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The Limited is carving out room for Eloquii in its brick-and-mortar space.

This story first appeared in the April 25, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Eloquii, the large-size division launched last fall, opened a shop-in-shop in The Limited’s newly renovated 6,130-square-foot store in Troy, Mich., at the Somerset Collection earlier this month. That will be followed by five shops-in-shop in Limited stores within the Detroit market, and others in Indianapolis, Chicago, Washington, St. Louis and Baton Rouge, La., within the next two months.

“We first launched Eloquii in response to Limited’s customers asking for additional size ranges. We are once again listening to her comments in our stores, on our Facebook page and our Web site,” said Linda Heasley, chief executive officer of The Limited.

The brick-and-mortar maneuver is being taken further. “We’ve engaged a design firm to help us with a design for Eloquii stand-alone stores,” Heasley added. “We’ll test a couple of freestanding stores next year. But I wanted to test a shop-in-shop environment first,” to gauge consumer reactions to the set up.

In some stores, large sizes get buried. But that won’t be the case at The Limited, Heasley stressed. At the Somerset store, she pointed out, Eloquii is in the front, has a window, its own signage and its own hangers, and about 1,000 square feet of space. There are about 70 stockkeeping units and iPads to help customers see the rest of the Eloquii collection. “We are able to accommodate a great branded presence without taking away from The Limited,” Heasley said.

She said it was important for Eloquii to be properly presented in stores, because large-size women generally find shopping for their sizes to be a miserable experience. “When we were studying what was in the marketplace, we found the options were terrible. When it’s relegated to spots next to pots and pans, or displayed on mannequins with stupid wigs, it’s offensive. Our idea is to give her an incredible experience and make it fun for her. We’re giving her a boutique feel. It’s not crowded or cramped. It’s very tasteful. This customer is anxious to be given a great experience. Her options are not great right now.”

Heasley said prices on the large sizes are close to prices on the regular ones, perhaps $3 or $4 higher per item. The Eloquii collection, she added, breaks the stereotypes of what’s appropriate or not for larger women. “She’s been conditioned to think she can’t wear prints, horizontal stripes, skinny jeans or belts. We are telling her that’s not true. Pencil skirts are one of our bestsellers. So are skinny jeans, especially the white ones.”

Tops are priced $29 to $79; pants, $70 to $100; dresses, $80 to $190, and jackets, $98 to $170.

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