By and  on December 28, 2000

NEW YORK -- Sometimes, the standard small, medium and large just won't cut it.

In an effort to suit up women of all shapes and sizes, activewear makers are developing more flattering fits and taking a closer look at their sizing. That's an advancement, considering it was enough for many brands to make women's activewear simply downsized offerings of their men's apparel, just a few years ago.

Lucy.com, The Weekend Exercise Co. and Danskin now realize that offering consumers good-fitting items helps build their customer base.

Kimiko Matsuda, apparel fit specialist for Lucy.com, said, "Many consumers apparently feel that it's about time. With the influx of women-specific activewear, women are demanding more than ever that product be built for their bodies."

Lucy.com, an e-tailer, mail-order house and retailer catering to female sport enthusiasts, is addressing the fit problem by providing more online information about its more than 1,300 offerings, and by introducing a private label line, which bows in April with a plus-size collection.

The impetus for developing private label was the numerous women who voiced their fit problems online, said Kathleen McNally, design director for the collection. Informed that many women were having trouble finding basics, especially shorts and pants, Lucy.com developed them in different lengths.

Consisting of 10 styles, the collection includes looks for a variety of shapes and sizes, thanks to non-traditional fitting and wear-testing.

"In addition to our fit models, we also have access to a wide array of body types right here in our office," she said. "There are lots of active women who work here and they have become our instant testers for the new collection."

In addition to offering two different lengths of pants -- tall and short -- the entire offering comes in sizes extra small to extra large, among other features to improve fit, McNally said.

"We've eliminated as much excess fabric on the garments as we could, especially at the waist and hips," she said.

Fit specialist Matsuda noted that the company has turned its attention to fit because "that's what women who have written to us have asked for."

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