2018 Fashion: We Drop “Plus Size” And Evolve Past The Retail Apocalypse

The industry still tends to treat plus-size women as a separate category from “straight-size” women, who are under a size 14. When women go shopping at a department store, for instance, plus-size women are often forced to shop in a separate section of the floor from their straight-size friends. Brands are increasingly drawing awareness to the absurdity of this. Good American, a size-inclusive denim brand cofounded by Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede, has put pressure on retailers that carry their products to ensure that all sizes are in the same place. “This is part of a broader cultural change,” Grede explains. “Our very notion of what makes a beautiful, sexy body is changing. We want to be part of this change.”

Golden hour at our Union Square store in San Francisco ???? ✨

A post shared by Warby Parker (@warbyparker) on Nov 22, 2017 at 5:05pm PST

Brick And Mortar Makes A Comeback

Contrary to widely held belief, consumers are eager to get off their couches, close their laptops, and interact with real people in the real world. Even though digital brands have been gaining market share, customers still only make 16% of their fashion purchases online, according to analyst Marshal Cohen.

Over the last year, we’ve seen that brands that use stores to foster connection and build community can win customers over. Many companies that began online, like Allbirds, Bonobos, Warby Parker, Cuyana, and, just this month, Everlane, have built stores that offer rich, immersive experiences. They’re a far cry from traditional mall brands with bad lighting and endless racks of clothing. Women’s workwear brand MM.Lafleur, for instance, has opened showrooms called “Out of Office” where customers can make appointments with a personal stylist. “It’s a bit counterintuitive, but many customers find shopping in our showrooms the most efficient and productive way to shop–even more so than shopping online,” says Tory Hoen, creative director of brand. “Because we don’t hold inventory on the floor, they don’t waste time browsing–and we don’t waste time on retail space we don’t need. It’s more personalized for the customer, and it’s more efficient for us.”

Startups are throwing out the old rule books about what a store should be and are having fun experimenting with innovative approaches. Take M.Gemi, which sells Italian-made shoes. The brand launched as a digital play, but has now opened fun showrooms, many with fully stocked bars. Over the summer, the brand took a truck loaded with ice cream and shoes to beach locations on the eastern seaboard to introduce the brand to new people. What we’re discovering now is that these physical locations tend to boost online sales and create more loyal customers. M.Gemi clients who make a purchase in-store tend to buy another pair of shoes a week and a half faster than digital-only customers. They also return products 30% less, since they’ve been properly fitted. Customers that have shopped online end up spending 33% more when they visit a store, and spend 14% more online after an in-person visit.

Direct-To-Consumer Sector Scales

A few years ago, fashion brands measured their success by how much VC funding they received. As I pointed out in a recent story about the fate of Bonobos and Nasty Gal, this money did not translate into massive growth. But over the last few years, we’ve seen many startups take on far less capital, but grow sustainably and achieve scale. Kevin Lavelle, founder and CEO of menswear brand Mizzen+Main, believes the fate of some of these earlier brands has prompted brands like his to be more conservative and selective about who they take on as investment partners. “We have seen what happens when companies expand too quickly, and ultimately become cautionary tales of what happens when you bite off more than you can chew,” he says. “What made DNVB (digitally native vertical brands) successful five years ago no longer works. Indeed, even for some of them, it was not effective at scale.”

Article source: https://www.fastcompany.com/40497225/2018-fashion-we-drop-plus-size-and-evolve-past-the-retail-apocalypse

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