Since founding Dia & Co five years ago, we have contributed to and watched the apparel market transform meaningfully, but the change in the last year far surpasses anything we have seen before. In 2020, there was so much progress in representation and inclusion, but at the same time, a drastic reduction in options for the plus-size consumer. We’re launching the State of Inclusive Fashion Report to share consumer insights with you, start conversations, and ultimately drive change to create a more inclusive industry.
It’s no surprise that COVID has had a profound impact on the apparel market. Across the board, consumer spending on clothing and accessories fell in Q2 to the lowest levels ever recorded since the data started being tracked by the Fed.
With a smaller base of retail options, to begin with, the plus-size market, serving 67% of women in America, has been particularly hard hit leaving our consumer with a retail desert. The category has permanently changed: Some of the largest names in specialty-plus retail have gone bankrupt, and independent brick-and-mortar stores are closing in droves.
At the same time, we’ve been hearing from our community of more than 5 million that their needs have also changed. From how she shops to what she purchases, consumer behavior has shifted, and will likely continue to do so in the quarters ahead.
Here are our top three takeaways from Q4 2020:
• Over 30% of plus-size specialty doors permanently closed in the last three quarters of 2020. We expect this reduction in store footprint to be permanent, rapidly accelerating a shift online.
• In the near term, her spending has shifted dramatically to easy to wear, lounge, and athleisure driven pieces and away from rigid denim, dresses, and suiting.
• The opportunity in inclusive fashion was over $100bn at the outset of the pandemic, and now we believe it is even larger, especially in dedicated digital experiences. With pent up demand and fewer options, there is great opportunity for retailers to serve this customer.
Now more than ever, our market is in flux. A dedicated and authentic approach to this community has never been more important to realize its full potential and bring this consumer fully to the table. We are excited to continue sharing our insights as we work to expand the options available to our community and establish inclusive fashion as a focal point for an industry in need of progress.
Nadia Boujarwah, Founder & CEO, Dia & Co
In 2020, across the industry, her shopping experience has changed meaningfully as a result of the global pandemic.
Her in-store shopping has decreased dramatically. Less than one third of shoppers have been in an apparel store more than once or twice since the pandemic began. One eighth would not even consider it. The impact of the pandemic has intensified the importance of some elements of serving this customer while also introducing new ones.
The stats show that 67% of women in the United States wear plus-size clothing and 100,000,000 women wear sizes outside of retail’s mainstream—size 14 or larger. And while $24bn was spent in 2020, that’s only 13% of the overall women’s apparel market.
Getting our community to shopping parity represents over a $100bn annually—the biggest opportunity for growth in apparel retail today. It’s also good business. Everybody should have access to stylish clothing that makes them feel good.
Fit is the most important factor in her purchase decision. She values fit and style and relies on trusted brands and experts to guide her in this, especially without the in-store experience.
• Loungewear and leggings were up 50% in Q4 2020, relative to 2019.
• Outerwear spend is up 30% which we believe reflects more time outside during the pandemic.
• By contrast, her spending across denim, dresses, and suiting has declined as a result in the lifestyle shift.
Unlike most years, Q4 spending across the category looked like previous quarters of the year reflecting her continued focus on “buying for the now.” We do not anticipate a large rebound for the in-store experience for the plus consumer.
In 2020, our market was in flux
• Over 30% of plus-size specialty doors permanently closed in the last three quarters of 2020.2
• Over 40% if you look at the same metric starting in the fall of 2019.
We expect this reduction in store footprint to be permanent, rapidly accelerating a shift online. COVID’s impact on the market and eCommerce, especially, represent a growing opportunity in the category. In addition to a continued focus on exceptional product and inclusive marketing, the key to growth will be a digital experience that allows for fi confidence and discovery to fill the gap left behind by a rapidly shrinking store base.
The headlines that most shaped the conversation for inclusive fashion in Q4.
Dia & Co is the fashion destination for the modern woman who wants a thoughtfully curated selection from the best brands in sizes 10–32.
Rooted in a belief in the power of style to transform, the company offers a range of brands, styles and sizes, through the Dia & Co Shop and a personalized shopping experience through the curated Dia & Co Box. Dia & Co was built on the simple truth: amazing style is part of a life well-lived. When you find your style, both in fashion and in life, it changes everything. Dia & Co was founded by Nadia Boujarwah and Lydia Gilbert in 2015 to revolutionize the shopping experience for plus size women—an underserved group of more than 100 million women. Since then, the direct-to-consumer-company has built a dedicated and diverse community, working with millions of customers across all 50 states.