Consensus Advisors presented the next great consumer brands at a conference at the Nasdaq marketplace in New York City and by the looks of it, it’s going to be hip to be big-hipped.
The body-positive movement is resonating with brands and customers alike. Almost every apparel brand spoke about its efforts to include larger sizes, a group that used to be considered as an afterthought.
“What was clear is, this customer, the Lane Bryant customer, a plus-sized customer, really has been ignored by fashion,” said David Jaffe, chief executive officer of Ascena Retail Group Inc., the owner of Lane Bryant. He said most department stores house larger sizes in a tucked-away piece of store real estate and some designers refuse to design for larger sizes.
“We realized this customer may be feeling like a second-class citizen,” said Jaffe. He talked about the “I’m No Angel” campaign for Cacique lingerie, which is the lingerie label of Lane Bryant. He pointed out that the sexy images of larger women resonated with customers and had gone viral. The ad received 20 billion impressions and won awards.
“We’re leading the conversation about what it is to be sexy. What it is to be fashionable,” said Jaffe. “It’s got nothing to do with size. Our brand awareness went up and our traffic, both to our stores as well as online, both went up.“
Modcloth is an online apparel retailer whose sizes go up to 4x. “Inclusivity in fashion is almost a misnomer, but it’s important to us,” said Modcloth chief executive officer Matt Kaness. “Body positivity is something that, as a father of an 11-year-old girl, I take personal pride in everyday in being in a company that helps to reset the standard of what beauty looks like and how women might aspire to think about themselves.”
He said the company has over 1,000 styles online and suggested that other plus-sized apparel brands would be lucky to have half of that assortment. He believes it’s an underserved demographic. Modcloth is also a social media success: It has over 1.4 million Facebook followers and more than 2 million Pinterest followers. The company courts its community of customers by posting their outfit pictures on its Web site. Modcloth also retired the label of “plus” in its size categories last year.
An unlikely candidate for inclusion in the plus-size sector is YogaSmoga. Often compared to Lululemon, YogaSmoga’s clothing line has style options that go up to a size 16. By comparison, Lululemon sizes stop at a size 12.
“We introduced 14, 16 and 18 sometime last year because a lot of people were coming to us,” said cofounder and chief operating officer Tapasya Bali. “We were reacting to the demand in the market.“
Chief executive officer Rishi Bali said the company was running out of inventory as soon as it came online because of the demand for the larger sizes. “There is huge demand for this size,” said Rishi Bali.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average weight for American women over the age of 20 is 166 pounds. Now it seems these and other brands are catching on to the reality of the female shopper and giving her fashion in the right size.