Loft to discontinue plus-size offering
Questioned by its customers on social media, fashion retailer Loft has confirmed that it is dropping plus-size clothing just three years after first rolling it out.
Responding to posts from shoppers who had noticed a reduction in its plus-size offering, the retail chain made the following statement on its official Twitter account on Sunday: “Due to continued business challenges from the last year, we have had to make some very difficult decisions, which has impacted our go-forward sizing. Come fall, our size offering will be 00-18/XXS - XXL. We sincerely apologize for any disappointment.”
The announcement was met with widespread disappointment, and the company’s social channels, including its Twitter and Instagram accounts, continue to be flooded with comments and messages criticizing the decision or asking the retailer to reconsider.
Loft first launched plus sizes on its e-commerce platform in early 2018 and received an overwhelmingly positive response. Part way through the same year, the retailer was already announcing that it would make its plus-size offering available in store, reflecting strong demand from its customers.
However, Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on a wide range of retailers, and fashion has been one of the hardest hit sectors by the pandemic.
In terms of the specific “business challenges” cited by Loft, the brand’s former parent company was pushed to bankruptcy by the health crisis and was forced to sell its premium and plus brands, including Loft, Ann Taylor, Lou & Grey and Lane Bryant, to Premium Apparel, an affiliate of private equity firm Sycamore Partners, in December of last year.
Furthermore, there are signs that the plus-size category has had a particularly tough time during the pandemic.
“Because this market was smaller to begin with on the supply side, the same macro dynamics have had a disproportionate impact on the brick-and-mortar retailers,” explained Dia & Co CEO Nadia Boujarwah in a discussion with MarketWatch in November 2020. “We estimate that, just since Covid arrived, 30% of the retail stores that cater to plus-size women have closed permanently.”
There is, however, still hope for the future of the category. While recognizing the “massive loss” experienced by the segment since the onset of the pandemic, a report published by Allied Market Research in December predicted that the plus-size clothing market will total almost $700 billion by 2027, representing a CAGR of 5.9%.
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