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A Plus Market for a New Generation of Retailing

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Photo: Girlfriend Collective, courtesy of the brand through Fashion Snoops.

In depthAs the body positivity movement continues to gain momentum, brands are embracing size inclusivity to offer products and styles that fully fit the needs of their customers. Concerns with lack of assortment, improper fit, and body shaming that have been voiced by customers over the years are finally being met with innovations and systematic changes that accept plus-size bodies. Following in the footsteps of companies such as H&M, Nike, Anthropologie, Asos, and Reformation, Lululemon’s Athletica is one of the latest retailers to offer ‘inclusive sizing’. a wider range of plus-size options has resulted in the expansion of current women’s, men’s, and kids wear assortments while furthering the development of new and necessary product categories such as plus accessories, plus men’s shapewear and furniture designed with plus bodies in mind (referred to as bariatric design.) Yet, as the plus-size market expands, many consumers who have been ignored by straight-size retailers for years are skeptical about the touted ‘embrace’ of inclusivity. They may be on to something, as marketing experts say that adding these sizes can help a brand appear more progressive and inclusive, and retailers stand to profit from size inclusion as the percentage of consumers who wear plus-size clothes rises. In this article, Fashion Snoops outlines the most important shifts and innovations impacting the plus-size market and how savvy brands are authentically speaking to this consumer cohort to offer exciting plus-size products.

PURVEYORS OF PLUS-SIZE

The plus-size market is significantly more established in womenswear than in other markets, dating back to the 90s when the British womenswear brand Evans became a market leader featuring apparel above a UK size 14. Today Evans sells exclusively online and features clothing, lingerie and wide fit shoes. Another retailer that has consistently been ahead of the curve is SimplyBe (also from the UK), an online department store that has been around since the 2000s and offers a full assortment of brands in addition to their own label. On the luxury end of plus and dating back to the 80s, Max Mara-owned Italian brand Marina Rinaldi was the first brand to introduce the expression taglia comoda, meaning comfortable size. The label remains one of the few plus-size brands sold at department stores including Harrods and Nordstrom in addition to their own stores.

ON-TREND ONLINE

E-commerce has provided a lifeline to customers seeking plus-size offerings for every occasion, especially since brick and mortar stores tend not to stock expanded size ranges in store. ASOS Curve is the clear leader of online plus-size both in womens and men’s (including tall offerings). At any given time, ASOS Curve offers over 1,000 items under their own label, while also stocking noteworthy assortments from Wednesday’s Girl Curve, Collusion and Missguided Plus. Other notable high street retailers that offer designated plus-size ranges online include New Look Curves, Violetta by Mango (which is to be integrated under Mango label), Oasis Curve, River Island Plus, Boohoo Plus, H&M Plus Size and Junarose by Vera Moda.

FILLING THE VOID

While the high street is finally keying into expanded plus-size ranges, there are also notable designers that have cultivated their own brands out of necessity and achieved significant followings. Patricia Luiza Blaj of Loud Bodies in Romania worked as a writer in the fashion industry and felt limited by ill-fitting clothes and a lack of styles for larger bodies. She created Loud Bodies as a made-to-order brand that serves as a “love letter to every person who’s ever been made to feel less than, unworthy, or not good enough by the fashion industry and our society.” Noting similar limitations in plus-size offerings, Nana Rasoeva made a career change and founded luxury label The Hour London, which offers elevated essentials that flatter fuller figures. Trousers are a strong point, with a tuxedo style that features a high waist, discreet pockets and satin panels.

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Photo: Eduardo Gorghetto through Fashion Snoops

INCLUSIVITY IS KEY

Perhaps one of the best examples of where the fashion industry is headed as a whole comes by way of Universal Standard’s collection of luxe basics for women. Known as the most inclusive label in the world, founder Alexandra Waldman aims to bring all women together, with an extensive size range of 00 to 40. Universal Standard’s most popular items are denim, which proves the point that style and quality basics are needed in expanded size offerings. The brand has major clout, with previous collaborations with Rodarte and a Spring 21 capsule collection with Erdem.

