Help us learn more about you and your job. Take our short audience survey now for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.
Lingerie brands are gaining praise for their size diversity — ThirdLove offers 78 sizes, including half cup sizes, while Savage x Fenty stocks bras from 32A through 44DD and underwear from XS to 3XL. But some brands are proving that inclusivity is not about offering more sizes.
Chantelle Lingerie offers a range of bras and underwear in standard sizing, but the company has been leaning more into its Soft Stretch collection, made up of bras and underwear that cover sizes XS-XL in a single style, and 1X-4X in another. The collection has been around for three years, and is sold on Chantelle’s e-commerce platform and through retailers including Nordstrom, both online and in stores. The products have no underwire and are stitch-free, made from stretchable knit fabric (80% polyamide, 20% elastane) that’s said to mold to a woman’s body, not dig in and stay in place throughout the day. The brand did not share the details on the bras’ level of support.
“A lot of these newer brands are doing a great job of messaging these size ranges and inclusivity. Do you have to have half sizes to find the right fit, though? No. I think with the advent of more modern materials, the existing sizing structure [would suffice], but it’s a very compelling story that these brands are telling,” said Sonja Winther, regional director at Chantelle Lingerie.
Chantelle has seen most sales in its extended-size range, and it’s seeing the greatest growth in its Soft Stretch collection. The company sells one soft stretch product every 10 seconds, Winther said. To compare, DTC brand ThirdLove recently raised an additional $55 million in funding in February, and generates over $100 million in revenue annually.
While it took the company almost two years to perfect the collection and nail down sizing that would truly fit a diverse range of women with just two options, Winther said the benefits for the brand and its retail partners have been huge.
For one, offering fewer sizes drives down costs for the brand. When ThirdLove rolled out 24 new sizes in 2018, the brand’s co-founder and co-CEO, Heidi Zak, told Glossy that some of the new sizes cost 45% more to make. The increase in cost was due to things like incorporating thicker straps for added support. Despite the uptick in production costs for those bras, ThirdLove is selling them at the same price. With Chantelle’s Soft Stretch collection, those added costs aren’t a problem for the brand. The benefits are big for retail partners, as well.
“From retailers, it’s a better investment. There’s less waste, because inevitably the buyer doesn’t always buy the right number of XS or the right number of XL, and at the end of the season, there’s waste. There’s too much product, and then it ends up in landfills, but we don’t have that,” she said. It also leads to heavy discounting and products in clearance bins, something that Chantelle wants to avoid.
Other bra and underwear brands in the DTC space are following Chantelle’s path. On Wednesday, 2-year-old DTC lingerie company Harper Wilde, which has raised more than $2 million in seed funding to date, rolled out two new products: a bra and a bralette that are sold in seven sizes, XS to XXXL, which covers 32A through 42F. While the use of sizes from XS to XXXL isn’t unheard of in sports bras, Harper Wilde co-founder Jane Fisher said the shift into that sizing made the research and development process relatively simple — especially compared with the work the company had to do to create its three other products — strapless, push-up and T-shirt bras.
“We wanted to make sure that when we launched these products, we were able to serve all of the women that we are currently able to serve with our underwire bras, which go up to a size 42F. With underwire, it has all these permutations of bands and cups, so we actually did the harder styles first,” said Fisher. For the sports bra launch, the company did fit modeling on two sizes, medium and XXL, to ensure that women buying the larger sizes would feel comfortable and supported when wearing the new products.