Target launches plus-size apparel line

Target (NYSE:TGT) will launch Ava & Viv in February, its first new apparel brand since 2008. The plus-size line also marks the company's first apparel brand created from the ground up in several decades.

Rather than cater to a wide range of consumers, the line will focus in on plus sizes, a void Target thought needed to be filled, reported Women's Wear Daily. Last summer, Target announced it was working on a plus-size clothing line as part of its initiatives to improve the customer experience.

The rapidly growing market is now worth $17.5 billion annually, and while Target declined to discuss sales predictions for Ava & Viv, its current in-house brands do at least $1 billion a year in sales.

Other retailers that have recently tried to get into this growing market include Wet Seal (NASDAQ:WTSL), which last summer launched Wet Seal+, a new line of stores geared almost exclusively toward young plus-size shoppers. Around the same time, flash-sale site Ideeli announced it was revamping plus-size offerings through shops, branded events and on-trend sales.

The line will feature sizes from 14W to 26W and X to 4X. And the company's existing brands will go up to size 18 and 19 in juniors. The range of Merona and Mossimo plus sizes online will also expand.

"The plus-size market is large and it's growing," Stacia Andersen, senior VP of merchandising for apparel and accessories at Target told Women's Wear Daily. "We feel Target has an opportunity to capture a larger share of the market. We have an opportunity to provide a better experience to the plus-size guest. The experience will be much more distinct and much more compelling. We can increase our share of the market and become more distinct and declarative by offering something that we feel doesn't currently exist."

Target conducted focus groups with plus-size shoppers and many complained that they wanted to partake in the same trends as other shoppers, rather than the typical bland and boring, larger-sized options. Experts say it takes about a year for a trend to finally reach the plus-size market.

In order to market the new line and gain traction in the plus-size community, Target has teamed up with three bloggers, Gabi Gregg, Nicolette Mason and Chastity Garner Valentine, who hold a lot of sway in the plus-size fashion community and have been pushing retailers to offer more stylish options.

In December, Target flew the women to Minneapolis to meet with the Ava & Viv team and Target paid them to be models in the look book, reported the Star Tribune.

For more:
-See this Women's Wear Daily article (subscription)
-See this Star Tribune article

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