BODY REPRESENTATION

While new brands and plus-size offerings clearly cater to consumer demands, there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of representing plus-size women and men in fashion and culture. Ashley Graham, Paloma Elsesser and Lizzo have been at the forefront of the #BodyPositive movement. On another positive and promising move, the fashion industry has embraced plus-size models on the runway, as featured in Versace and Fendi’s Spring 21 collections. Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Vol. 2 show brought the heat with a cast of diverse shapes, genders and ages, serving as a prime example of what we, as an industry, should strive for.

PLUS-SIZE ACCESSORIES

Considerations are increasingly being made for plus-size accessories to accommodate differing sizes in footwear, jewelry, and even COVID-safe facemasks. Women on the bigger side of the plus-size range (18+) often have difficulty accessorizing due to a lack of jewelry options made to fit on a larger form. Pieces often pinch, or sit unnaturally on the body, highlighting the lack of specific attention paid to proper scale and overall jewelry design for a larger body type. Universal Standard released a limited-edition collection of gorgeous jewelry in extended sizes. In the footwear market brands like Smash Shoes and Eleanora Anukam Footwear are expanding shoe sizes 9-14 and designing footwear, particularly boots, that take calf dimensions into consideration.

BEYOND BIG & TALL

In the menswear market, representation is key as the men’s body-positivity movement runs significantly behind the women’s across media. A new wave of acceptance is being led by blogs like Notoriously Dapper and Chubstr which provides a positive space for plus-size men to explore fashion and connect with like-minded individuals, while modeling agency IMG’s decision to include a “brawny division” in their model portfolio has seen an increase in men of different build from “sportier brawn” to “bulkier brawn” represented in ad campaigns and e-commerce images.

ELIMINATING “HUSKY” IN CHILDRENSWEAR

Plus-size children are starting to demand access to the same cool, well-made clothing that is available to straight-sized children. For a market that is in high demand, it is considerably sparse. Filling the gap for plus-size kid’s assortments is becoming increasingly important, as plus-size children suffer measurable feelings of isolation and body-image issues. A recent report by the US non-profit organization Heart of Leadership shows that 53 percent of girls express dissatisfaction with their bodies by the age of 13 and up to 50 percent of girls in grades K (kindergarten) through 8 are concerned about their weight; reaching them young is essential. Many big-box brands are removing verbiage like “husky” from kid’s collections to embrace more generic and inclusive labeling. UK-based retailer Next offers plus-size kids assortments for ages as young as three. Next does not advertise as a plus-sized brand, however, it describes its styles as “more generous through the waist and hips for a more comfortable fit.”

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Photo: Converse, courtesy of the brand through Fashion Snoops

INCLUSIVE MERCHANDISING

Cultural conversations around size-inclusivity, gender expression, and body acceptance have caused brands to truly consider how to bring equity into their merchandising strategies. In the post-pandemic retail landscape, consumers will be looking to brands to serve products that provide solutions in line with their unique needs. A best-in-class example is Nettle Studios which is seeing a 300 percent increase in sales after expanding their sizes in 2020. The brand’s innovative approach to size inclusivity led to the release of One Size +, a specialized size that encompasses the sizes XL to 5XL. Other stores seek to eliminate the “plus-size section” altogether by incorporating extended sizes within straight sizes. The strategy means that shoppers do not feel separated or sorted from their friend group when shopping brick and mortar and ensures the same quality of experience for all consumers. In addition, select brands are devoting greater attention to gender-neutral plus-size clothing to further speak to the unique requirements of consumer preferences. Girlfriend Collective launches For Everyone, a collection of genderless basics that include their own size ranges. A pioneer for inclusivity, Girlfriend Collective already carries sizes XXS-6XL, and now offers genderless assortments in sizes 1-12. Converse unveils “SHAPES,” a gender-free clothing collection for “every body.” Condensing the 14 traditional men’s and women’s sizes into four sizes inspired by body shape, not gender, each piece features adjustable design elements that let you create freedom and movement. As inclusivity continues to rank high among consumer chosen preferences, we will continue to see retailers responding with innovative merchandise strategies that speak to specific consumer needs.

