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Being good is good business: The body size acceptance of fashion

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Being inclusive and accommodative of different types of people is generally regarded as a good thing. But is it good for business? In today's post we look at the 'Size India' project, and the positives and negatives it could have for the fashion industry.

Greater footfall, greater conversion

Allen Solly recently tried a project there they launched clothes for four different body types from slender to generously built. The move was greeted by a whopping 70% jump in sales. Bringing out clothes that more people can wear comfortably gets more people through the door, and makes the people who come in more likely to find something they like and buy.

Inventory management

Successful models in the fast fashion industry globally have generally adopted the model of selling limited SKUs (thereby reducing unnecessary pressure on inventory) for limited periods of time (thereby creating the urge to complete purchase) to grow their businesses. One challenge that the body size project will most likely bring in will be a larger number of SKUs needed for the same piece of clothing. Given the lack of sufficient data on the demand patterns of the segment, managing inventory properly here would become a problem, atleast in the initial phases.

Early entrants can build a moat:

In business, every where there is a problem, there is very likely an opportunity. The problem of inventory management discussed above, makes data on customers, and ability to predict mix and customer needs well a very strong competitive advantage. Madhura Fashion has already started adopting this practice by customizing store assortments to body shapes regionally. (Eg: Larger sizes are more popular in Punjab and Andhra Pradesh). Brands have also begun hiring data scientists to tackle this problem better.

E-commerce trying to show flexibility as well

Myntra recently announced alteration as a service, allowing free alteration services to folks who bought clothes on the website. Again a move to allow people to customize clothes based on their preferences, and one that looks rather altruistic, until you consider the 25-30% return rate e-commerce fashion players face, almost half of them due to incorrect size, which this move can reduce drastically.

All in all the fashion industry certainly seems to be on a path to be more inclusive and accommodative of body sizes, and the data seems to indicate that they will be better off for it.


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