Brands and retailers have been rushing to embrace plus-size consumers as the size-diversity and body-positivity movement gains momentum.The segment currently accounts for 67 percent of the population. High-profile advocates such as curvy model Ashley Graham and blogger Nicolette Mason have helped keep the issue of plus-size parity top of mind.
The field has gotten more crowded with Loft Plus (sizes 16 to 26); J.C. Penney Boutique +; Nordstrom’s extended size initiative rolled out to 30 stores; Target’s Universal Thread, (26W/XS-4X), and extended sizes launched at Express, Asos and Mango, among others.
Millennial e-commerce site Spring is now renewing its commitment to plus-size shoppers and embracing size inclusivity in three areas: creative direction, customer experience and brand partnerships. The online retailer cites a groundswell of searches for plus-size assortments, up 700 percent year-over-year, to back up the move.
Full catalogue launches of brands with extended sizing such as href=”http://wwd.com/business-news/retail/reese-witherspoons-brand-links-with-eloquii-1202602674/”>Eloquii, Igigi, Slink Jeans, Hips and Curves, Universal Standard and Sealed With a Kiss are part of the initiative. Spring, which already features 30 brands including plus sizes from BB Dakota and Violeta Mango, plans to launch more than 20 size-inclusive brands this year. The online retailer now offers more than 3,500 stockkeeping units of extended size product.
“Spring is built on the belief that shopping should be simple,” said Katherine Prime, chief customer officer of the e-tailer. “We enable our customers to shop over 1,500 brands seamlessly in one cart on their mobile phones. We were the first marketplace to offer free shipping and free returns on every purchase. We’re now making the search for products easier for everyone — of every size — because your size shouldn’t dictate where or how you shop.”
Spring enhanced its app and web site to improve the search experience of plus size and petite customers. Plus sizes and petites now have dedicated landing pages visible in Spring’s main menu. New filtering capabilities expose sizes 18 to 26 and 1X to 3X in women’s clothing that were previously difficult to see in one place.
“We know that 40 percent of Millennial women are plus-size,” Prime said. “The majority report that shopping for plus-size apparel is more stressful. We wanted to create a better experience for plus-size consumers than what we had. We know the customer and what she needs.”
Prime said the industry has been moving toward a more consumer-centric approach. “We’re definitely seeing the industry moving in that direction,” she said. “In last few years, there’s been a greater shift toward thinking about customers. In the past, it was muses. We recognize there’s a huge opportunity to service women who want to buy clothes and express themselves.
“The ability of plus-size women to shop the most stylish brands in one great experience is severely limited, and we hope to change that,” Prime said. “We have a dedicated area on the site that filters down for plus consumers. It’s a refinement to the styles they want. We have a combination of plus-size and size inclusive brands. Customer expectation is driving the changes online. They expect to buy from any assortment.”
“Our goal is that all women feel represented on Spring, through our brand assortment, campaign images, and end-to-end experience,” Prime said. To that end, Spring will promote size inclusive imagery on its app, web site and marketing collateral. “We’ve had some great campaigns with body-positive champions,” she said.
Spring in March ran a campaign starring KhrystyAna, a body-positive activist and America’s Next Top Model runner-up. Betsy Teske a former curvy model and aspiring lawyer, is featured in Spring’s latest campaign, wearing Universal Standard, Eloquii and Mango. Teske made headlines last year when she became the first curvy model to walk in Alexander McQueen’s runway show during Paris Fashion Week.
Prime said exclusive products and offers are being planned. Prices on Spring range from $2.98 for a Hips and Curves, soft and comfy camisole to $4,495 for Lea Rose’s floral metalasse Holly elbow-sleeve gown.
“We believe in the power of the marketplace, which allows us to deliver such a wide assortment,” Prime said. “Spring doesn’t own any inventory. Consumers shop with the unified cart, but the transaction happens at brand level.”