City Sports is thinking bigger.
Specifically, it’s thinking about those female customers who have shopped for footwear and accessories but have skipped the clothing. That behavior may change now that the stores at Gallery Place (715 Seventh St. NW) and 19th Street (1111 19th St. NW) have added racks dedicated to sizes 1X through 3X.
“We felt it was a void in the marketplace,” says Lauren Blanda, the chain’s category manager for apparel. “But we didn’t want to do it halfheartedly.”
Just two of the vendors that City Sports carries had rolled out plus sizes — Moving Comfort and Nike — so the company decided to expand its CS label to round out the offerings. That process took a year and started with focus groups to determine what plus-size shoppers are looking for, Blanda says.
“They really want color. That was the biggest disappointment [they expressed], other than not being able to find things that fit comfortably,” says Blanda, noting that the women said they often had to buy men’s clothes.
To make sure the styles would work on real bodies, the designers recruited a woman they spotted exercising at a Boston-area gym to be a fit model. Her request? Tank tops that provided breathability and a wide range of motion.
City Sports set out to replicate several existing CS styles, which proved more difficult than it sounds, Blanda says. But with some extra paneling and different seaming, many of the looks are flattering in the larger sizes.
Blanda’s favorite is the CS Paramount Capri ($55). Like the original style ($48), it has a back zippered pocket and reflective details. She hopes shoppers appreciate the breadth of styles available — hoodies, sports bras, a skort.
The company is still figuring out which products will appeal to customers, which is why the line is initially available at only six stores and online. (D.C. got two of the test stores based on analysis that it would be a hot market, Blanda says.)
If sales are strong, that may persuade other brands to start thinking bigger, too.
Want Some More?
City Sports plans to extend sizes throughout the store this year by also adding widths in footwear, a broader range of sports bras, and short and tall styles in women’s pants.