SIZE INCLUSIVE DESIGN EDUCATION

As the inclusivity movement gains momentum, design students are requesting compulsory requirements for curriculums such as working with different sized fit models every term, and pattern textbooks with plus-size design in mind. While these demands for systematic change have all yet to be met, students that take it upon themselves to expand their design education into the plus-size market will be better equipped to continue forward in this emerging environment. The online learning platform Craftsy offers a plethora of virtual plus-size design classes making it an accessible resource for virtual design students. The subscription-based service made a comeback in July 2020, after initially launching under the name “Bluprint” in 2011. Innovations in this field are further driving progress for designers looking to design into more inclusive styles. Technology innovator Alvanon is revolutionizing the sizing model with its innovative infrared body scanners. Alvanons body scans allow designers to cut costs and create better fitting samples at an earlier stage of development. Alvanon has already created over 6000 virtual avatars or “Virtual AlvaForms” for their clients.

After years of lack of investment in the plus-size category, a new wave of cultural interest in body positivity and inclusivity is fueling new innovations and product adaptations in the plus-size market. No longer interested in standard basic styles, consumers are demanding that clothing fit them as they are with the aim of fighting back against a fashion industry that at one point dictated size “ideals.” For savvy brands looking to gain the loyalty of their consumers, there is an opportunity to create product assortments that break the sizing, merchandising, and style mold to win over a new generation of fashion lovers of all shapes and sizes.

FashionUnited & FASHION SNOOPS (FS) ave partnered to explore important shifts that will impact consumers, as we both believe it is essential to inform you of future inspirations, business shifts and design strategies. The reports from FS will provide actionable strategies for innovations across marketing, development and design.
In this report, written by Carrera Kurnik, Culture Director & Consumer Insight Strategist at FS and Melissa Moylan, VP of Womenswear at FS, we examine A Plus Market for a New Generation of Retailing.

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Fashion

GREYDER LAB AW21 Collection – Made of new innovative materials like cactus leather

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GREYDER LAB AW21 Collection - Made of new innovative materials like cactus leather

YES, the sustainable footwear fashion brand of this moment GREYDER L A B has launched its first Fall/Winter collection! Although saying goodbye to summer comes a little too soon for some, many are also looking forward to combining their outfits again with different layers that include jackets, long pants and cool high boots of recycled materials from the GREYDER L A B brand!

The Fall/Winter Collection ’21 is about the ‘Class of the Future’. GREYDER L A B ‘s aim is to show and teach people how to make the world a little better and more sustainable, together, in a fashionable, funky and positive way. Where people are open to new things, chill with each other and laugh with each other. Where every single person can be themselves. To create something cool for each, in the most sustainable way by using materials such as cactus, PET-bottles fished from the sea, coffee waste, gym floors, recycled cotton, cork and sugarcane.

Upgrade your look and go for a new style with GREYDER L A B men’s high tops. In GREYDER L A B ‘s fall men’s collection, you’ll find a huge selection of sustainable materials, different colors and different styles. All to express yourself.

GREYDER LAB AW21 Collection - Made of new innovative materials like cactus leather

High-top JAKE

Say hello to JAKE, high-top JAKE. Of which the upper is made of a mix of Recycled Canvas and LWG leather, and the sole is made of Recycled Rubber and Coffee Waste. With its leather lining and comfortable removable Leather Working Group leather footbed, which is by the way implemented in every model, you not only create a winning style, but also walk mega comfy!

