Long overlooked by major retailers and brands, the plus-size market is finally getting some attention.
Next month, The Limited launches eloquii by The Limited, a division catering to full-figured women with designs “in the same spirit” as the main chain. “There will definitely be a common sensibility between the two brands,” Linda Heasley, chief executive officer of The Limited, told WWD exclusively.
And Charming Shoppes Inc. has a new online system, making it easier to size up plus-size customers and steer them to appropriate fits and styles. “They’re the most underserved and marginalized population in apparel,” said Bill Bass, president of Charming Shoppes Direct, discussing the plight of plus-size women.
According to Heasley, many stores do sell clothes for full-figured women, who account for 50 percent of the U.S. female population. The problem is the assortments “lack choice relative to fashion.…Women don’t want to be relegated to wearing a tent or a muumuu. They don’t want something dumbed down. She wants a miniskirt that’s tasteful and appropriate and pushes a fashion viewpoint. Eloquii is about amazing clothes for a figure you can celebrate.”
Eloquii will target professional women, 25 to 34 years old, just as Limited does, and step out with trend pieces such as one-shoulder and strapless dresses, leather bombers and belted capes, Heasley said. “We’ve created a wardrobe that’s broad — that will get her through the day, into the evening, and for her to have fun on the weekend. We are moving her toward a lifestyle.”
Aside from sportswear and dresses, accessories will be part of the eloquii offering and “proportioned appropriately,” Heasley promised, with straps, for example, that are longer than they would be in a misses’ counterpart. Footwear is on the drawing boards for next year. “You will see it’s a sister brand” to Limited, Heasley said, adding that some of the prints will be the same as what Limited offers, though re-scaled.
The Limited has been selling up to size 14 clothes in its stores, and as large as size 16 and 18 online, and will continue to do so at least for awhile. It’s how the company learned that plus-size women want to see more fashion and convinced it to start a separate division. “She’s been very vocal about what she likes and doesn’t like,” Heasley said. “Fifty percent of the American female population is at least a size 12,” Heasley said. “She has been under served. She wants the same things her skinny friends get.”
Eloquii’s size range is 14W to 24W, and the price range is dresses, $89.90 to $148; blazers, $98 to $168; pants, $69.90 to $89.90, and tops, $29.90 to $69.90.
Eloquii will launch online Oct. 26 at www.eloquii.com, and is planning to open stores next year, possibly in the third quarter. The company has hired Jodi Arnold as vice president of design for eloquii. She previously designed her own label, and collaborated on designs for Limited for spring and fall 2011. Her first eloquii collection will be spring 2012.
Also, plus-size fashion blogger GabiFresh will be the voice of eloquii for the launch.
Charming Shoppes, in conjunction with Zafu technology, has been first to develop online surveys for tops, bottoms and bras, each involving 10 to 20 questions (some of a very personal nature) and taking about three minutes to fill out. It’s called Fashion Genius and is geared to determine a woman’s body type and style preferences, and then automatically suggest items that look and fit the best.
Fashion Genius is powered by an algorithm that took months to build and involved 10,000 in-person fittings of bras, pants and tops and 1.25 million survey answers. While the technology and effort behind the survey are complicated, the intent is not. It’s just all about getting to the customer base better.
For example, shoppers are asked: “Which bra style is preferred: demi cup, balconette, full coverage, plunge, sexy or sport?” “How do cups fit? Do they spill at the bottom, at the top, on the sides, do the bras fit fine? How much do your breasts sag with a bra? Have you ever had the underwire break?”
Shoppers are also asked: “Where do you carry most of your weight — tummy, tummy and bust, hips, thighs and seat, evenly upper and lower body?” And, “How do your jeans fit? Do they gape at the hips? How would you describe your seat? Flat, proportionate, prominent/high, or full and wide?” The survey is adaptive, meaning how a woman answers a question determines the next question to pop up.
So far, tens of thousands of large women have taken the survey, launched earlier this month, according to Charming. It’s on catherines.com, fashionbug.com, cacique.com, and sonsi.com, which are all divisions of Charming. Not surprisingly, eloquii will feature a “shape my style” tab to provide styling suggestions based on body types, similar to Charming’s format.
According to Charming, 93 percent of plus-size women want to conceal their tummy; 63 percent want to conceal their arms, and 65 percent report problems with jeans and pants gaping at the waist. Only one in eight are happy with the fit of their bras, with cup shape, shoulder strap and band lines cited as major issues. Plus-size women also avoid certain silhouettes and patterns, particularly stripes and narrow-leg pants. As Bass said, “Searching for apparel online has been a frustrating hit or miss experience, lacking the personalization necessary for finding clothes that fit.”
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion