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