Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
On February 27th, Stitch Fix — an online personal styling service that will send you a box of clothes in the mail to try, then return or keep — will expand its selection to include plus-size. The new assortment will have merchandise from more than 90 brands and include sizes 14W through 24W and 1X through 3X. (Previously, the largest size was a 16 or XXL.)
According to Stitch Fix, there are more than 75,000 women on the waitlist (there’s currently a dedicated landing page for the launch, where you can add your email to sign up). Widespread interest makes a ton of sense: The shopping options for plus-size women, both online and in stores, are still very, very limited.
The company’s director of buying, Blake Schofield, explains that picking the merchandise was a three-pronged approach, and in some cases, Stitch Fix created new plus brands where they didn’t already exist. “Our team is focused on building the most comprehensive assortment in plus-sizes by partnering with brands who have plus experience, expanding our exclusive brands into this size range, and educating our vendor partners who are new to plus-sizes on fit,” she says. All in all, there are approximately 15 brands that launched plus-size options through the partnership. That’s 15 plus-size options that didn’t exist before.
Brands available now include Eloquii, Universal Standard, Kiyonna, Junarose, Slink Jeans, and City Chic, as well as plus options from the in-house brands Market & Spruce, Pixley, and 41Hawthorn. “We worked closely with all our vendor partners to create an assortment that offers diversity across style aesthetic and price point, with a strong focus on fit,” adds Schofield.
To make it work, Stitch Fix needed actual plus-size women with actual plus-size bodies to try on the clothes and give honest feedback, because providing a ton of options doesn’t mean anything if the clothes don’t fit right. For that, plus-size bloggers Allison Teng, Kristine Thompson, and Alexandra Thomas were all brought on as consultants.
“They really took a more hands-on approach,” says Kristine Thompson. “They wanted to know from our experiences what our gripes were with the plus-size industry: what we loved, what we didn’t love, what we wanted to see. It was much more extensive than just a regular launch.”
Kristine adds that her, Teng, and Thomas also helped educate the Stitch Fix team on how the entire package should come together. “We talked about not only fit, but how they should present everything in a way that makes sense for plus-size women,” she says. “They have a survey that you fill out so that they can figure out which clothes to send you, and so we were identifying body shape as opposed to weight metrics, because everybody’s weight is distributed differently.” When it debuts, “plus-size” won’t be its own separate category outside of “men” and “women,” and women who straddle the line between straight and plus-sizes will be able to seamlessly move between both departments.
All that said, one of the most exciting things about the launch is definitely the variety. The decision to add plus wasn’t just tacking on a few brands for appearance’s sake, but instead introducing a truly robust range. (When we spoke, Teng specifically called out the extensive options for denim.) In a world where the same handful of plus-size brands are always featured in magazines and shopping roundups, Stitch Fix’s extended assortment makes it a lot easier for women to decide for themselves what they want to wear based off of personal taste and not just limited availability.
“They offer brands that you really can’t get anywhere else,” says Thompson. “They have plus-size offerings that some of these designers don’t normally make, but are making for their customers so they can make sure they have a huge variety of options.”
Stitch Fix’s launch doesn’t solve one big problem for plus-size shopping, in that it’s still nearly impossible to physically try on a wide variety of clothing in a single store. What you can do instead is work with one of the 200 stylists that are focused on the plus-size additions to create a personalized delivery tailored to your body shape and style preferences. But it’s certainly a big step forward in the right direction.