MODESTYLE.COM’S PLUS-SIZE PLANS

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — ModeStyle.com, an e-commerce site under development, wants a bite of the underserved plus-size market.
The new site, which will launch May 1, is being developed by Freedom Communications, Irvine, Calif., in partnership with Lewit & LeWinter/Freedom, which owns Mode and Girl magazines. ModeStyle.com is talking with venture capitalists for additional financing.
Ginger Neal, who has worked on several new business ventures, as well as startups for Freedom, is president and chief executive officer of ModeStyle.com.
“We’re leveraging the power of Mode magazine, Freedom Communications’ 28 newspapers, e-commerce and direct marketing,” said Neal. Mode Magazine, in its third year, has a rate base of 600,000.
Neal said the idea was to offer plus-size apparel makers another channel of distribution. She will order merchandise up front and ModeStyle.com will handle fulfillment, distribution and returns.
Among the plus-size lines that will be offered on the site are Elisabeth, David Dart, Eileen Fisher, Luben, Dana Buchman, Joan Vass, Sigrid Olsen, Rabbit Rabbit and Karan Kane.
A.G. Britton, vice president and editor in chief of ModeStyle.com, added, “We really want to make this a fashion and beauty paradigm. It’s for size 12 and up. Plus size has always been a [stepsister].”
She said that although designers and manufacturers had doubled their plus-size offerings since 1995, the retail space hadn’t grown nearly as much.
Britton, who previously was editor in chief of Mode and continues to contribute monthly features to the magazine, said ModeStyle.com goes a step beyond a magazine.
“It has the editorial allure, but you can shop from the pages,” she said. She explained that for editorial features, she will pull from the designers on the site.
“It will be open to everyone, but we’ll make sure we pay attention to the people who are selling on the site,” she said.
A preview of the site shows such features as top 10 trends for spring, beauty trends and short items on well-being and books.
Nancy LeWinter, partner in Lewit & LeWinter, said full-figured women are big catalog users and don’t necessarily need to feel the product to purchase it.
Noting that “our reader purchase more from catalogs” than readers of other fashion and beauty magazines, she believes that habit will translate well to e-commerce.
Mode magazine has had its own Web site for a year, Modemag.com, which will become a section of ModeStyle.com.
Britton said ModeStyle.com’s features will be created strictly for the Web and will differ from what is offered in Mode magazine.
“It’s going to be fun and easy. Studies have shown that guys browse the Web, but women really use the Web,” she said.
Seventy-seven percent of Mode readers use PCs, said Britton, adding that 82 percent of those PC users also use the Internet, and 45 percent have made a personal purchase in the last 12 months.
Neal noted that ModeStyle.com would advertise in Mode magazine and other offline venues and will have links to other sites.

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