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To hit its next growth stride, denim and apparel brand Good American has to look beyond the passionate followers of famous co-founder Khloé Kardashian.

“We make a premium product. [Khloé’s] fan base will definitely come, and they’ll buy once, but they won’t buy time and time again,” said Emma Grede, Good American’s co-founder and CEO. “They’re also not just buying the product because Khloé is associated with it. You have to stand behind $170 jeans.”

Good American launched with a line of jeans available in sizes 00 to 24, without specifying that any styles were plus-size. To Grede, that terminology is as antiquated as fashion’s sizing system. Her brand mission — to build a company that bucks industry norms around sizing and fit, and in doing so, make a statement on modern body positivity — preceded the product. She said Good American was gathering followers before the products even dropped, but she knew the product had to live up to the story the brand was weaving.

Since the 2016 launch, Good American has begun selling in Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, in addition to online, and it recently launched its first athletic wear line. Grede joined the Glossy Podcast to discuss why mainstream sizing is outdated, why she didn’t want to sell only online and how online brands can thrive in a wholesale setting.

On evolving size and fit
Built into the Good American brand is an obsession around fit. To perfect it, the brand regularly turns to customers to test new product. Groups of three to 60 women will come to the Good American offices to try on and give feedback around new styles, and the brand also uses email surveys and social media to prompt feedback and ask questions. Being able to respond to that insight is critical.

“We needed to figure out things like why certain sizes had such different return rates, and that led us to rethink sizing altogether. Sizing is something that has not been well understood. It’s antiquated and was done a very long time ago. I’m sure it was a guy who decided on the women’s sizing scale,” said Grede. “So we’re constantly looking at the data for trends, and as soon as we see something in the data, we ask our customers, and then we make decisions. That drives things like new inseam lengths, more sizes. We’re in a fortunate position to do that, at great frequency.”

On changing the plus-size conversation
Part of Good American’s retail strategy was to sell to wholesale partners, but on one condition: They had to take every size in the range. The goal for the brand is to offer a different idea to customers around how plus-size women should dress.

“We’re in the fashion industry. Brands have to be honest that they don’t always want this customer. There’s the question of resources, as well — more fabric is going to cost more — but that was baked into our model from the beginning. It’s harder for brands to accept that if they make bigger sizes, they’ll make less margin — but if brands want to play in this space, they can do it.”

On the benefit of wholesale partners
Most DTC brands sidestep wholesale partners to make more money on sales and own the customer relationship. Grede said Good American included wholesale retail into its business from the beginning and sees it as a source of brand validation.

“People buy what they know, and they know what they see, so sometimes it’s about getting product physically in their faces,” said Grede. “The DTC experience is so wonderful because you can explain so much — we can tell a story that would be impossible to tell in wholesale — but what you can do in that space is great at the same time. Having our product next to other products is a huge benefit. The problem is when you’re all storytelling, and you’re all marketing, and your product doesn’t live up to it — if you put that in a wholesale environment, you’re dead.”

 

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