At NEA, we’ve seen the power of marketplaces that transform industries where supply and demand have historically been mismatched. The plus-size women’s clothing market represents one of the greatest underserved segments in fashion and ecommerce today.
I first became interested in who was solving the challenges in this market when I learned this: 67% of American women are plus-size, but only 18% of all apparel purchases are plus-size. That means two out of every three American women don’t have access to the clothes that they want to buy.
By looking at the typical fashion ecommerce site, you would never know it–the models on the home page of most retailers are not representative of the average American woman and the inventories at these retailers aren't reflective of these women's needs. The fit of plus-size clothes is one of the very reasons why women are so often dissatisfied with them–variations in proportions from bust to waist to hips aren’t the same as straight-size alternatives, and thus they are much more difficult to manufacture correctly.
Still, despite the disappointing supply, the current plus-size market is estimated to be more than $20B, having grown at twice the rate of overall apparel sales over the past five years. While plus-size clothing certainly exists, it exists in a disaggregated and un-curated format that lacks the community, style and discovery aspects that straight-size women have come to expect. In fact, 81% of plus-size women say they would buy more clothes if they had more and better options. That’s where CoEdition comes in.
Today, we’re proud to announce our investment in CoEdition, the first contemporary multi-brand site that exclusively serves women sizes 10 and above. CoEdition is using technology to create a personalized experience in this fragmented and underserved market. Through user-generated content, reviews and a strong editorial voice, women will have access to a community of like-minded shoppers who are eager to share style tips, inspiration and feedback. As a platform for all of the emerging plus-size brands, in addition to the many existing brands that want to expand into plus, CoEdition will become the go-to destination to understand how clothes look, fit and feel for women with body types that were formerly overlooked.
The launch of CoEdition represents a real turning point in fashion–plus-size clothing is no longer niche, it’s the norm. We believe that CoEdition will be instrumental in ultimately eliminating the term plus-size altogether as the fashion industry comes to serve women of all sizes equally. We’re excited to partner with a team that is laser-focused on using technology and merchandising expertise gained at Gilt to create a unique and empowering shopping experience for the average American woman.