Designer Jason Wu is the latest high-profile designer to collaborate across price points, with a new collection designed in collaboration with plus-size women’s brand Eloquii.
Announced earlier this year, the collection debuted on Wednesday. Wu’s trademark elegant styles are on display but at a markedly lower price point: around $100, compared to Wu’s personal brand with dresses typically selling for more than $1,000. Wu had been looking for an opportunity to design a plus-size collection, in keeping with his efforts to design for people outside of the narrow segment usually targeted by luxury fashion.
“It was about the right opportunity at the right time and with the right brand,” Wu said. “Eloquii’s fit expertise and fashion-first approach is what essentially led me to them.”
This is one of several recent collaborations Jason Wu has done across price points. Last year, the designer created six exclusive pieces for fashion box service Stitch Fix.
Jodi Arnold, vp of design and creative director at Eloquii, said, when designing plus-size clothing, it is important not to think of consumers in the targeted market as having any major differences from the rest of the fashion market in terms of style.
“It’s no different than launching any other category, like kids’ or men’s,” she said, in an interview with Glossy earlier this year. “You see if there’s demand, you do the fit testing, you create new patterns, you manufacture it. It takes investment to launch any new category, but if a brand sees the customer as worth it, then they should pay for it.”
This philosophy, that plus-size consumers are interested in the same styles and designs, is part of what brought Wu and Eloquii together. Previously, Jason Wu’s main lines, Jason Wu and Jason Wu Grey, did not offer many sizes outside of the standard high-fashion size range of 0 to 10. But earlier this year, they expanded to size 14.
“Both Eloquii and Jason Wu [cater to a] powerful and confident woman looking for on-trend, sophisticated styles that embrace the female silhouette,” Arnold said. “This collaboration felt like a natural next step, integrating Eloquii’s fit expertise with Jason Wu’s beloved modern and forward-thinking design approach to deliver luxury at an affordable price point within the plus market.”
The push toward more plus-size clothing has been seen across the fashion industry. While much of the focus has been on women’s fashion, men’s brands have also pushed their sizing options. Notably, casual DTC brand Bonobo’s began offering pants ranging to size 54, up from a size 40; jackets and blazers to a size 54, up from size 46; and sweaters and shirts to 4XL, up from XXL.
On the other end of the spectrum, brands like 11 Honoré, which has worked with Jason Wu, are working to not only create and provide plus-size products but also to build up the audience for plus-size luxury clothing in general. Earlier this summer, 11 Honore launched Page 11, an editorial platform focused on creating content and building an audience among plus-size fashion consumers around luxury.
The collaboration between Jason Wu and Eloquii also comes less than a month after Walmart announced plans to acquire Eloquii, firmly committing itself to plus-size fashion, for a rumored $100 million. As brands, designers and retailers across fashion’s price spectrum come together, one thing is clear: Plus-size clothing is a major new category for even the most prestigious of brands — it’s a long time coming, considering the average woman in America wears between size 14 and 16.
“Inclusivity in sizing is not just another industry trend,” said Sarah Engel, CMO of retail analytics company DynamicAction, earlier this month. “As an industry, we talk a lot about ‘customer centricity’ — providing the sizes, the fit and the quality your customer expects and deserves is paramount to fashion retailers succeeding in the years ahead. This is not a subsegment or outlying market, but the core of U.S. apparel consumers, in every market that Walmart operates and online.”