Yesterday, Refinery 29 and Lane Bryant hosted a Twitter chat with the hashtag #AskLaneBryant, in which customers could ask creative marketing officer Brian Beitler questions about the business.
Lane Bryant, a subsidiary of Ascena group, is not known for its cutting edge fashion. What it is known for, however, is its no-holds-barred ad campaigns. The company made waves with its “I’m No Angel” campaign, which was a direct blow at Victoria’s Secret and its eponymous angels. The campaign went viral. (Last night during Victoria’s Secret iconic fashion show, Lane Bryant continued its fight against Victoria’s Secret; it posting a series of tweets, calling the evening “the sexiest night ever” alongside photos of its models.)
This fall, Lane Bryant launched another campaign — #PlusIsEqual — perhaps in hopes to replicate the success of its previous campaign. Once again, Lane Bryant solidified its reputation as a place where larger women could be welcome, a haven for women who were snubbed by major retailers.
But the chat proved that battle cries of equality aren’t enough to get women to shop. They need to actually like the clothes.
It’s a common complaint among curvy women that the clothes sold to them are ugly.
Last year, ModCloth conducted a survey last year with the help of Paradigm Sample to highlight grievances of plus-size-women shoppers.
Unsurprisingly, 92% agreed with the statement “I get upset when I can’t find cute clothes in my size.”
A majority of women surveyed agreed with the statement “the retail industry ignores the needs of plus-size women.” And only 28% of women agreed with the statement “plus-size women are included in the fashion community.”
More than half of the women sampled called plus-size offerings “frumpy” and “shapeless.”
Companies that pat themselves on the back for expanding their plus size offerings are often faced with criticism, too. When Target launched its plus size line Ava & Viv, Jezebel writer Lindsay Louise described it as “meh.” Ultimatley, offering the apparel isn’t enough.
That’s not to say that body positive marketing campaigns aren’t a strong way to pull in sales — Aerie is a great example of this, with its airbrush-free “Aerie Real” campaign. But Aerie also has a product that young women like; in the most recent quarter alone, the company’s comparable sales skyrocketed 21%. (And to be fair to Beitler, he works in Lane Bryant’s marketing department, not its design sector.)
Lane Bryant already sells plus size clothes — and it’s likely that women are upset because if anyone is nailing plus size fashion, it should be a company that only sells plus size apparel.
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