Karl Lagerfeld knows well the pain of loving clothes that don't fit you. When Hedi Slimane designed for Dior Homme in the early aughts, Lagerfeld said he was inspired to pursue what would be a more than 90-pound weight loss in just over a year to fit into Slimane's designs.
Today, it's not bodies that need adjusting, but rather the size of the clothes themselves, bucking the outdated thinking. That's why online personal styling service Stitch Fix is teaming up with Karl Lagerfeld Paris in an exclusive design partnership to off Karl Lagerfeld Paris in plus sizes for the first time, coinciding with Karl Lagerfeld Paris's U.S. expansion.
Karl Lagerfeld Paris (KLP), the eponymous, accessible brand the German creative icon launched in 2016 as part of his branded empire, began offering 15 classic feminine styles — think tweed blazers, pearl embellished knits, floral printed midi skirts — for Stitch Fix starting in April, with a refresh in May, followed by a new collection of fall options in August. Prices range from $39 to $148 (mid- to low-range prices compared to Stitch Fix’s existing offerings) and include sizes 1X to 3X and 14W to 24W.
Though KLP may be new to the plus-size market, the space is becoming increasingly competitive, as online only and brick-and-mortar retailers are waking up to the sales potential of the $20 billion-plus market opportunity. But what is it that makes Stitch Fix the best partner for Karl Lagerfeld Paris?
Stitch Fix has among the most robust plus-size offerings of any clothing subscription service, something that has been a focus for chief executive Katrina Lake. When Stitch Fix launched plus-size in February 2017 — a long-awaited moment for the more than 75,000 women on the company's plus-size waitlist — it did so with roughly 75 brands, and has more than doubled its plus-size offerings across styles and price points in the year since, according to the company. That kind of roster gives the company leverage when approaching other brands to become exclusive plus-size partners.
With a deep well of data about consumer preferences and sizing — not to mention the stacked bench of plus-size options that make it a destination for shoppers — Stitch Fix is an attractive option for brands who've yet to enter plus-size to partner. "Karl Lagerfeld Paris is excited to offer the Stitch Fix customer an exclusive opportunity to enter our world," a spokesperson said via email. "Our partnership gives the opportunity for more American women to be part of a revolution in style and technology."
Of course, other companies offer plus-sizes in their subscription services. Stitch Fix's biggest competitor in this space, Amazon, has Amazon Prime Wardrobe, which allows users to fill a box with items of their choosing and try on at home risk-free. (Compare that to Stitch Fix, which uses a combination of algorithm and personal stylists that curate a selection for you.)
While Amazon is trying its best to convince buyers it can be a fashion company, too, it still has a brand equity problem. Some analysts worry about "lax knock-off policies" that make it easy to find fraudulent and counterfeit products on the platform, ultimately making it less attractive to names like KLP, which rely on strong branding.
Aside from Amazon, there are a handful of other retailers in on the subscription box game, though some — Le Tote Select, Wantable and Daily Look — don't offer plus-size at all. Trunk Club, which does offer plus-size in its boxes, still isn't quite as comprehensive in their offerings as Stitch Fix. Trunk Club is owned by Nordstrom, which is among the weakest in its offerings of plus-size dresses compared to its competitors JC Penney and Kohl's.
Dia & Co., a subscription service which caters exclusively to the plus-size market, might have also been a fit for KLP, since their price points are already in alignment. (On average, an item in a Dia & Co. box costs $55.) But Dia & Co. doesn't have nearly the reach — nor the financial backing — that Stitch Fix, which went public in November 2017, does. Gwynnie Bee, another exclusively plus-size retailer that has its own subscription service, is priced lower than KLP and again, doesn't quite match Stitch Fix's reach.
In addition to offering the most options to plus-size shoppers, Stitch Fix also garners the most attention on social media for both its subscription service as well as its plus-size boxes. Charting data from 2012 to 2018, consumer insights firm Crimson Hexagon found that discussions about apparel subscription box services have exploded in the last year, especially in the plus-size space, with Stitch Fix being the clear frontrunner.
Across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, posts about Stitch Fix's plus-size boxes makes up 94 percent of the share of posts, ahead of Trunk Club, ModCloth and Amazon Prime Wardrobe. As Olivia Deng, Crimson Hexagon analyst puts it: "Stitch Fix dominates both the subscription box brands conversation and the plus-size subscription box brands conversation."
Stitch Fix might be leading the pack when it comes to plus-size offerings, but that hasn't discouraged other players from rising to the occasion. No matter who comes out ahead of the race to be the go-to plus-size shopping destination, everyone wins.