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Neiman Marcus Is Testing Plus-Size Departments at Its Outlet Stores

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Last Call Studio by Neiman Marcus at Congressional Plaza in Rockville, Maryland, caters primarily to women featuring clothes, jewelry and footwear, but in addition there is a section for men's fashion as well. (Photo by Jed Kirschbaum/Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty Images)Baltimore Sun MCT via Getty Images

In a nod to the reality that not all women have the silhouettes of runway models, Neiman Marcus is trying out plus-size departments at five of its discount stores.

The luxury retailer, best known for pricey gowns by the top designers, has found such success selling larger sizes online in the last two years that it will roll out Last Call Plus Size areas at five “Last Call” stores beginning this weekend, trade publication Women’s Wear Daily has reported. And the concept could be expanded to more.

“This customer is underserved when it comes to upscale options,” Frank Crisci, vice president of merchandising at Neiman Marcus Last Call told WWD. A Neiman spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Neiman is not the only retailer to discover larger women also want fashionable clothes. At the other end of the price spectrum, J.C. Penney (JCP) has also staked a claim on the plus-size women’s apparel market, last year launching a new brand just for that market. Some 64% of American women are classified as overweight or heavier, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The move also comes as Neiman tries to expand its clientele, an all the more urgent task given its five straight quarters of declining comparable sales.

The plus-size mini-shops will be 750 square-feet and have contemporary and activewear, day and evening dresses, tops, jeans, pants, sweaters and coats sized up to 3X and 14 to 24, according to WWD. About 20% of the assortment will be exclusive to Neiman, the paper reported.

The five Last Call stores that will have the section in the total fleet of 27 locations are: Sugarloaf Mills in Lawrenceville, Ga.; Grapevine Mills, Grapevine, Tex.; Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Mills, Mich.; Miromar Outlets in Estero, Fla., and Arundel Mills in Hanover, Md.