E-tailer 11 Honoré may have only launched just a few weeks ago, but it’s already made a significant splash in the high-end fashion market. The surge is especially impressive considering its consumers—women sized 10 to 20—have historically been ignored by fashion.
“Every time we [would] walk into an appointment—especially last spring, when we were doing our first fall buy—the first thing the presidents of so many companies would say was, ‘I cannot believe no one else is doing this!’” explains Kathryn Retzer, a former fashion editor, who co-founded the online boutique with Patrick Herning.
The site, which launched with a small offering of clothes from big names such as Marchesa, Zac Posen, Prabal Gurung, and Michael Kors, has been met with a wave of interest from high-profile fans like Nicolette Mason, Ashley Graham, and Candice Huffine (who is currently the boutique’s face). Though Herning and Retzer have been friends for 15 years, the concept for 11 Honoré only came about a little over a year ago, with neither of its founders aware of the shakeups that were about to happen on the runway.
“We had no idea the momentum and traction that would be taking place last February,” Herning says, referring to the increased casting of plus-size superstars like Huffine and Graham, who also graced the cover of Vogue’s March 2017 issue. “We’d been six months into the development of the company before that glass ceiling was broken.”
While the spring of 2017 made big strides in regards to representation, the retail market was slow to catch up. “The largest hole within the overall movement has been an elevated designer offering,” says Herning. “What we’re most excited about is participating as just a part of this overall movement, and providing this customer with options that haven’t been available to her before.”
Of course, the creation of the online boutique—one that not only carries a larger array of sizes for luxury brands, but that also creates a space exclusively and directly tailored to the customer, rather than a subsection of a larger platform—has not been without challenges, namely in regards to production. Some brands, especially smaller ones, are limited in what they are able to achieve in manufacturing in areas like product development and pattern making. Commendably, Herning and Retzer are helping to co-fund some of this development, to ensure their customers have a positive experience.
“There has been some pushback on an increase of price for the extended sizing. Really that came from the 20s,” explains Herning. “We’re taking a shorter mark because we want prices to be across the board.”
“Fashion is fashion. If you’re a size 2 or a size 20, it should be equal for all. We feel strongly that there should be no price differentiation,” adds Retzer, who believes that the industry will catch up to their price consistency. “As a company we are willing to cover that cost so that our customer can be treated equally.”
Though competition in retailing online is increasingly fierce (especially with big-name companies like Amazon getting in the game), Herning and Retzer are confident that customers will recognize and appreciate 11 Honoré as a leader in the industry. It helps that they’re also offering something that is difficult to compete with: community. The duo is putting an emphasis on editorial content (including photoshoots, interviews with designers, and fashion week content), and creating a dialogue with supporters. “We want to get to know our customer, we want to hear what works, what doesn’t work, what’s missing from our closet, what she does not need any more of,” says Retzer. “It’s a true conversation that we just hope to continue with our customer.”
For Herning, what is most exciting about 11 Honoré is the chance to lead a change in the industry. As more brands are waking up to this untapped consumer market, placing focus on plus-size women—and plus-size women alone—will keep the e-tailer unique. “This is a very, very, very specific customer who has been largely underserved, marginalized, and ignored from big-box retailers,” he states. “For us, it’s all we care about, it’s all we think about, it’s all we buy for, it’s all the story we tell—everything is geared towards her.”END
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createdAt:Mon, 18 Sep 2017 18:45:31 +0000