Brands have struggled to become a fashion source for women wearing clothing beyond size 12. Now, two retailers that have built out the plus-size category with big-name brands are merging, becoming a one-stop shop.
On Wednesday, 7-year-old plus-size fashion e-tailer Dia & Co. announced the acquisition of its luxury fashion-focused counterpart, 11 Honoré. Both companies declined to share the financial specifics of the deal.
“We have always believed that plus is a team sport,” Nadia Boujarwah, Dia & Co. co-founder and CEO told Glossy. “The experience we are architecting for our customer, one where she has the ability to shop without style or brand limitations, has never existed before and it takes a partnership to build.”
According to Patrick Herning, founder of 11 Honoré, “[Boujarwah’s] expertise in the category coupled with our brand positioning is a match made in heaven. We’re set to be ‘the’ destination to serve this customer, serving her holistically, from T-shirts to Carolina Herrera. That mitigates all frustration, all friction, all challenges [for our customer].”
Both companies have remained strictly focused on catering to women that have been underserved, with Dia & Co. specializing in sizes 10-32 and 11 Honoré offering sizes 12-24. That’s as retailers and brands including Nordstrom and Universal Standard have prioritized providing the same shopping experience to women of all sizes, in rejection of the age-old setup of a separate plus-size department.
According to Dia & Co.’s March 2021 State of Inclusive Fashion Report, 100 million American women, or 67% of the female population, wear size 14 or larger. At the same time, in 2020, sales of styles in sizes 14-plus accounted for just 13% of the women’s apparel market.
Personal styling has been at the center of Dia & Co’s business model since Boujarwah and Lydia Gilbert launched the company. In addition to operating as a typical e-commerce site, allowing shoppers to independently add to cart, it offers one-off curated boxes of styles and a box subscription based on a style quiz. Its marketplace sells styles by mass and DTC brands including Madewell, ThirdLove and Eloquii.
Launched in 2017 by marketing agency veteran Herning, 11 Honoré came to market with a mission to co-develop and sell plus-size designer fashion amid rampant industry ‘sizeism’. Its assortment currently includes styles by Diane von Furstenberg and Tanya Taylor, among other high-end brands. Model Candice Huffine is an investor.
Effective immediately, 11 Honoré’s private label, 11 Honoré Collection, will be available to shop on Dia.com, while also continuing to sell on 11 Honoré’s e-commerce site. 11 Honoré’s full product catalog and online presence will be integrated onto Dia & Co.’s in the coming months.
According to Herning, the 11 Honoré Collection, developed in 2019 and centered on accessible basics, has had “everything to do with” 11 Honoré’s ongoing “measurable success, scale and growth with profitability” during the pandemic. Its price range is $25-$570, compared to 11 Honore’s partner brands’ $60-$5,000 range. Its second drop was centered on sweats.
Retailers have struggled to make a go of independently getting plus-size offerings off the ground, largely due to the challenges around marketing, according to Boujarwah. On Thursday, Old Navy announced its decision to scale back its pioneering Bodequality initiative, offering sizes 0-30 at its every sales channel. Loft, for its part, killed its plus business in fall of 2021.
“It’s unfortunately a pattern that has been repeated many times,” Boujarwah said, of the Old Navy news. “Developing well-fitting garments, getting the inventory and distribution right, and investing in the awareness required to make new offerings successful continues to represent a very tall order for brands.”
The partnership, which expands the customer base of both companies, creates a compelling proposition for brands as they consider entering the plus-size category, Herning said. “We have the eyeballs, we have the customer. All they need to do is invest in the product development.”
Herning, who had been chief brand officer of 11 Honoré, said his role moving forward will be founder. He noted that the creative and merchandising teams that built the 11 Honoré brand will join Dia & Co. under the agreement.
As for the timing of the sale, Herning said, “We over-indexed on brand, and we had challenges on customer acquisition. Plus, we had gotten as far as we could on our own. It was in the best interest of the business, our customers and our stakeholders to find a new home that would afford us the opportunity [to chart] our next phase of growth.”
In December 2020, Herning co-founded Thirteen Lune, an e-tailer selling beauty products by Black and brand founders. In July 2021, it inked a deal with JCPenney to help fill the beauty void left by Sephora, in its move to Kohl’s.