ModCloth has just made a major statement about its views toward the word “plus.”
The online retailer of women’s vintage-inspired clothing has dropped the “plus” tab from its Web site, and has begun removing the word from its site overall. Instead, it has integrated extended sizes into each category, and for customers who want to only see clothing that is available in larger sizes, has left an “extended sizes” sorting category.
The move, said cofounder Susan Gregg Koger, was a response to customer feedback, and is one of the first highly visible changes to come out of the brand’s Fit Shop, which opened in San Francisco in July.
The Fit Shop is ModCloth’s first physical retail location, and lets customers browse and try on before ordering items online. It is also an opportunity to showcase ModCloth’s new line of branded apparel, also unveiled in July, whose full range of sizes (XS to 4X) is incorporated throughout the store. This “inclusive” shopping experience, Koger said, is something that Fit Shop customers said they liked.
“If we don’t have separate sections [for plus] in brick and mortar,” Koger said of the online changes, “it makes sense to also have that on the site.”
This preference was reflected in a survey that ModCloth commissioned from an independent research company, the results of which were released today. In a survey of 1,500 women who wear size 16 or above, almost 60 percent reported that they felt embarrassed by going to a separate store or department to find their size, and 65 percent would prefer to find their size in the same section as other sizes.
Koger said she was also surprised to see that 56 percent of women were frustrated that they were labeled “plus.” She said that 30 percent of all styles across ModCloth’s full site are available in extended sizes — something that the brand is continuing to grow since beginning to offer plus sizes in 2013.
ModCloth, since being founded in 2002, has become a champion for inclusivity, and often features customers and a range of sizes for its models — a stance that seems to be paying off. In 2014, the company determined that 80 percent of plus-size women would spend more on clothing if they could find flattering options.
Size 16 and above is the brand’s fastest-growing category, and ModCloth reports that customers who buy sizes 16 and above place 20 percent more orders than average. Ultimately, Koger said, she would like to see a fully inclusive shopping experience that extends beyond “plus” to include, for example, more options for petite and tall customers.
“The perceived notion of what it means to be plus-size in the market and our general society has really changed,” Koger said. “Diversity is a good thing and we should be proud of it and celebrating and reflecting it in our media.”
Koger said that another benefit of the fit shop was being able to experience the power of social shopping — something the brand has utilized extensively in its Web and mobile destinations.
“I was really struck by the power of shopping with friends,” Koger said. “Maybe this is obvious, but as an online retailer, we’ve always known that social shopping is part of what we do, but being able to see that in person — that experience turns into an uplifting, positive thing.”
ModCloth has undergone a number of changes this year. In addition to opening the Fit Shop and creating its first line of ModCloth-branded apparel this summer, it brought on new chief executive officer Matt Kaness and received a $15 million-dose of funding.