Meibang Second Generation embarks on a new venture! Successfully launched a plus-size women’s clothing brand overseas

Meibang Second Generation launched a plus-size women's clothing brand overseas successfully

The former “first generation national trend” – Metersbonwe – is gradually falling into decline.

The surging “store-closing trend”, frequent sale of assets to pay off debts, and widespread wage arrears and other negative news all indicate to the outside world the downfall of this clothing giant.

However, with the founder’s son of Metersbonwe, Hu Zhoubin, launching his independent brand BloomChic into the public eye, we seem to see the continuation of the “unconventional” Metersbonwe spirit in the clothing business landscape.

By resolutely leaving Metersbonwe and establishing a plus-size women’s clothing brand for overseas markets, and two years later securing financing from L Catterton, an investment company under LVMH, BloomChic has succeeded in going international in the fast fashion market. What are the secrets to its success?

Practicality and Scenery

Why enter the plus-size women’s clothing market?

In previous analyses of Dia&Co’s brand case, several core analyses of the plus-size women’s clothing market were made:

  • On the one hand, the plus-size women’s clothing market has huge potential. According to NPD data, by 2027, the global plus-size clothing market is expected to reach nearly $700 billion, with the United States having the largest core plus-size special market with 46.1 million people, with a potential consumption amount of approximately $24 billion.
  • On the other hand, there is a subtle disconnect between plus-size brands and consumers. Overseas big brands such as H&M and Old Navy have tried to enter the plus-size market, but they have all failed.

Regarding the plus-size women’s clothing market, Hu Zhoubin said: “The maturity of plus-size clothing is obviously far from normal sizes. If the market maturity reaches 80 points, it will obviously lead to more vertical demand. However, the maturity of the plus-size market has not yet reached the passing score of 60 points.”

For Hu Zhoubin, who has rich domestic clothing resources and experience, how to use domestic advantages to form competitiveness in the plus size women’s clothing market has become the key to whether BloomChic can win.

1. Expand the range of sizes

In the United States, sizes 14 and above are usually considered “plus sizes”. It is reported that more than 2/3 of women in the United States need to wear sizes 14 or above, but only 2% of women’s clothing brands provide plus size clothing, and the demand of plus size women is often ignored.

BloomChic initially set the sizes from 12 to 22, and then expanded the sizes to 30 at the beginning of 2022. Size 30 is a new challenge for the domestic supply chain system. It not only involves new patterns and fabric cutting methods, but also challenges the original workflow of factories. Therefore, when choosing suppliers, BloomChic will take a long-term perspective to complete the many challenges that plus size women’s clothing needs to face.

A more inclusive size is a new challenge for the brand, but for plus size consumers, it is an exciting news. Nicole Philips, a senior industry expert in plus size clothing for 14 years hired by BloomChic, said: “Plus size users have been disappointed many times. For a brand, when you enter this plus size market, you need to sincerely connect with users and listen to their feedback with an open attitude.”

From the very beginning, the full-size strategy has become the first differentiated selling point that BloomChic attracts overseas plus size users.

2. Clothing scene

For plus size users, they often need more intimate and ultimate consumer insights than ordinary clothing users. What kind of clothes to wear in what kind of scene? This is a common problem that many plus size users will encounter when choosing products.

Therefore, in terms of clothing design, BloomChic categorizes its products according to various dressing scenarios. On their official website, BloomChic distinguishes between elegant, casual, holiday, party, and work scenarios by using the “Occasions” section. To welcome the arrival of summer, BloomChic has also set up a summer special section and provides consumers with holiday-themed outfits.

Furthermore, BloomChic has addressed the pain point of plus-size women’s clothing lacking pockets by designing “pocket dresses” and turning this pain point into a highlight of their brand. On BloomChic’s social media accounts, models accompanying the theme “It has pockets!” take out their phones, keys, books, and even coffee machines one by one, blending their products into consumers’ lifestyles with the infectiousness of TikTok marketing content.

