By  on June 14, 2007

Calvin Klein Jeans wants to tap into an underserved consumer segment by expanding into the plus-sized market.

Patricia Royak, president of Calvin Klein Jeans, said the new plus-sized offering draws its inspiration from Calvin's misses' collection and will share a brand aesthetic similar to the core Calvin Klein product range.

"[This consumer] wants the exact same product as her counterparts in the missy division," Royak said. "She doesn't want something that's buttoned-up and very traditional"

The prevalent thinking among brands and retailers regarding plus-sized customers has been that they are more conservative in their style choices. Not so anymore, Royak said.

"The whole attitude of this zone has changed," she said.

Consumer research found that women were increasingly comfortable with their body image and were being presented with few options for more stylish apparel. That's a niche Calvin Klein Jeans believes it can accommodate.

Research also revealed special characteristics of the plus-sized consumer that made it even more appealing for Calvin Klein. These women devote considerably more time scouring magazines and catalogues for stylish apparel and fashion tips that apply to them, Royak said. As a result, they tend to be intensely loyal to those brands and retailers that are meeting their needs. Response rates to direct mailings and catalogues can be double the rate of those for misses' products.

The expansion is also a recognition that average sizes for women are increasing.

"The average size of a woman last year was 14. This year it has increased to 16," Royak said. "There is a plus-sized consumer out there for this product with Calvin Klein"

Judging by the early response to the line, retailers appear to be recognizing the need to better address the segment. Calvin Klein had targeted distribution of 125 doors for the initial launch. However, the line will be in about 300 doors when it begins shipping at the end of the month.

The collection will consist of three core styles, including a flare, a boot-cut and a skinny-leg style, and targets women between the ages of 25 and 35. A wide-leg style is to launch for the holiday season. Jeans will retail for $79 to $99, and tops will average $69. Calvin Klein Jeans intends to extend into other product categories such as knits and woven tops and sweaters."We will be able to continue to demand more categories within her lifestyle," Royak said.

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