Dia&Co is expanding its plus-size subscription service to include activewear.
In an effort to help women over size 14 find clothing that better accommodates their fitness routines and active lifestyles, Dia&Co launched the Dia Active Box today, a service that sends customers five curated pieces selected by stylists. The items — which are selected based on user-provided data and preferences — include leggings, tops, sports bras, hoodies and shorts. Similar to Dia&Co’s traditional clothing service, users keep and pay for what they want and return the rest.
The boxes will feature items from the limited number of brands that currently sell extended-size athletic wear, including Lane Bryant, Beyond Yoga and Elomi. (Traditional athletic companies like Nike and Adidas, for example, only offer select items in sizes larger than XL, or a women’s size 16-18.) It will also exclusively feature the debut of EleVen by Venus Williams, the tennis star’s first collection of extended-size items, and pieces from Day/Won, a line designed by plus-size model Candice Huffine.
Though the women’s retail industry is slowly evolving to be more size-inclusive — for example, Nordstrom is pushing its brands partners to be more size-inclusive — activewear has been a different story, according to Dia&Co founder Nadia Boujarwah. Much as lingerie companies have lagged in introducing bra sizing beyond a size DD, athletic brands, she said, continue to overlook plus-size consumers. Further, the available options often lack the fit and functionality needed for high-intensity activities, ultimately leading to discomfort, which discourages women from participating in settings like public gyms.
“In this case in particular, it was really clear the next place our community wanted to be was in activewear, and that fitness and active overall are areas where size inclusivity hasn’t really taken hold,” she said.
By failing to provide extended sizing, athletic companies are missing out on a piece of the $22 billion plus-size fashion industry that is continuing to grow at a rate of 6 percent a year, according to NPD Group. Louise Green — a plus-size fitness instructor known as Big Fit Girl, who also lent her expertise to the Dia&Co campaign — wrote in Self that even brands that do claim to sell plus-size athletic clothing are really just “cotton loungewear masquerading as activewear.”
“We sweat, grind and give it our all just like everyone else, yet the lack of performance-focused apparel was a constant point of frustration. As someone who trains hard, I wanted the same performance, quality and style as my ‘straight-sized’ sisters,” she wrote in March.
In tandem with the debut of Active Box, Dia&Co also launched a national advertising campaign to announce the program with the help of a full-page advertisement in print newspapers in select markets. The tactic was also used by the brand during New York Fashion Week in February of last year, as part of an effort that urged fashion designers to offer more plus-size apparel. The Active Box campaign — which features Olympic athlete Shelbi Vaughan, YouTube dancing personality Lizzy Howell and CurvyCon founder CeCe Olisa — will also be distributed on Dia&Co’s digital and social channels. Dia&Co currently has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram.
Boujarwah said beyond helping shoppers access athletic apparel, the aim of Active Box is also to put a fresh face to fitness by showing a diverse range of women sharing their personal fitness stories. The company will host in-person events and activations across the country and an interactive digital fitness program led by Green, a response to feedback from Dia&Co subscribers that they don’t always feel comfortable in traditional fitness settings.
“One of the powerful pieces of feedback we’ve heard is that this is an area where our customer sees herself in fitness culture as a ‘before’ photo,” she said. “We want to showcase the obvious and simple fact that women of all sizes are living vibrant and active lifestyles.”