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Editorial: Shortsighted Fashion Strategy Creates Jeweler Opportunity |  March 22, 2021 (0 comments)


New York, NY—We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: plus-size snobbery in apparel and luxury retailing is a stellar opportunity for jewelers. Image: Ashley Graham/Instagram

It’s no secret that many luxury apparel brands deliberately ignore women above a certain size. Some luxury brands are so body-elitist that they don’t even sell non-plus sizes above a 12, yet more than two-thirds of American women wear a size 14 or above. Other brands offer plus sizes but only online, as if this customer doesn’t deserve the same in-store experience as more petite counterparts. 

All women want to feel pretty, so when they can’t find clothing they like, jewelers can step in with beautiful jewelry. (See below for important tips on making sure your jewelry fits right the first time.) 

But it’s not just luxury brands that are dissing these customers. Popular mid-price apparel brand Loft announced last Monday that it would phase out plus sizes, and in the process set off an avalanche of consumer criticism on social media. The mall mainstay brand, along with sister brands Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant (a plus-size retailer) and Lou & Grey, was acquired by Sycamore Partners in a bankruptcy sale last year.

This article in Retail Dive said the brand’s reasoning was “business challenges” of producing a wider range of sizes. Adjusting patterns for fit is a more complex process for both larger and smaller sizes than it is for the core “middle” range of sizes.

But that could be very short-sighted, says Retail Dive. From the article: Women's plus-sized apparel represents a $9.8 billion market this year, according to data from IBIS World. The firm designated U.S. adults between 46 and 64 years old as "a key demographic for plus-size women's clothing" and said the number of adults "aged 20 to 64 is expected to increase in 2020, representing a potential opportunity for the industry."

It’s certainly no secret to jewelers that older customers have more money. The past two holiday seasons have borne this out: while this year did see improved sales to Millennials (but not Gen-Z) than last year, most jewelers are still deriving the bulk of their revenue from the over-40 (if not over-50) set—the group most likely to be over a size 14.

Gen-Z, by the way, is a lot more size-inclusive in its attitudes than earlier generations, and drives about one-third of plus-size clothing sales

What jewelers need to know. Luckily for jewelers, tapping into this market is extremely easy, and jewelry doesn’t require the kind of complex fit adjustments for plus-size customers that apparel does. But that doesn’t mean it requires no adjustment. One size does not fit all, or even most. Imagine a customer enthusiastically trying on a piece that doesn’t fit: by the time you offer to size it, some of the magic went out of the moment. Here are some tips to make the sale an outstanding experience for everyone:

Style-wise, your plus-size customers want the same thing every other woman does: to wear what makes her feel pretty, and to feel pretty while she’s in the process of buying it. Answer that need for her, and you’ve got a customer for life.

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