Pattern Research Institute + Flexible Supply Chain Plus-size women’s clothing often becomes a misunderstood product category. Many plus-size women’s clothing brands often fall into a product misunderstanding, focusing only on the “plus-size” attribute while ignoring the style, pattern, comfort, and fit that plus-size women’s clothing should pay attention to as fast fashion.

Therefore, in the clothing design process, BloomChic first considers the inclusivity of the pattern design for several important parts of the body, such as the arms, thighs, and abdomen. Secondly, in terms of fabric selection, they consider the characteristics of the plus-size group, such as sweating and the need for greater fabric tolerance during exercise, and choose more elastic and breathable fabrics. Finally, to address the pain point of plus-size women’s clothing being inconvenient for walking and exercise, BloomChic’s majority of skirts are designed with slit details.

BloomChic also established a Pattern Research Institute, which invests three months in research and development before each product category goes online. In addition to market research, dozens of plus-size individuals are invited to try on the clothes, and the number of pattern corrections for a single pair of pants reaches double digits. Afterwards, BloomChic sends the samples overseas to the United States for local try-ons and gradually adjusts the details through remote video.

This design pattern provides BloomChic with superior layout flexibility, but also raises higher requirements for BloomChic’s supply chain. Therefore, in production, BloomChic prioritizes the flexible supply chain model of “small batch rapid return” popular in the fast fashion industry, testing market preferences through small-scale production before deciding whether to increase production based on market demand.

However, even though the domestic supply chain has become extremely mature in the “small batch rapid return” model, the increase in the number of sizes for plus-size women’s clothing still brings about an increase in the difficulty of supply chain production and management, as well as an increase in the difficulty of worker operations. For example, after BloomChic increased the number of sizes, the product range that originally had only 5 sizes has now extended to 11 sizes.

To address this issue, BloomChic has strengthened the digital management of its supply chain, by breaking down production data into finer details and implementing more standardized management methods, in order to further improve the flexibility of its supply chain.

User-centric marketing In addition to following user feedback in product design, BloomChic also focuses its marketing on user needs. Offline, BloomChic regularly holds user events for communication. In 2021, the “Plus Bus” offline event hosted by BloomChic collaborated with dozens of local brands and invited over 4,500 local consumers to participate.

This gave BloomChic the opportunity to directly talk to some influential people in the plus-size women’s clothing industry and learn what measures they can take to improve in the process of brand growth. The participants of “Plus Bus” are not limited to influencers. BloomChic values customer feedback very much and often communicates with customers to better understand what needs to be improved. Through VOC feedback (voice of customers), BloomChic can learn about the latest product demands and genuine feedback from users.

In social media marketing, BloomChic focuses on a multi-platform layout, with official accounts on social platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. The Instagram account has 440,000 followers and mainly focuses on promoting new products and featuring influencers. At the same time, in the promotion content featuring influencers, BloomChic will also categorize and push according to different styles and scenes to cater to the preferences of different users. BloomChic’s TikTok account has 710,000 followers, and the content mainly focuses on unboxing videos and OOTD dressing. BloomChic is also one of the earliest DTC brands to do live streaming on TikTok. During the trial live streaming in the UK, BloomChic achieved Top 1 in the market. In fact, because BloomChic only targets the plus-size population, in addition to providing product information, BloomChic also conveys positive brand values to this group of people, such as “fashion”, “environmental protection”, “confidence”, etc., which are loved and pursued by this type of users. When managing the accounts, BloomChic also guides and promotes towards these brand values. BrandArk observes the brand. From leaving Meiban to creating his own clothing brand, from domestic fast fashion to entering the plus-size market abroad, Hu Zhoubin, who has the halo of “Meiban second generation”, seems to be really walking an unusual business path. However, although plus-size women’s clothing is said to be a good business, there are still some mature big players who enter and then exit. The business of plus-size women’s clothing is not easy to do, and successful brands that enter this market not only need strong support from a mature supply chain but also need to constantly adjust brand policies according to the trends of the plus-size group. With the flexible supply chain advantage in China and the rich fast fashion experience of Meiban, how far can BloomChic go on the plus-size women’s clothing market? Time will tell.

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