Fashion to Figure Embraces Digital
For Michael Kaplan, co-founder and CEO of Fashion to Figure (FTF), a New York City-based retailer that caters to plus-sized women and teens, working in the retail apparel business was a natural fit. He's the great-grandson of Lane Bryant founder, Lena Bryant, a pioneer in plus-sized apparel. So when Kaplan decided to start his own business, he picked up where the family business left off.
When I mentioned the emerging plus-size market as “trending,” Kaplan replied, “this business is our DNA, not just a trend for us. And, most importantly, we want the customer to know that.”
FTF was founded 11 years ago by brothers Michael and Nick Kaplan, and has been offering white-glove service since. With a fast-fashion business model, FTF is able to sell on-trend, fast-moving and compellingly priced women's apparel ranging from casual to dressy. The retailer has focused on creating a “boutique experience” in its 26 storefronts across the country, hiring “stylists” to create a personalized in-store experience for each customer.
“It’s important to us that every time a woman walks into a store, she feels important,” said Kaplan.
In 2011, FTF expanded its reach with an e-commerce site and a social presence on multiple networks. While Kaplan has a soft spot for traditional brick-and-mortar retail, he recognizes the need for FTF to engage and serve its customers in they channels they're shopping.
“The most important aspect for me is that we create a top-of-the-line experience in multiple channels," says Kaplan. "We’re traditionally a brick-and-mortar storefront, but we’re adapting to the all-on consumer.”
One of the ways FTF is engaging consumers on social media is through brand influencers.
“Social media and influencers offer us the opportunity to not only connect with our customer, but to engage a new community of our brand advocates,” Kaplan notes. “It helps us have a digital forum of our in-store stylists.”
Social media, and digital in general, have also helped FTF showcase its very fast inventory turns.
When asked what some challenges were for FTF, Kaplan mentioned finding products that are appealing to all ages.
“We’re learning how to connect and grow across multiple generations and be nimble in a digital age,” Kaplan says.