Add Nordstrom (JWN) to the growing roster of retailers looking to better cater to a broader array of women.
On Monday, the upscale department store chain called on top brands to add more items in sizes 14, 16 and 18, as well as additional merchandise in sizes 0 and size 2, saying that it wants to be more inclusive. The move makes sense, considering the untapped potential of the larger size apparel market. According to a market research report from 2012, around 67% of American women wear a size 14 or larger.
Nordstrom is also testing where it positions plus-sized items. At its brand-new location at Westfield’s (WEFIF)Century City mall in Los Angeles, standard and so-called extended sizes from several denim partners, including Topshop, Rag & Bone and J.Crew’s Madewell, will be featured in the same location. This frees customers from having to go to a different, often far-flung, area of the store to find items in their size. Nordstrom will also include its own brands Caslon and Halogen in the initiative.
“We don’t view being size inclusive any differently that the need to be more inclusive across the board—whether it’s ethnicity, size or body type. In our opinion, petite and plus sizes shouldn’t be considered special categories. They’re just sizes,” said Tricia Smith, Nordstrom executive vice president and general merchandise manager for designer, women’s and kids apparel in a statement. The trade newspaper WWD first reported on Nordstrom’s “size-inclusive” initiative plan in August.
It’s not just Nordstrom. Other retailers have realized that treating plus-size apparel as an afterthought is bad for business, and have expanded their merchandise. Target (TGT) and J.C. Penney (JCP), among others, have launched plus-size lines. They face competition from emerging e-commerce players, such as the plus-size subscription service Dia&Co.
Looking ahead, Nordstrom said it plans to offer bigger sizes for about 40 brands by the holidays, and 60 brands by next year. The in-store presentation, in which plus and petite sizes are displayed alongside standard sizes, will be rolled-out to another 14 stores. (Nordstrom operates 122 full department stores). The chain says it is not eliminating existing plus-size or petite departments, but instead wants to fill in sizing gaps.
“We recognize the opportunity to serve customers better by having more sizes. Style and fashion apply to everyone,” said Nordstrom’s Smith.