Ashley Graham believes there’s a gaping hole in the sexy, plus-size intimate apparel category and she wants to fill it with her lingerie collection, which is produced by Canadian plus-size retailer Addition Elle.
After five seasons, Graham is bringing her collection to the U.S. and selling it exclusively through nordstrom.com this August and Nordstrom’s Wauwatosa, Wis., and Minneapolis locations this October.
The model is familiar with the category, having spent more than a decade posing for lingerie and swimwear brands including Lane Bryant and Swimsuits For All. But she had trouble finding pretty and functional pieces.
“I could find sexy bras and I could find supportive bras, but it was never sexy and supportive together,” she said.
During a modeling job for Addition Elle, which is owned by Reitmans, Graham approached Roslyn Griner, the brand’s head of marketing, about creating a line and Griner obliged. The first collection was released in October 2013.
Griner said Nordstrom was the right vehicle for expanding into the U.S., which currently makes up 3 percent of Addition Elle’s sales, because the retailer has focused on elevating the plus-size experience in-store.
“The Nordstrom environment is modern and beautiful,” said Griner, who contended that the collection will attract a younger plus-size customer to the department store.
“We currently carry several brands that offer plus sizes in their range, but very few focus solely on serving the plus-size customer. We think this will be a great advantage for Ashley Graham and our customer,” said Kristin Frossmo, Nordstrom’s vice president and divisional merchandise manager of the lingerie division.
The collection, named Modern Boudoir, was inspired by the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey.” It includes four bras with bondage-inspired removable straps and lace details, which are priced from $65 to $70; four styles of matching underwear, which retail for $30, and a chemise and lace kimono that both retail for $95.
Outside of Addition Elle’s stores, e-commerce site and a dedicated Ashley Graham site, the line is sold in Europe on Navabi, an online plus-size retailer based in Germany.
According to Griner, it’s an ideal time to distribute the collection to the U.S. as Graham’s profile has shot up within the past year. In February, the model appeared in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue in a Swimsuits For All ad, which was the first plus-size ad for the magazine. Graham was also one of the six models featured in Cacique by Lane Bryant’s “I’m No Angel,” campaign, which was released last month.
“There aren’t a lot of designers doing plus size, so it’s more about working with personalities,” said Griner.
Graham is the first celebrity collaboration for Addition Elle, which also sells apparel, swimwear, shoes and accessories, but the brand also worked with plus-size blogger Nadia Aboulhosn on an apparel collection for fall 2015.
After debuting in Nordstrom, Griner said Addition Elle will increase its U.S. distribution for spring 2016 and release a line of basic Ashley Graham bras and underwear that same season. According to Griner, the brand is starting its U.S. expansion with lingerie – a category that accounts for 30 percent of Addition Elle’s overall sales – but apparel is next. “There are not a lot of plus-size brands with a younger aesthetic,” said Griner.
As for Graham, who’s become a body activist, she’s interested in creating an active line next.
“Activewear is lacking in the plus division because I think people don’t think plus-size women work out,” said Graham, who partnered with Net-a-porter on the Curvy Fit Club workout video and will go into production on more episodes this June.