Weeks after Nike revealed its first plus-size fitness clothing campaign, we're seeing yet another step towards inclusivity in the activewear space: Fabletics, the athleisure brand co-founded by Kate Hudson, is extending its sizes, from XXS to XXL to XXS to 3X.
“It was always something we wanted to do," Hudson told Refinery29 of the big news. What kept the now-three-year-old brand from introducing it, she explained, was ensuring there was sufficient demand, and that there were resources in place to launch it properly. "It makes sense, doesn’t it — our whole brand is about inclusivity and wanting everyone to be involved in it. It was a natural progression. But it’s something you need to focus on to do right."
It took about a year to get the idea from pitch meeting to retail, Hudson estimated. She and president Gregg Throgmartin stress that, because every decision they make is backed up by data, Fabletics needed to ensure that the audience was there — both in order to know what would sell, and in an effort to not have outlying stock wasting away. Usually, when introducing a new facet of the business, "we buy small and test it," Throgmartin noted; that's what happened with swim, which Fabletics introduced last year and plans on bringing back this summer. This allows them to be nimble with their buys, he said: "If there’s a demand, we can very quickly get more out to our customer."
Fabletics rolled out its April collection, available in the full range of sizes, with a campaign starring Hudson and a squad of our favorite models, including Barbie Ferreira, Marquita Pring, and Juliana Herz. All the pieces ring in at under $70. An even wider sizing range isn't totally out of the question: The brand told Refinery29 that it "[expects] to continue expanding our product selection based on the demand we see among our customers."
"With something like extended sizing, you put quite an investment into that, and you hope not only that the girls love it, but that it’s good enough to become something that keeps girls coming back," Hudson added. "That’s our goal." There are design nuances to consider, she noted — whether it's how a popular style scales up or down, or how the seams change depending on what size the garment is. "We don’t take requests, but we do take collective requests," she joked of customer feedback (and sometimes asks) for certain pieces. The one exception: Fabletics' high-rise legging, which is one of the brand's best-sellers and actually was a suggestion from a fan that Hudson met on a flight.
The company says it currently has more than 1.2 million active members — and while most of its business still comes from members' purchases, there's been sales growth from shoppers who aren't registered on the site. (You can buy Fabletics gear at one of its retail locations without having to start an account; its so-called "VIPs," though, get access to lower prices, exclusive pieces and prints, discounts at partner wellness brands, as well as workout and lifestyle content available online.) It's a model that received quite a bit of criticism and even accusations of being a scam early on — but both Hudson and Throgmartin believe they've weathered the confusion surrounding the flexible membership, which chargers customers should they forget to skip the monthly fee (and which is reportedly quite difficult to cancel). "It was a matter of finding the right way to explain the process very, very, very clearly," she said. "That was actually quite an easy fix. We had some criticism and it was a little bit overblown — but, at the same time, we just made sure it was literally on every [page]... There are always going to be little kinks in the wheel before it becomes the well-oiled machine."
The initial pushback was outweighed by a few key figures Throgmartin said were encouraging, like the fact that 85% of Fabletics' sales come from repeat shoppers, and that since the brand launched, it has received 7.8 million customer referrals. "The other thing I look at is how quick we sellout of those outfits the first week," he told us. "It tells me we’re putting compelling stuff [out] that they do want to come back each month."
The company is projected to reach $250 million in revenue this year, according to a representative. Its entry into the plus-size space will likely grow that number, since it's a market that generates $20.4 billion in sales in the U.S. annually, according to Business Insider. What Fabletics is selling, though, with its trendy-but-affordable athleisure and exclusive online workouts with Body by Simone and Plyojam, is an entry point to a lifestyle — the "journey" to an active lifestyle, as Throgmartin put it. "It’s not about [reaching a benchmark]," Hudson added. "It's about doing the best you can — I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it's true."