#PlusIsEqual: Lane Bryant Opens Retail Window on Plus-Size Fashion

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Lane Bryant

Lane Bryant’s #PlusIsEqual ad in Vogue‘s all-important September issue trumpets, “It’s time for a change,” overlaid on silhouettes of what the fashion industry considers plus-size women. It points to the Plus Is Equal website, the brand’s call to action platform now soliciting tweets and Facebook posts about the lack of respect for those with body types not between sizes 0 to 12.

“We’ll be addressing key players in the fashion industry and media with our rallying cry for equal representation,” Lane Bryant writes on its website. “And we’ll need your help.” Already, supporters have been answering the call with their own posts.

Lane Bryant

The campaign includes a “get the facts” section, which quotes Business Insider’s claim that 65 percent of women size 14 to 34 feel that the industry largely ignores their retail needs.

Lane Bryant’s “I’m No Angel” campaign preceded this new effort. As Brian Beitler, Lane Bryant’s EVP/CMO, tells Forbes, “We wanted to help women in general see how significant the brand was and to help them better understand who we are and what we believe about women.”

“I’m No Angel” featured plus-size models wearing the brand’s new lingerie collection, Cacique, in TV spots, outdoor ads, wrapping an F subway train and posting on a 20-foot wall on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. The campaign garnered more than 16 billion social and media impressions in four weeks after launch.

Beitler said, “Your brand is shaped by the conversations people are having about you and so you have to get better in having conversations with consumers if you want to shape how they relate and connect to you.” Beitler said there’s more to come and tipped his hat to Dove and Always for their initiatives in redefining beauty stereotypes.

One woman summed it up in Forbes: “When I walk across the threshold [into a Lane Bryant store] the ‘plus’ drops and I’m just a woman.”

The market for plus-size women was $9 billion last year, according to IBIS World. And Lane Bryant is not the only retailer answering the call.

Recently, US fashion retailer Torrid brought its “Real Girls Campaign” to social media with the hashtag #MyStoryMyTorrid, describing it as “the first campaign of its kind in plus-size fashion showcasing real girls who wear sizes 12–28, a demographic representing the majority of American women.”

Torrid

“Our customers often ask us why we don’t show our clothes on ‘real girls’ as well as professional models, and we’ve answered,” said Lisa Harper, Torrid CEO. “It’s a powerful thing to turn the camera on them and give them a platform to express themselves. These young women have been ignored by the fashion industry for too long, we want to turn that around.”

Actress Melissa McCarthy just revealed her don’t-call-it-plus-size Seven7 collection, which hit stores and online (including Macys.com, Nordstrom.com and HSN.com) yesterday.

Melissa McCarthy

“Today plus-size consumers are redefining the way retail and the popular high street commentators and bloggers position the plus size market,” says 3Plus blog post. “At one time the plus size shops were places of shame, where purchases were packed in unbranded bags. Now these plus size shoppers will be driving a whole new consumer dynamic, as supply shifts to meet their demands.”

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