GREYDER LAB AW21 Collection - Made of new innovative materials like cactus leather

Images: White sneaker: BOB – Made of LWG-leather, Recycled TR and Recycled Cork
Red sneaker: VLAD – Made of Recycled Canvas, Recycled TR and LWG leather

GREYDER LAB AW21 Collection - Made of new innovative materials like cactus leather

Beige lace-boot: CARLY – Made of Recycled PET bottles and LWG leather

Boost your shoe collection with sustainable fashion of GREYDER L A B ’s collection of versatile women’s sneakers and boots for the new season. Whether you go for cactus material or LWG leather… From knee-high casual boots to chunky boots, and everything in between, GREYDER L A B’s new collection of women’s boots has something for everyone. Whether it is a chelsea or a high-knee boot, both look killer with tights with a cool dress or frayed jeans. Besides that, with every GREYDER L A B shoe they will invest in preserving nature with their GREYDER L A B Forest Fund. So, what are you waiting for? Greyder Lab’s new collection of women’s boots will nail your wardrobe!!

GREYDER LAB AW21 Collection - Made of new innovative materials like cactus leatherGREYDER LAB AW21 Collection - Made of new innovative materials like cactus leather

Meet Boot RUBY

A must-have for each women’s feet! The upper is made of Leather Working Group leather and Thermoplastic Rubber. And, because these eco boots are made on a basis of custom-made shoe lasts and because they have a removable Leather Working Group leather footbed, they give you excellent foot-support as well. Ruby is also available in gold, made from cactus.

Read more about GREYDER LAB on the brandpage: fashionunited.com/companies/greyder-lab

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Nilit partners with The Ocean Foundation

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Image: Sensil Facebook

Nylon brand Nilit has partnered with The Ocean Foundation on its Blue Resilience Initiative.

Joining The Ocean Foundation’s Blue Resilience Initiative, the collaboration aims to protect essential ocean meadows and other coastal habitats. According to Nilit, marine grasslands are being damaged at the rate of two football fields per hour. As important oceanic ecosystems, the grasslands help to reduce global warming by taking CO2 from the atmosphere.

Nilit, which also owns sustainable brand Sensil, has previously stated that protecting the oceans and reducing CO2 is part of its Total Product Sustainability Program. Recently, it reduced CO2 emissions at its main facility, and has utilised clean energy techniques at its manufacturing plants.

“NILIT and The Ocean Foundation can affect both sides of the ocean health equation and, together, make a more substantial impact on the well-being of our oceans and our planet,” said head of global marketing at Nilit, Sagee Aran.

The Ocean Foundation’s Blue Resilience Initiative focuses on coastal reconstruction and providing carbon offsets for foundations, corporations, donors and events. Its work notes the ecological and social impact that coastal areas have on the world, with man made infrastructure degrading nature’s natural defense mechanisms. The Blue Initiative seeks to restore and protect these coastal habitats.

“We are excited to join in The Ocean Foundation’s crucial work to protect the marine ecosystems that sustain life in the oceans and on land,” said Aran. “The Ocean Foundation investment, we have expanded our vision far beyond the traditional supply chain structure so that we can more rapidly and effectively bring about positive environmental impact.”

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Nordstrom and Nike partner with Black Owned Everything

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Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything

Multibrand retailer Nordstrom has launched a partnership with marketplace Black Owned Everything, a platform promoting Black-owned businesses, and its founder Zerina Akers.

The collaboration sees Akers and Nordstrom come together on a curated selection featuring four Black-owned brands, displayed alongside new Nike and Jordan collections in the Nordstrom x Nike dedicated online space.

Labels included in the curation are William Okpo, Sammy B, L’Enchanteur and handbag designer Brandon Blackwood.

Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything

“When we launched Black Owned Everything back in February of this year, partnerships like Nordstrom x Nike were exactly the type of activations I had in mind to amplify the reach of the Black designers whom I work with and mentor,” said Akers, in a release.

She continued: “This intersection of well-established brands and emerging designers is where the progress of Black Owned Everything’s mission takes place.

“The inclusion of these selected designers is a big step for their individual career paths and an even bigger step in the right direction for the American marketplace and beyond.

Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything

“This curation is a fun mix of fashion and lifestyle pieces for the people who are keen to street trends and enjoy functionality.”

Simultaneous with the online presence of the collection, Black Owned Everything merchandise will also be available at four Nordstrom x Nike pop-ups in US-based Nordstrom stores.

Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
Image: Nordstrom x Nike x Black Owned Everything
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