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Ecommerce and social startup Abbey Plus corners a neglected big market in women’s fashion

There’s a big assump­tion amongst fash­ion e‑commerce man­agers: when it comes to women’s cloth­ing, most ladies fall into the “stan­dard” size range, while a minor­i­ty need “Plus Sizes” of 14 and above. But if Abbey Post founder Cyn­thia Schames has any­thing to do with it, that way of think­ing is about to become toast.

An ignored market

Schames has a vital les­son for e‑commerce man­agers and e‑commerce ana­lysts who have shared this assump­tion about sizes: wake up and smell the cof­fee. In The U.S alone, there are 100 mil­lion women – and many, many more world­wide — who fall into the Plus Size cat­e­go­ry and want great clothes just as fer­vent­ly as their slighter sis­ters. The aver­age dress size of Amer­i­can women is 14. Yet these women are gen­er­al­ly ignored by tra­di­tion­al retail­ers, a fact which leaves Schames and feel­ing more than a lit­tle indignant

Abbey Post goes straight for the plus size demo­graph­ic; it’s a fash­ion mar­ket­place not too dis­sim­i­lar to Etsy, where­in any­one from top brands to inde­pen­dent design­ers can sell their cre­ations. And it has a grow­ing inter­nal social net­work to com­ple­ment its recent­ly expand­ed inven­to­ry. Schames might have been a soft­ware sales con­sul­tant in a for­mer life, but she’s prov­ing her­self a can­ny e‑commerce man­ag­er and entre­pre­neur, too.

A plus size woman her­self, Schames had start­ed to real­ize that in her native New York, she was find­ing it hard­er and hard­er to find suit­able sized gar­ments. Brands were pulling their larg­er gar­ments out of retail stores and plac­ing them exclu­sive­ly online.

Includ­ing larg­er women in social shopping

But accord­ing to Schames, the online options weren’t appeal­ing, and none of them includ­ed a social dimen­sion that women espe­cial­ly enjoy when they’re shop­ping. Plus size women, she says, feel “neglect­ed, dis­en­fran­chised and left out of con­ver­sa­tions about fash­ion.” That’s when the idea of a social net­work-come-e-retail site for the larg­er lady occurred to her. Give these women a plat­form to con­nect over and but great clothes from, she says, and “that math adds up real fast.”

Abbey Post shares an empha­sis on plus size cloth­ing with oth­er online retail­ers like Wane­lo, OneStop­Plus, Sim­pleBe and Fash­ion to Fig­ure. But its empha­sis on high-end cloth­ing fused with its social approach real­ly sets it apart.

E‑commerce man­agers, expect this baby to grow big – in a good way.

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