Lane Bryant’s Blogger Conference 2010 Opened Up New Doors Of Conversation And A Renewed Commitment To Their Customer

The Lane Bryant Blogger Conference 2010 opened up new doors of conversation and a renewed commitment to their customer.

Meeting with the merchants was especially informative for us because we were able to speak directly to the people who believe they know what we will wear. When it comes down to it, it’s all about who knows their customer the best.

Do you know that in the summer we don’t want to wear silk? Some of us sweat through our clothes, especially in NYC when you have to stand on a platform that is 100 degrees during the summer months. Shorts that don’t ride up are a delight and  well fitting pants are a girls dream. A skirt that is a little longer in the back so that it does not fall to the knee in the front but a mini-skirt in the back would be wonderful!

It seemed like this group of people, which consisted of two plus sized sisters, was especially interested in the feedback from the women. The Senior VP Apparel, Alice Hilliard said she encourages her team to visit the Easton store and help customers and speak to them in order to receive honest feedback about the clothing.

While speaking with the merchants the following questions were asked by some of our readers:

Question: Will you carry extended sizes in the stores?

Answer: Not this year but we can look into it.

Question: Will the cut of the garments ever change? It seems that the cut is very straight and can make us look boxy.

Answer: We are delivering our right fit program in denim and pants and will have three fits: curvy, moderately curvy and straight.

Question: Women that are larger than a size 2X find it difficult to buy off the rack at LB because the lengths in shirts do not take into consideration the larger middle of the woman, so the shirt ends up being a lot shorter than intended. Will special attention be made towards extended fit?

Answer: We have gone to single sizing in shirts which should help in that issue.

The next question basically summarizes the 55 comments we had  on our Facebook Fanpage. Most of it was about fit, style and prices.

Question: I want LB to concentrate really on three things: Fit, Functionality and Target Consumer

Answer: Fit is our #1 focus

Question: The fit on many of the items is more to plus size women who have a smaller frame or are petite. Those with a larger frame do not look good in the clothing because it appears too tight especially those with larger hips or breasts. When was the last time LB did an evaluation of their size chart to fit all women, not just the “skinny” plus size model shape?

*When speaking to the Merchants, this issue was raised and  as I understood it, they use a size 18 fit model and sample clothing is sent out to be worn for a period of time for feedback and tweaking before it ever hits the stores.

Question: Functionality, If LB is doing primarily casual and business wear, then that’s fine. But, sometimes pieces don’t work together and usually, a fit issue again, one part fits well and the other part, not so good. Plus, LB tends to run out of pieces. Also, the accessories (jewelry and now shoes) are quite “cheap” and breaks apart, fades or rusts too quickly. For the money one pays on a necklace, it should last at least to the end of the season. Question: Will LB restyle their clothing to suit the Plus size market of today?

Answer: We are currently looking at what is selling and how it is made and making sure all our fits work.

Target Consumer: If LB’s clothing is meant for the young girls under 35, then they should market as such. The clothing styles as of late do not compliment women above 35 or mothers around 25 – 30. The clothing styles are too young. Sometimes, even young girls need something a bit more classy. So, question: What is does LB consider at their target plus size consumer and if their target is to dress women of all age groups, when will they have pieces for the mature woman as well as for the young teens and adults?

* At the conference we were told, Lane Bryant is currently working on releasing a teen collection which will focus on the junior plus market therefore offering a more diverse style.

And now for my personal two cents. It was clear to me that Lane Bryant has had to look deep inside and realized that with the plus size industry offering more clothing,  plus size consumers are becoming more selective in what they wear.

I genuinely do not believe that Lane Bryant’s goal is to be the “Target” of plus sizes. I think that there is room for everyone and they are trying to define themselves in this market with their main focus right now being on getting the fit of the garments to be at it’s best. People mentioned other stores like Old Navy, Ashley Stewart and Evans in their post but I feel like this is exactly what the point of having variety is. We want to have the option to shop at stores that offer different styles.

Lane Bryant is very aware of the fit issues it has faced and is committed to getting it right. I think I heard that come out of every merchant’s mouth numerous times. The truth about plus size women, as I looked around the room, was some of us wore the very same size but looked completely different. Some of us carry our weight in our middle, or our bust and some are total pear shapes and just have big bottoms.

I personally can’t imagine designing for women that are deliciously curvy in so many ways. I like to be able to buy a garment off the rack, but some times that is not possible for me, and I make sure that I have it altered to fit me well. I’m very busty and carry some weight around my middle, and rear as well. In order to give definition to my waist, I find that I have to invest in having my tops or dresses altered the way I want them to fit me.

Once our meeting was over, the most fun part of our day was about to begin. Our Lane Bryant Makeovers!

We had a “before” picture taken and then our makeup and hair was done for the “after” photo. I must have been channeling “Snooki” from “The Jersey Shore”, but I was totally pleased because I went from total mom mode to more of an edgy Latina!

I was taken to a media room for a private interview, which is how they were able to make that video of all the bloggers speaking. It was nice to be able to voice my opinions freely and not feel judged. After my interview I said “Hi!” to Lizzie over Skype, who was in London on a shoot for a catalog. A lot of people do not know this but Luke and I shot Lizzie when she first signed with Willy MANY years ago. I can’t even imagine how old she must have been at the time but I know it was a long time ago so I dare say she may have been a teen-ager at the time. She was as sweet and stunning then as she is now and I can’t be more proud to see her career reach such an incredible level.

After everyone had been interviewed and shot, we gathered together for a group photo. It was like graduation day for us. We had been together for hours, from the hotel, to the Lane Bryant Store, the corporate office and now we were going to DINNER!!!

The evening was wonderful and being able to sit and go over the day’s events was a perfect way to wrap up such a historic event. A few glasses of wine and this lady was ready to head back to the hotel.

That evening I spoke to my husband and was giving him a quick summary of what happened since I last tweeted and he asked “So, what was the general purpose of the conference?”.  My answer was simple, “I believe that Lane Bryant genuinely wants to know the plus size woman in a more intimate way and reach out to her. What better way than to ask women who are or could potentially be their customer and love to look good?

I believe the social media aspect of it was for us to be able to engage with them about Inside Curve and it will be interesting to see where we will be in one years time as far as social media is concerned.

Hope you enjoyed my personal journey at the Lane Bryant Blogger Conference. Thank you for your feedback and your support.

Hugs to all…

Maddy

To see all my pictures from the Lane Bryant Blogger Conference visit our Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/plusmodelmag

To watch the video visit click here or go to www.insidecurve.lanebryant.com

Comments

  1. Sara Bartlett says

    Great recap, Maddy – you in particular did a wonderful job capturing all the details that the merchants shared with us. And of course, your photos looks gorgeous!

  2. Grace says

    I love it that companies are getting down to courtesy, knowing the consumer and what she wants and how. I love this post and it is great that plus size designers are waking up. All the best.
    Grace

  3. grace says

    I wanted also to add that I loved this words to your husband “I believe that Lane Bryant genuinely wants to know the plus size woman in a more intimate way and reach out to her. What better way than to ask women who are or could potentially be their customer and love to look good?
    Cheers love it love it!
    Grace

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