Why did LYCRA® brand create a Plus Size collection of technologies for hosiery and seamless leggings?
The number of women considered overweight based on Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements is growing by staggering numbers - especially in the United States. In 1985, the average size for U.S. women was a size 8. Today, the average size is 14-16, which is considered plus size. We understand the hosiery market and the challenges today’s plus size woman faces trying to find quality garments that are comfortable, fit well, and are fashion forward. We see these challenges as an opportunity for our customers to leverage our technologies to meet the needs of plus size women and increase their sales.
Can you tell us a bit about the products you’ve included in the Plus Size collection?
• LYCRA® XCEPTIONELLE TECHNOLOGY eliminates panels and seams to create a more comfortable and attractive garment that accommodates a fuller figure. This special construction is paired with LYCRA® SOFT COMFORT technology (T902C fiber) to make this technology a must-have for plus-size hosiery collections
• LYCRA® BLACK TECHNOLOGY provides durable, true black color with no grin-through or glitter
• LYCRA® LEG CARE TECHNOLOGY delivers graduated compression to energize tired legs and increase comfort (The consumer-facing brand is LYCRA® ENERGIZE technology)
• LYCRA® FUSION™ TECHNOLOGY creates run/ladder-resistant garments to increase wear life
• LYCRA® MADE TO FIT YOU TECHNOLOGY creates knee-highs and now thigh-highs that fit a variety of leg sizes. Plus size women can experience enhanced comfort and stay-up power without digging in
• LYCRA® T400® TECHNOLOGY gives greater, more durable stretch and recovery, and a softer, smoother hand. The fiber’s unique structure also provides moisture-wicking benefits to keep the wearer cool and dry
• THERMOLITE® FAR INFRARED TECHNOLOGY is a new innovation that utilize special ceramic pigments to raise the temperature of the garment, coupled with energy of the body to produce a warmer leg in cold weather
How has the plus size hosiery market evolved over the years?
Unfortunately, for many years, larger brands/retailers - especially ones with bricks and mortar stores - viewed plus size consumers as a small niche market that didn’t really have much interest in being stylish. This meant they stuck to basic styles and the only color hosiery came in was black. Plus size consumers could see they weren’t putting in any effort to appeal to them. This led to consumer dissatisfaction, which made it possible for smaller brands and online retailers to enjoy great success offering on-trend hosiery designed to meet the needs of plus size women. Now larger brands have taken notice of this success and are developing their own collections. Our new Plus Size Collection makes it easy for brands/retailers to leverage our hosiery technologies to create hosiery with fashion appeal for curvy women.
What is the state of the plus size hosiery market today?
The market is growing, but this community is still underserved. That’s why we developed this collection. We understand the hosiery market and the plus size consumer. We want to help brands and retailers harness our technologies to create hosiery with the comfort, fit, ease of movement and performance benefits this consumer desires. Today’s full-figured woman is sophisticated and confident. You can’t win her business by taking a regular size garment and adding more fabric. We’re providing all the tools and technical expertise you need to make your next plus size collection a success!
How has the plus size consumer’s expectations changed over the years?
I don’t think her expectations have really changed. Plus size women want what they’ve always wanted - comfortable, well-fitting hosiery that is beautiful and makes them feel beautiful too. What has changed is that mainstream brands and retailers have realized they can’t afford to ignore this growing community any longer.
What kind of growth are you seeing in this population?
In 2017, 75% of US women are considered overweight or obese with a 50/50 ratio between each category; Western Europe has a 30/70 ratio of overweight to obese women. This population is projected to continue to grow through at least 2022. This is a huge business opportunity for any hosiery brand. Our goal is to make legwear more inclusive to meet the needs of this underserved community while maximizing profits for our customers.
I’ve only been working with the legwear team for one year, I wanted to see how far we could go to meet the needs of an underserved market. Every year, INVISTA’s Legwear Group puts together a highly anticipated trend forecast for the industry. This special collection was developed following the same workflow as our typical trends forecast. Stijlinstituut Amsterdam provided creative direction regarding the capsule collection and we worked closely with them to find the best INVISTA technology to bring each trend to life. Once Contifibre Lab produced the prototype garments, we had a fit model come in to the Advanced Research Center in Delaware and we made any necessary adjustments. This has been a real team effort and it all came together beautifully.
You’ve just started to present this collection to customers, what has the feedback been so far?
It’s been very positive. People love the variety of colors and styles showcased in the capsule collection. We’ve already had interest from maternity and plus size brands that are developing collections based on these technologies. I look forward to presenting the collection to more customers to see how these technologies inspire their hosiery designs.
What have you like best about working on this project?
Until a year ago I worked exclusively on product testing and certification, since moving to the legwear group I am adding another dimension to my current responsibilities. It has been new and exciting to me. I’ve loved learning the process of developing the collection and seeing a designer’s idea become a prototype. But what I’ve really enjoyed is being able to play a part in helping fashion be more inclusive to accommodate the needs of all women.
Is there one clear takeaway you’ve learned from this project that you’d like to share with brands/retailers?
Yes. Full-figured, fashion-conscious women want access to the latest hosiery trends too! There’s an assumption or bias that these women are ashamed of who they are and that they’re fine with a limited selection of styles and colors. This simply isn’t true, and a growing segment of the population continues to be dissatisfied with the hosiery choices available to them. Curvy women can be confident and comfortable in their own skin too. They also love color and patterns, so you shouldn’t limit your plus size collection to the basics. Our Plus Size Collection provides cutting-edge solutions that will help you create fashionable and appealing hosiery collections that deliver comfort and fit to a wide variety of body types. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to add value to your plus size collection and build your business by satisfying the needs of this growing segment of the population.
Contact Tammie today to learn more about INVISTA fiber and technology solutions that enhance the plus size wearing experience to increase consumer satisfaction and build brand loyalty!
LYCRA®, T400®, ENERGIZE™ and FUSION™ are trademarks of INVISTA.