Retailers working with influencers on capsule collections, or selling their namesake clothing lines, is becoming increasingly common, but it's hard not to notice that most of those influencers have a...similar look, from Something Navy to Gal Meets Glam to Atlantic-Pacific. Influencer brands like theirs tend to sell out quickly and be massively successful, so it makes sense that retailers would want a piece of that magic, especially in today's volatile landscape. But so far, even if those brands are available in a wide range of sizes (which, thanks to Nordstrom, they often are), there are still people who aren't seeing themselves in those influencers. Take, for instance, the majority of American women, who wear a size 14 or larger.
11 Honoré is aiming to change that. The pioneering, year-old online retailer, which carries women's luxury brands in sizes 10 through 20, launched its first-ever collaboration on Wednesday with influencer Nicolette Mason, and it's set to be the first of many. Mason, who has consulted with a number of brands on their plus-size offerings over the years, worked with New York-based label Veda, known for its leather jackets, on extended sizes of three pieces meant to be mixed and matched: a lilac leather moto style jacket for $998, a green and black midi-length wrap dress for $478 and a color block sweater in black, purple and a bold pink for $348.
"I knew that collaborations were going to be very important to the business," CEO and Founder Patrick Herning told me at a dinner celebrating the partnership Tuesday night in Los Angeles, where both 11 Honoré and Mason are based. "We have several in the pipeline." They'll include one with an influencer-slash-model planned for around Valentine's Day, followed by another with a model on a range of swimwear.
Mason developed an early friendship with Herning and became one of 11 Honoré's first customers. "I became a very early customer of the brand and also of Veda's extended sizes, and I met [Founder] Lydnsey Butler a while ago in New York because she's been really interested in extending her size range, and it just clicked," she explained.
"It was really this organic evolution of a friendship that led to the partnership," added Herning. "It embodies everything the company stands for; she's chic."
Mason, of course, already has her own clothing line, Premme, with fellow blogger Gabi Gregg, but feels that the more options there are in this space, the better it will be for everyone. "We feel like Premme will be truly successful when there's actually an abundance of brands in this space, and right now there aren't, so it's actually to all of our benefit to work together and develop relationships. We should all want each other to succeed," she said.
Just as Herning saw an opportunity in plus-size, he sees an opportunity to work with plus-size influencers. "No one has drawn a line in the sand to support it in this format before us," he said. "There's no shortage of brands and there's no shortage of influencers; there's a shortage of retailers [doing it]."
In a time when it's more important than ever for retailers to evolve, one has gotten a lot of bad press lately for its refusal to, particularly when it comes to inclusivity: Victoria's Secret. "As somebody who is responsible for a brand, you are responsible for evolving that brand and evolving that brand message. I found [Ed Razek's] comments out of touch, insensitive, unkind, irrelevant, unnecessary and mean-spirited," said Herning, referring to the L Brands CMO's interview with Vogue.com. "And when you are responsible for a brand, you can't treat the consumer that way."