Plus-size fashion chain opens 2nd LI store

Fashion To Figure opened its second store this Fashion To Figure opened its second store this past month in the Westfield Sunrise Mall in East Massapequa. The first is in Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream. (Aug. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: Meghan Giannotta

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Fashion To Figure has expanded its Long Island presence with a second store, bringing its plus-size, "fast fashion" concept to East Massapequa.

The Manhattan-based retail chain's new store is open at the Westfield Sunrise mall and has planned a grand opening for 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Fashion To Figure's mission is to provide a wide, constantly changing, inexpensive clothing selection reflecting the latest trends. The styles are specifically designed to fit the plus-size woman, the company said. Instead of the small section of a department store, women in this category have the entire store of apparel in sizes 12 to 26 dedicated to them.

"The thing that sets Fashion To Figure apart from other places is that it's not designed to be an afterthought for plus-size women," said Ohi Oni-Eseleh, a company spokesman. "We have stylists who pay attention to the guests and help dress them. And we constantly have new styles."

The plus-size market is clearly a growing segment, said Barbara E. Kahn, director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School. The plus-size women's clothing industry is expected to reach $7.5 billion in sales by the end of this year and $9.7 billion by 2017, according to a recent report from market research firm IBISWorld.

Fashion To Figure opened its first Long Island store at Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.

Kahn described Fashion to Figure's use of the fast fashion model for plus-size retailing as "smart" and "creative." "The recession has pushed people toward that [fast fashion] anyway," she said, noting the trend skews to a younger audience.

"You buy a few pieces and you can have the fun color of the year or a new accessory, and you can upgrade your wardrobe. All of those concepts make sense for anybody in any size."

The Fashion To Figure chain was founded in 2002 by two great-grandsons of Lena "Lane" Bryant, the entrepreneur who pioneered plus-size fashion a century ago. The Lane Bryant chain is now owned by the Ascena Retail Group Inc., in Suffern.

Bryant's descendants, Michael and Nicholas Kaplan, decided to bring the fast fashion concept to their chain. The stores receive new stock daily, selling everything from that basic little black dress to jewelry, handbags, belts and scarves.

Because plus-size women aren't used to having so many options, the stores' sales associates, who are called stylists, offer customers personalized service, Oni-Eseleh said. "When you're not used to having options, it can be overwhelming," he said. "You walk into the store with racks and racks and racks all designed for you."

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