Good American’s Emma Grede on Using Denim to Advocate Inclusiveness – Sourcing Journal

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When given the choice between feeling comfortable or sexy, Emma Grede demands both.

Half of the founding team of Los Angeles-based denim brand Good American, CEO Grede has been adamant from day one that women should never have to make this choice.

“When we launched in 2016, so many women were left out of the fashion conversation,” she said. “Women don’t wake up thinking about the best plus size jeans they can find; they just want the best jeans, period.

As Good American turns five – its official anniversary is in October – the most striking difference between yesterday and today is the evolution of the industry. Earlier this year, retail market information platform Edited reported an 11% increase in the number of new plus size or curve styles compared to 2019. Inclusive sizing is now a common expectation. consumers, as the spotlight on diversity and the many flaws in fashion has spread. in the brands’ product offerings.

But while the industry has made significant strides in attracting the masses, this was not the case when Good American debuted.

Making its entrance on the front of the scene with models of various morphologies and offering clothes in sizes 00-32, the brand was essentially held in silos. Extended sizing was often seen as an afterthought, if at all. Many remember the controversy surrounding Abercrombie & Fitch, a brand that not so long ago was criticized for offering sizes large and small, and whose former CEO said its brand was intentionally “exclusive. “. Whether or not other brands agree with his provocative stance, their lack of action spoke volumes.

It will come as no surprise to anyone in the industry, then, that Good American surpassed $ 1 million in denim sales on the first day of 2016. With a flashy value proposition, coupled with the cult fanbase. of mega-star and co-founder Khloe Kardashian, some might argue that the brand was doomed to success from the start.

Emma Grede and Khloé Kardashian

But despite its immediate success and its A-List C-Suite, Good American still faces obstacles in its quest to make extended sizing more accessible. He often had to break down barriers and create his own path to maintain the integrity of the brand. When it launched, wholesale retailers often asked to either order a small selection of sizes or divide the brand’s products into a separate plus-size section of the store. Grede refused, citing that the requests were “not in accordance with [the brand’s] mission.”

The lack of size representation among the high-end models of the time was also not in line with the brand’s mission.

“When we launched five years ago, there was a lack of plus size models in the industry, and we knew we wanted to showcase our product on various bodies,” said Grede.

This inspired the brand’s open casting call for a “good team” of diverse models showcasing the vast lineup, which garnered 60,000 applications from women around the world. Now in its fifth year, the annual casting call continues to attract a large audience of women of all shapes and sizes.

“We are the first brand in the industry to require our retail partners to carry our assortment in the full line and display all sizes together rather than in a separate plus size section, and we are the first brand to launch. an e -a commercial sizing tool that showcases all of our products shown in 15 sizes, across 15 different cut patterns, ”said Grede. “While we have made enormous progress [in terms of inclusion], there is still work to be done.

At this point, Good American has arguably some of the widest size ranges in the industry, yet is constantly innovating its products to appeal to even more women. In 2018, it expanded into motherhood with “Good Mama”, offering three styles to debunk the myth that a woman “can’t be stylish and sexy during pregnancy”.

In 2020, it launched the Always Fits Stretch Jeans, which fits a range of three to four sizes without sacrificing fit, and includes size categories 00-4, 6-12, 14-18, 20-26. and 28-32. The innovation was intended to allow for fluctuation in size, which many people knew from the unprecedented isolation of a year.

When thinking about new product categories, Grede says Good American always starts by asking how he can break new ground in fit and manufacturing.

“Our mission at Good American is to bring forward-thinking pieces that have a fit-first philosophy to women of all shapes and sizes, so we really only focus on entering categories that allow us to transform traditional approaches to fit and size, ”she said. mentionned.

Shoes and swimwear were two categories that the brand decided to tackle. Late last year, the brand dipped its toes into the shoe space with a collection of suede and synthetic upper heels, pumps, sandals, flats and boots, ranging in sizes 4-14 for women. . The collection follows two years of researching the shoe space and collecting customer feedback on what was missing in the category.

Like everything Good American touches, it aimed to fill the void. Not only do their shoes offer extended sizes, but each size also includes the option of extended widths in the feet, calves and thighs, resulting in 72 unique size variables.

More recently it has expanded into swimwear, offering a range of one-piece and two-piece styles that incorporate lessons learned from its denim category. In the swim range there is a selection of styles with Always Fits technology, which, like its bestselling jeans, allows the garment to stretch up or down a size.

Good American co-founder Emma Grede explains how the brand has used denim to promote size inclusivity over the past five years.

Good swim

The brand’s decision to cross categories is directly in line with trend forecasters’ forecasts for the main clothing categories to watch. Edited data shows new swimwear arrivals up 7% and sales up 34%, likely due to consumers taking advantage of looser travel restrictions and heading to the beaches. and the swimming pools to celebrate the “hot vax summer”.

But as Good American experiments with different categories, it will always stick with denim. Even now, as denim opens a new chapter focused on looser fits and genderless styles, Grede reassures millennials and all other skinny jeans fans that her iconic figure-hugging silhouettes aren’t going anywhere, and that they are “still one of the most flattering silhouettes for all body types.

Good American continues to see a high percentage of style sales, possibly due to his expertise in creating body-hugging silhouettes with what Grede calls “small but important denim attributes” such as reinforced belt loops and waistlines. graduated pocket sizes.

Still, the brand offers a variety of fits to appease its trend-oriented consumers, with wide-legged and boyfriend silhouettes in its “Good 90’s” collection.

Looking ahead to the next five years, Grede says Good American will continue to put fit and fashion at the forefront, an intention that other brands will hopefully embrace.

“It has certainly been a challenge to transform the way the industry views what it means to be truly inclusive,” she said. “As more brands have attempted to become more inclusive over the past few years, we’ve built inclusivity and representation into our business model since day one, and we’re excited to continue to push the boundaries of inclusiveness even further. “

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