When Good American launched as a direct-to-consumer brand in October 2016, it marked what was reportedly the biggest launch in denim history, with sales reaching upward of $1 million in just one day. The concept wasn’t groundbreaking: denim made to fit women. In the three years since, it’s expanded its focus while setting a new standard for size inclusivity.
Founded by CEO Emma Grede and social media-TV star Khloé Kardashian, Good American’s original focus was denim that fit all body types without alterations. Good American has since entered new categories, including activewear, bodysuits, dresses and maternity wear. It’s also continuously grown its size range.
Grede said the company’s customer base is always evolving, but Good American’s sweet spot has typically ranged from 20-45 years old. That’s skewed younger as the business has grown, with the brand adding a size 00 for its teenage customers. It offers sizes through 00 through 24.
“From day one, we’ve baked size inclusivity into our business model, and we’ve proven that brands can be fashion-forward and fully inclusive,” said Melissa Anderson, president of Good American.
While Good American began with four employees, the headcount has reached 83 people. Good American’s brand ambassadors who also double as models — together called the “Good Squad” — have reached 155 people. On Friday, the brand announced the launch of its fourth annual open casting call for the Good Squad. Women over the age of 14 can apply on the brand’s website through a form that asks for their Instagram handle. In the past three casting calls, Good American received more than 100,000 total entries.
The brand advertises through Instagram and has utilized billboards in the past. For example, it had four billboards in L.A. for a month timed to the launch of its Performance activewear collection in 2018.
Good American opened its first store in August, in Miami’s Aventura Mall, and it currently has a pop-up store at the Mall of America. Previously, it hosted pop-ups at the Americana at Brand in Los Angeles in 2017 and 2018, and VFiles in New York in 2017. The brand also sells product through wholesale partners including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges, Harrods, Zalando, 11 Honoré, Sport Chek and select Hudson Bay locations.
But it’s been careful about choosing retail partners. “In the past few years, there’s been a lot of noise in the body positivity movement and the inclusivity movement within the fashion industry, and people have just wanted to jump on the bandwagon. So we’ve tried to expand very carefully when it comes to our own business internationally and our wholesale partners to see that they’re adhering to everything we think is important,” said Grede.
From the get-go, Good American shipped globally, based on local demand for size-inclusive brands. The company now has a physical presence via wholesale partners in Australia, Canada and all throughout the Middle East. Good American declined to share sales figures, and the breakdown of its sales between direct-to-consumer and wholesale channels.
Good American has expanded to new categories based on retail partners’ demands, said Grede. “Our wholesale partners were saying to us that the offering was so limited for our customers and that there was space [in the market] to outfit her from head-to-toe.”
Along with head-to-toe, the brand started exploring how to dress customers from day-to-night, which led to the launch of activewear. “We never go into a category unless we think we can do what we’ve done from the beginning, which is introduce real innovation in fit and fabrication,” said Grede. The signature Good American fit is focused on its four-part waistband, which was designed in-house. According to the brand, the waistband eliminates common problems associated with jeans, including gaping at the waist, the constant need to tug and sagging.
Category expansion has been key to retaining Good American consumers. According to Grede, most customers start as Good American denim customers and eventually shop other categories.
Since Good American’s start, Grede and Kardashian have been directly engaging with customers, starting on Instagram and Facebook, where they sought out design feedback, before moving to customer surveys and in-person meetups in stores and at events. In the next year, the founders will be focused on the company’s retail expansion via its own stores and retail partners.
“We’re looking at all the ways we can be in touch with our customers all the time. You have to be able to take the information they’re giving you and make decisions in your business based on it. We’ve always really taken that to heart, [saying], ‘If the customer speaks, then we’ll act,'” said Grede. “I think a lot of the evolution of our brand has really come out of being great listeners, understanding what our customer really wants and making decisions based on what she wants,” said Grede.
That’s included making styles in size 15, a size Grede felt was largely missing from the market in between the 14 and 16 range. “The development of this size came from customer feedback and the high return rate we saw in sizes 14 and 16. Size 15 aims to bridge that gap by offering an additional size option for those customers that sit on the cusp of straight sizing and plus sizing,” said Anderson.