Wet Seal (NASDAQ:WTSL) has announced the launch of Wet Seal+, a new line of stores geared almost exclusively toward young plus-size shoppers.
Wet Seal+ will carry sizes 14 through 24 and already has locations planned for 15 states such as California and Texas, as well as Puerto Rico. The development follows the phasing out of Wet Seal's Arden B brand. As Arden B winds down operations, Wet Seal has taken the opportunity to capitalize on the shift and redirect focus to different underserved customer demographics, such as plus-sized women. Many of the Arden B. store locations are refurbished as Wet Seal+ stores.
"We couldn't be more excited about providing an environment where girls can shop for fashion in every size," said John Goodman, CEO, Wet Seal. "Naturally there is a business opportunity in providing plus-sizes, however it's a great accomplishment to work on a project that you professionally and personally endorse."
As part of the opening festivities, Natural Model Management will be providing girls with fashion, beauty, health and online image tips via their extensive online community. Wet Seal+ has been in the works for a few months now. A Wet Seal+ test store has even remained open in Clovis, California since September of 2013.
The move into the plus-size market for Wet Seal isn't surprising. After steadily declining sales since the fourth quarter of 2014, Wet Seal has been gearing up to retarget merchandise and cut extraneous assets such as the Arden B brand. With Arden B out of the picture, Wet Seal can begin focusing on new demographics that fit their core customer base.
The plus-size women's clothing business had an estimated worth of $16.2 billion at the end of fiscal 2013 in November, as well as an annual growth of 7.2 percent, according to Forbes. There's a lot of potential for turnaround in this underserved group, and Wet Seal hopes to capitalize on the growth of this market.
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