Despite being a $20 billion market in the U.S. (and having a vocal consumer demand), many fashion brands — especially fast-fashion labels that appeal to a budget-conscious, trend-driven customer — still don't cater to the plus-size shopper. We've seen a handful of symbolic victories this season, with Target stocking the larger sizes of its annual designer collaboration in-store for the first time, and fitness companies like Fabletics and Nike finally expanding to plus. But, still, there have been setbacks, like FashionNova thinking it was a good idea to show off its curve collection on size 2 models, proving that the industry as a whole still doesn't know how to speak to this consumer. Today, though, we're seeing a mass retailer take a step beyond paying lip-service to inclusivity: Forever 21 is re-introducing its Plus line with a new look and an even larger selection of product.
The new Forever 21 Plus collection doesn't just represent its latest drop of merchandise — rather, it's a full-on rebrand, which includes more pieces of ready-to-wear, lingerie, and swim in larger sizes, as well as a commitment to fashion-forward offerings that fall in line with the rest of the retailer's offerings. Linda Chang, Forever 21's vice president of merchandising, described the spring '17 collection in a statement as "edgy and bold," made for a consumer that's "confident and fashion-forward, undefined by size."
"We launched Forever 21 Plus in 2009 as we felt that there was a big gap in the market for trend-driven, plus fashion at a great value," Chang told WWD. She noted that the retailer's instinct was right then, and it's experience in the market so far has shown the team that the "customer demand for more styles and fashion" is only growing. To showcase the new styles, Forever 21 recruited Barbie Ferreira and Lulu Bonfils to model in its spring '17 lookbook.
Forever 21's approach to its plus relaunch indicates that the retailer, which was recently identified as one of the top five most popular brands among millennials by Piper Jaffray’s 33rd Semi-Annual Proprietary Teen Research Project, is heavily investing in a customer that has long been ignored by the fashion industry. It's doing so not just by selling the same merchandise in larger sizes, but also by designing specifically with this shopper in mind — a big shift considering the retailer came under fire for the models it used to promote its plus clothing on social media just last year. There's still a lot of room for growth (more sizing options, more categories, more inventory!), but it's a move in the right direction — and one we seriously hope other mass-appeal brands take note of.