For the past year, Nordstrom has been pressing brands for extended sizes, on both ends of the size spectrum. Now there’s something to show for it.
At its store in the Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles, which opens Tuesday, Nordstrom will present extended sizes in lingerie and swimwear, integrated with the regular sizes.
That’s being “inclusive,” Nordstrom said, and by spring 2018, the strategy will grow to at least 60 brands in ready-to-wear, dresses, outerwear, lingerie and swimwear, at 15 key stores.
“We have been working for the last year or so to figure out a way to take better care of customers. A whole lot of them we couldn’t serve because their favorite brands didn’t make their sizes,” said Tricia Smith, Nordstrom Inc.’s executive vice president and general merchandise manager of designer, women’s and kids apparel.
Last October, Nordstrom launched exclusively the Good American denim brand designed in sizes zero to 24 and cofounded by Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede. “It’s been super successful,” Smith said.“The best-selling sizes were zeros, 14s and 16s. In many cases we didn’t sell those sizes in other denim brands.” But Nordstrom approached them and, “They were pretty receptive to us. In general, we made progress with just about every denim brand.”
The mission grew to other categories, with Nordstrom approaching lingerie, ready-to-wear, outerwear and dress firms that typically only offered sizes 2 to 12.
“We will have 40 brands with extended sizes for holiday,” Smith said. “By spring 2018, we will have 60 or more brands extending sizes, and we will be launching extended size ranges in probably 15 key markets.”
Among the denim-based brands with extended sizes for Nordstrom are Topshop, Rag & Bone, Madewell and Good American. Denim sizes typically run from 24 to 31, but Nordstrom asked brands to extend to 23 to 34.
Nordstrom’s private label brands will offer a fuller size range for holiday.
In ready-to-wear, several brands are extending up to size 18. Nordstrom will disclose the labels once they hit stores for holiday in November.
With contemporary labels, which generally offer sizes 2 to 12, Nordstrom has requested certain brands to extend to sizes zero, 2, 14, 16 and 18.
In petites, Nordstrom will offer several labels in sizes zero, zero-zero, and XXS. Nordstrom’s private labels Caslon and Halogen introduced size XXS in mid-July for Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale.
Regarding the retailer’s Encore department for plus sizes, a spokeswoman said, “At Century City, we will not have a traditional designated Encore department. However, we will have a strong representation of plus-size specific brands including our own private label that we are integrating into all other departments, i.e. dresses, ready-to-wear, etc.” Through the rest of the department store chain, “We are not eliminating our existing Encore departments.”
Asked why extended sizes are only now emerging, Smith replied, “Brands needed a retailer to come to them, articulate the need, present a solution and prioritize it. We expressed the importance. They were receptive.”
Smith also said retailers now have greater access to data and technology helping them understand the opportunities for increasing business and customer traffic.
Within the fashion/retail industry, there’s a growing movement toward inclusiveness and changing perceptions on what’s body-beautiful. Lane Bryant is featuring actress Danielle Brooks in its “I’m No Angel” campaign and over the past year, Michael Kors, Commes des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo and Christian Siriano featured a range of body types on their runways. H&M also showcased more shapely models — Kate Syme and Stella Duval — in its buy-now-wear-now collection, while Nike started selling a 1x through 3x plus-size collection.
To dramatize its “inclusiveness,” Nordstrom purchased a new mannequin collection called “Sizes” from Ralph Pucci International. The mannequins are in sizes 16 and 12, as well as 8, which is regular size, and will be grouped together in lingerie and denim at Century City.
Asked if the drive for extended sizes was triggered by any challenges selling women’s merchandise, Smith replied, “If anything, it’s a response to what we heard from customers, that they want to find their size in their favorite brands. Our ready-to-wear business has actually been pretty strong.”
Within its size strategy, Smith said the biggest volume opportunity is for brands to introduce sizes zero, 2, 14, 16 and 18 to their lines. “We have access to so much online data that can really show what markets are selling extended sizes and where the demand is coming from,” Smith said.
She said the average size of U.S. women is 12 or 14, which lots of brands don’t produce. “We are working as fast as we can,” to get brands on the program, Smith said. “By spring, it will be a very significant experience in our stores as well as on our web site. It’s something we are really passionate about.”
Nordstrom is launching a lingerie campaign this month “celebrating diversity in size, body type, ethnicity and skin tones,” Smith said. “It’s time to better represent customers in all ways.”