Building onto already ample success, companies are making efforts to bolster the message that plus size has panache. Getting beyond size-focused bras, they're going full force with fashion-based imagery and styling, and they're gaining new customers.
"Intimates will continue to be a strong performer in 2002," says Chris Peterson, general merchandise manager of intimate apparel at Lane Bryant. She adds that bras will be strong, stressing that, "fashion and newness will continue to be the main forces driving the business."
The industry is working to further reinforce the message to the plus-size consumer that she's not alone, that she's acceptable and--es, sexy, and it is marketing product that gives her style options. New plus-size bras are a far cry from the chaste, white numbers becoming relics of the past-even in brands as conservative as Playtex. Results are dramatic.
"Business has been very strong. For the past four years we've seen double-digit growth, definitely outperforming the market, which has been very flat," says Tracy Ledgerwood, marketing manager for Just My Size.
Retailers from mass to specialty saw double-digit growth in bras. At Ames, plus-size bras are an increasing percentage of overall bra sales. "By far, they are the bestperforming category in intimates," with double-digit growth in fall 2001, says Sandy Sansavera, Ames' general merchandise manager and senior vice president. "Full figure has gone from 20 percent of my bra business to 27 percent."