailer initially approached three plus-size bloggers when Ava & Viv launched. Nicolette Mason, a blogger for Marie Claire, GarnerStyle blogger Chastity Garner, and Gabi Gregg, who writes the Gabi Fresh blog. The three women gave suggestions to Target about how the Ava & Viv collection could be improved.

Target in January invited the bloggers back to its Minneapolis headquarters for a second look at how the collection was shaping up.  Mason was pleased to see that Target took her advice and shortened a jacket that was quite a bit longer, making it more cropped. Gregg suggested that Target add a lighter denim wash to the dark wash jeans it was producing.

“The bloggers are helping to drive awareness and their opinions have been taken into account as we developed the line,” the Target spokeswoman said. “The team is focused on the guest feedback. Plus-size guests want the same style as the guest who wears a regular rtw size. We attribute a lot of the growth of Ava & Viv to the guest-centric approach and ensuring the assortment is reflective of the trends.”

Much of the guest feedback comes courtesy of the bloggers, who share with Target their readers’ insights. “It’s a lot of anecdotal comments,” the spokeswoman said. “We continue to have conversations with the bloggers. Nicolette was in Palm Springs with us and Gaby and Chastity do things with us. They helped us launch the collection and as we worked with them, we certainly saw the benefits of their opinion and the feedback they share from their readers. That’s why we brought them back in January.”

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