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Investors Catch On to Plus-Size Fashion: The Broadsheet

June 17, 2019, 12:16 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Emma Hinchliffe here today. The U.K. bans gender stereotypes in advertising, Slovakia’s first female president takes office, and investors catch on to the opportunity in plus-size fashion. Have a lovely Monday.

The plus-size opportunity.  Plus-size fashion companies are scoring funding and inking trendy partnerships at an unprecedented rate. From Dia&Co's $40 million round last year to the success of Universal Standard, investors and retailers are finally coming around to a major opportunity they've historically overlooked.

A new entry into the category is Part & Parcel. Founded by Poshmark alum and plus-size blogger Lauren Haber Jonas, the startup sells mostly basics in sizes 14 to 36. One thing that distinguishes the company from the plus-size pack: it offers "dimensional sizing" that allows customers to choose extra room in the bust or arms, for example, without changing the fit of the rest of the garment. It's meant to solve common problems like a button-down that gapes over your bust or a blazer you can't move your arms in.

But what interested us most about Part & Parcel was the business model. At first glance, it looks a lot like a multi-level marketing platform. The startup sells through "partners" rather than directly to customers or through retailers. But Jonas has taken precautions that she says will prevent Part & Parcel from running into MLMs' worst problems.

Part & Parcel sellers do pay a $125 fee to join, but they don't have to buy a backlog of inventory to sell clothing. And they're not as strongly incentivized to bring other women into the business, which Jonas says will prevent a pyramid structure from developing.

It was a tough model to sell to investors over a more traditional D2C business (the startup ended up raising a $4 million seed round), but Jonas had her reasons. Namely: plus-size women also face workplace discrimination. "I wanted to put that money into her pocket to try to solve some of the systemic problems," Jonas says. It's a reason Part & Parcel held its launch event in Anchorage, Alaska—a community where most women are plus-size, unemployment is high, and shopping options are limited.

A novel approach—and one that could solve some of the issues that have plagued these kinds of businesses for decades. And sell some nice wide-width boots. Fortune

Emma Hinchliffe


Stop the stereotypes. Ads in the U.K. won't be allowed to show men struggling to change diapers, women who can't park a car, or women cleaning at home while men relax as new rules take effect banning gender stereotypes in advertising. (Boston might want to take note of the nuance here—the city's transit authority banned ads for The Wing that played on gender inequality.)

Weekend in world leaders. Zuzana Caputova was sworn in as the first female president of Slovakia on Saturday. Thelma Cabrera Pérez rose in the presidential polls just before Guatemala's elections on Sunday; an indigenous campesino woman, she's campaigned on rooting out racism. Former Guatemalan First Lady Sandra Torres led the race after the first round of voting. After facing mass protests, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam shelved a bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. Maia Sandu was named prime minister of Moldova after her predecessor finally agreed to step down and allow a coalition government to take over.

The persistence of NDAs. Despite calls for an end to NDAs in the year-plus after #MeToo took off, only one state's legislation (New Jersey) out of 12 truly negates them. There's tension between two goals: preventing harassment from happening in the future and giving leverage to victims today—which can sometimes come from non-disclosure agreements, despite NDAs' potential to silence victims. New York Times

Asia's richest self-made woman. Zhong Huijuan became the richest self-made woman in Asia this weekend after the company she founded, Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group, started trading on Friday. Her $10.5 billion stake joins the separate $9 billion fortune of her husband Sun Piaoyang from a different pharmaceutical company. They're now one of the world's richest pharma families, alongside the Sacklers. Bloomberg

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield will be the first woman to serve as president of the U.S. Naval War College. First Lady Melania Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham is reportedly a candidate to replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders as White House press secretary. Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks, one of only 13 Republican women in the House, will not seek reelection. The Cleveland Cavaliers hired University of California, Berkeley women's coach Lindsay Gottlieb as an assistant coach, making her the first women's collegiate head coach recruited to an NBA staff. Intellectual property and commercial litigator Jennifer Kelly of Fenwick & West joins Tyz Law Group as partner.


Last Supper, last comments. Chilean bishop Carlos Eugenio Irarrázabal resigned just weeks into his tenure after he gave an interview in which he cited the Last Supper to seemingly argue for women's lack of representation in the Catholic Church. There were no women at the Last Supper, and "we have to respect that," the bishop said, adding, that women may "like to be in the back room." Reuters

Narrowing the gap? Women at HSBC in the U.K. received bonuses 70% lower than those of their male peers, the company's latest gender pay gap report as required by U.K. law reveals. That's actually an improvement from an 85% chasm in 2018. Bloomberg

Reckoning with the past. JAB Holding Company, the business behind Panera, Krispy Kreme, and Einstein Bagels Bros., has a Nazi past through Albert Reimann Jr., the executive at the helm as the company grew post-World War II. Unknown until recently was that Emilie Landecker, the mother of the next generation of Reimanns—who still control the company—was half-Jewish, her father killed by Nazis. The revelations of corporate-Nazi ties aren't unusual in Germany—but those companies don't usually own chains across America. New York Times

Time with Tulsi. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard gets her own 2020 profile—one that interrogates her position on Syria and the contradictions between her upbringing and how she has described pieces of it. That unusual upbringing may explain why Gabbard is "out of place," the story says, with today's Democratic Party. New York Magazine

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