Partners in Body Positivity

Despite the fast-growing incidence of new initiatives focusing on the plus-size and extended-size women’s apparel and accessories markets over the past several years, there is still a need for more fashionable choices for consumers at both the higher and lower end of the size spectrum. As a result, general-market fashion retailers and brands continue to enter or strengthen their presence in this space, often through collaborations. At the same time, plus-size specialists of both the bricks-and-mortar and e-commerce variety continue to collaborate with outside properties that want to reach this still-underserved consumer segment.

Recent ventures involve a variety of retailers, etailers, and brand marketers partnering with celebrities, entertainment properties, and fashion labels:

  • Mainstream retail chains. Walmart paired with actress Sofia Vergara for a size-inclusive and affordable denim line, which launched in February 2019 with close to 100 items (including jeans and denim jackets as well as coordinating items such as fashion tops) available through Walmart’s collaboration with Ellen DeGeneres is also size-inclusive. Meanwhile, in 2018 JCPenney worked with gymnast Laurie Hernandez on a fashion capsule billed as promoting body positivity for girls of all shapes, sizes, and body types, under its Obsess line for tweens.
  • Plus-size retail specialists. Torrid launched a lingerie collection with model Tara Lynn under its Torrid Curve intimates brand, as well as a 12-piece Avengers: Endgame apparel collection, in collaboration with Marvel and licensee Her Universe. Canadian chain Addition Elle paired with footwear brand Aldo for a line of wide-fit shoes and cross-body bags designed to be comfortable for plus-sized shoppers, with the co-branded line sold in Additional Elle stores. And Lane Bryant teamed with influencer Rochelle Johnson and her lifestyle website Beauticurve this month for a 10-piece, pastel- and print-driven spring clothing collection.
  • Plus-size e-commerce and subscription box specialists. This spring, Dia & Co. is teaming with designer Betsey Johnson for a capsule of dresses, tops, and bottoms featuring prints from Johnson’s archives, while Eloquii is partnering with Priscilla Ono, Rihanna’s makeup artist, on a 12-piece apparel capsule in bright and neon hues inspired by currently popular cosmetics colors such as raspberry and orange. Eloquii’s collection last spring with Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James brand led the latter to expand permanently into plus sizes across all of its apparel categories starting this spring.
  • Designers and fashion brands. Footwear marketer Jeffrey Campbell paired with La’Shaunae Steward, a body-positivity activist and model, for a size-inclusive footwear capsule, while Vans’ David Bowie-inspired gender-neutral sneaker collection also comes in extended sizing. U.K.-based intimates brand Playful Promises paired with influencer Gabi Gregg for a third collection of plus-size lingerie, sold initially on the company’s website with plans for subsequent distribution through ASOS stores.

It should be noted that retailers, e-tailers, and brands are also increasingly launching permanent, proprietary, plus- and/or extended-size programs. These often occur after testing the market through collaborations—as with the Draper James example above—which reduces the risk of plunging into a long-term initiative.

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