In August, blogger Chastity Garner wrote a compelling takedown of Target — announcing her decision to boycott the retailer for failing to offer its popular designer collections in plus sizes.
That boycott is coming to an end.
On Wednesday Target announced Ava & Viv, a new fashion brand designed specifically for "the plus-size woman who loves fashion." The line, designed by Target's in-house team, offers clothing in sizes 14W to 26W and X to 4X and will be available online and in stores come mid-February.
The retailer invited Garner and two other plus-size bloggers to its Minnesota headquarters to sample the line. "It looks beautiful on my body type and my shape," Garner says in a video chronicling their visit.
In spite of its far from perfect relationship with plus-size fashion — Target's site displayed plus-size offerings on maternity models and described a plus-size dress as "manatee gray" (the "normal" dress was "dark heather gray") — its strategy thus far with the Ava & Viv line could actually teach other retailers about how to better approach selling plus-sized clothing.
First of all, Target is emphasizing that the clothing line will make trendy design choices a priority.
"This guest is really a fashion-forward woman who happens to be a plus size," merchandising SVP Stacia Andersen told Women's Wear Daily. "When we put out pieces that stand out a little more, items that are more chic, more trend-driven and more statement in nature, they tended to perform."
Even though though the plus-size demographic makes up 37% of U.S. consumers, it only makes up 15% of the clothing industry's sales because most labels don't design for the lucrative market, Fast Company reports.
And when they do design plus-size clothing, the available styles are rarely fashion forward.
"I am horrified by some of the clothes I find in the stores,” stylist Sal Perez explained told New York Times when explaining her difficulties in trying to dress Rebel Wilson for her role in Pitch Perfect 2. “I don’t know anyone who enjoys wearing polyester.”
Actress Melissa McCarthy decided to launch a fashion label after interacting with six different designers who wouldn’t dress her for the Oscars.
Target is also selling the clothing at a reasonable price point, between $10 and $79.99. This is a striking contrast to stores like Old Navy, who recently came under fire for charging more for plus-size items.
Marie Claire contributing editor and plus-size blogger Nicolette Mason joined Garner to sample the line and also shared her thoughts in Target's video.
"It's good to know that a brand is listening," she said.