Women’s love affair with yoga pants shows no signs of slowing, and specialty retailer Lane Bryant has decided it's time that women of any size can look sharp when they work out. Called Livi Active, the new line takes a page from such “athleisure” brands as Lululemon and Athletica, offering essential pieces women can wear whether at the gym or on the go.
But while there are plenty of chic, specialty options for smaller-size women, plus-size shoppers — an estimated 50 to 60% of American women are size 12 or more — have pretty much been stuck shopping for sweats at Walmart or Target.
“We’ve been dressing her for a long time and taking care of what she really needs,” says Brian Beitler, Lane Bryant’s EVP of marketing. “She’s active, and she’s concerned about her health, so this seemed like a natural opportunity.”
He says that increasingly, Lane Bryant’s customers, which include women from their 20s to their 50s, “have an expectation about what’s available, and it doesn't make sense to her that she wouldn’t have the same options for things that every other woman needs. Her friends live this lifestyle, where they’re wearing activewear that transitions from gym to street to coffee shops. Why shouldn’t she be able to look as stylish as they do?”
NPD Group says sales of activewear in the U.S. amounted to about $35.1 billion in sales for the 12 months ended in October, an increase of about 8%. And sales of apparel in the women’s plus-size category, usually defined as size 18 or larger, were up 5% in the 12 months ended in April, to about $17.5 billion.
Lane Bryant has sold activewear in this past, but this is the first time it has offered an entire sub brand, and Beitler tells Marketing Daily that the Ascena Retail Group-owned company took its time, “wanting to get this right. It’s hard to get the right balance between fashion and function and form.”
Hornall Anderson’s Seattle office did the brand design, and the pieces, priced from $25 to $70, are “bright, bold, and vibrant, with lots of patterns and stripes. We wanted to make sure it had lots of energy.”
In addition to its traditional marketing vehicles, including email and social outreach through bloggers, “we also decided to use instore events at 150 of our stores,” he says, including giveaways, and links to health spas, as well as extensive window displays.