At the beginning of this season’s New York Fashion Week, plus-size fashion retailer 11 Honoré hosted a kick-off to the week with a rooftop party celebrating the launch of its latest brand partner, Good American.
The launch of Good American marks the retailer’s first foray into denim and is part of a larger strategy to break into new categories as a means of expanding its audience and maintaining its healthy growth momentum.
“We launched with 14 brands, and now we are at 90 brands,” said Patrick Herning, CEO of 11 Honoré. “What we learned early on is that we have to demonstrate the supply side of the business. A lot of the brands we work with have been around for a while, and they want to know that [selling through 11 Honoré] is a good decision. Some of them have never done plus-size fashion before. In our first year, we could demonstrate our potential pretty well, but our challenge now is analyzing that data to see what’s performing and what’s not performing. It’s a really unique experience, because we are not a traditional big-box retailer. We partner with our brands as closely as we can to make sure their plus-size customer has the same experience as their straight-size customer.”
Along with new categories like denim, 11 Honoré has been focusing on expanding its range of price points, as well. When the brand first launched over two years ago, it primarily sold luxury and eveningwear. Now, based on feedback from customers and market research conducted by the company, the brand has made room for lower-priced items. Herning said the lower price point brands have been integral to bringing in new customers and driving up loyalty. While the company originally sold only higher-end brands like Naeem Khan or Prabal Gurung, where dresses can go for close to $3,000, new additions in the $200 to $300 range have been among the best sellers since they were introduced.
“As we’ve scaled and grown, the intention has always been to diversify the product assortment on the site while maintaining a platform where both super high-end designers and emerging talent could exist,” Herning said. “As a result, we started to incorporate great contemporary brands like Mara Hoffman. Introducing a big brand like Good American means an audience is being introduced to us for the first time.”
11 Honoré’s growth coincides with a general boom in the plus-size fashion market, which is expected to increase to $24 billion by 2020. Other brands and retailers in the market have expanded into new categories, as well, like Universal Standard, which recently launched footwear.
“Retailers want to be a one-stop shop, so it’s no surprise that plus-size retailers are branching out into new product categories,” said Avery Faigen, retail analyst at Edited. “With size inclusivity growing in the fashion industry, companies have to stay competitive and offer items like footwear and denim that customers might not be getting from other labels.”
To date, 11 Honoré has raised a $8 million round of funding from investors, led by ThredUp investor Redpoint Ventures, and it just completed another round. Herning said the amount of the latest fundraising round will be announced soon.
For brands like 11 Honoré, expanding into new categories is the logical next step to keep up plus-size fashion’s momentum.
“We’re growing 100% quarter-over-quarter,” Herning said. “We did a lot of testing last year, and then we leaned into certain areas of the business this year [like opening up lower price points]. We’ve reprioritized where to focus capital and where to focus time. The plus area has done really well recently, with lots of new brands and new stuff coming out from Universal Standard, Eloquii, all those brands. The investors get excited for market creation. I’m most excited for figuring out a shoe partnership and introducing private labels soon.”