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Lane Bryant Introduces Couture for Plus Sizes
By: Jennifer Graber
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Full-figured women have faced many challenges over the years in finding fashionable, aesthetic pieces to wear. Apparently, some "designers" suffer from the delusion that plus-size women do not care about what they wear; they design pieces that look like they come from the office drapes. Or, frustratingly, they don’t offer any sizes in the plus-size range. The average American woman is a size 14. So where’s the love? One brand aiming to spread the love to voluptuous women is Lane Bryant. Lane Bryant, a retailer, sells clothing, accessories, lingerie, shoes, swimwear, active wear, and more geared towards women in the plus-size category.  
 
The Lane Bryant brand has been working hard for a while to fill the void in the plus size clothing market. But, the brand recently felt it had “grown a little stale” because it was placing too much emphasis on the older market. Additionally, the brand saw the potential in expanding its market within couture due to an overall unavailability of higher end pieces (especially to plus-size women).
 
So in an effort to spice it up, Lane Bryant has partnered with couture designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo. The partnership is creating a collision between the world of mass merchandising and the world of high fashion “color, design, look, and style.” The designers will launch a line of t-shirts and handbags that are set to debut in Lane Bryant stores before the holiday season. Additionally, Isabel and Ruben Toledo will design more couture pieces for the brand in the spring. The spring debut is expected to include a greater variety of clothing and accessories.
 
The plus-size clothing segment is shied away from at all costs, or so it seems. But the two brands, and their partnership, are reaching directly into that basically untapped market. The potential almost seems unlimited. If this foray is successful, what else lies ahead? This has the chance to open up opportunities for other couture brands. Who wouldn’t want to expand their sales potential?
 
But this does raise a question or two for high-fashion brands. Couture brands who typically offer average, or smaller than average, sizes might be concerned about offering plus sizes. In doing so, could it change a brand or its core ideals? And if so, and the brand shows that concern, does that equal a PR disaster for the brand (remember the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, anyone)?
 
But again, we go back to this idea: What brand wouldn’t want to tap into a new market? The plus-size couture market offers so many opportunities and it would behoove more high-fashion brands to pursue them. After all, fabulousness, and sales potential, comes in all sizes.


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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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